RIM gets awarded patent for fuel cell on mobile device

RIM Fuel Cell Patent
By Jared DiPane on 15 Mar 2012 10:36 am EDT

In addition to the recent pattern tap to unlock patent that RIM was just received, they have also been awarded a patent for having a fuel cell on a mobile device. While many companies have tried recently to add wireless charging options to devices, RIM has been seeking this patent since 2009 when it was initially filed. The idea behind this would be that devices with physical keyboards could lay a fuel cell behind the keyboard and in front of the circuit board and would have a membrane with one physical contact that would allow charging on the go. 

A mobile device having: a keyboard; a printed circuit board having at least one contact responsive to the keyboard; and a fuel cell assembly having: a fuel cell located between the keyboard and the printed circuit board, the fuel cell having a membrane and at least one aperture corresponding with the at least one contact; a tank adapted to store a fuel for the fuel cell; and piping connecting the tank with the fuel cell, where the fuel cell ventilates through the keyboard. Alternatively, the fuel cell acts as the printed circuit board and at least one contact for the keyboard is printed onto the fuel cell.

In concept this is an amazing idea, and we can only hope to see this come to surface sooner than later. What do you think - are fuel cells the wave of the future? Sound off in the comments.

Source: USPTO; via: Engadget 

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
Father | Husband | Chipotle Addict"
319 (articles) 6102 (forum posts)

Reader comments

RIM gets awarded patent for fuel cell on mobile device


I'm more excited about the pattern tap to unlock patent. It would be super cool if they implement it not to just unlock, but for speed dialing or shortcuts from a locked screen. Tap a different pattern for each speed dial. It would be great!

If this means that using our physical keyboards would expand the battery life of our device, potentially for several days or even longer, I believe this would be awesome. A real breakthrough.


nope...the only thing that's happening on the keyboard is that it ventilates...

well, it may be useful if you want to use it as a finger warmer

This is a turning point in electronics. Imagine when this technology goes on all devices. This is great.go RIM A+++++++++++

Anything that would increase the battery life of any phone is cool. If it only works for keyboard phones and not full touch screen, sorry. I love my 9930 and any BB10 phone would have to be the same for me, lets get this implemented into the new phones and rock the future of mobile devices.
This may also be a STRONG selling point for future phones, the more you use your keyboard the longer your battery last. This would be the phone I get my kids, so the argument could stop over chargers.

This would be great.
The thing that annoys me the most about my Bold 9900 is the batter life.
Well battery life AND the camera......

Having a battery that lasted a week or more. It would be a Huge advantage in the market.

Can someone please explain exactly what is being proposed? It doesn't seem to me that using the keyboard charges the phone. It seems to me that it is proposed in a phone with a keyboard primarily for ventilation - "where the fuel cell ventilates through the keyboard", maybe for other advantages of having a location that is not under glass.

The article mentions "wireless charging" and "charging on the go", does this mean that there will be a standard battery that is charged as usual, but when you start to lose charge and can't plug in the fuel cell kicks in to charge it?

Yes, they certainly do a lousy job of explaining the concept. If you're going to bring it up, then please put a little effort into a detailed explanation of the subject matter.

I got it. Like hydrogen fuel cell. Patents are always somewhat vague and are sometimes just a concept. Try the Internet and do a little research before you complain that someone didn't take any effort. In the time it took you to post you could have looked it up on Google. Jeez all they do is itch on here!

It's their freakin article, it's their freakin job to explain the subject that they brought up in the first place. Quit being such a "Brown Noser" and defending their lazy journalistic practices.

You know, if you don't like how they're doing their job, you could always go to another site to get your information. There's no need to bash someone. Crackberry has a lot of different articles here. There rumours, reviews and more length articles that explain a whole host of topics. As if you can't spare 5 minutes to look it up on your own. Why are there so many trolls on Crackberry...sigh.

This guy is not trolling! He has a valid point. I love CrackBerry and everything they bring, but for the first time in a long time, I had no idea what this article said when I was done reading it. I still don't understand this patent at all.

There is nothing wrong with asking for a little clarity in a VERY vague article. This is kind of a big deal but it is very poorly explained.

Taken from the patent page found under the link above......

Source: USPTO;


A fuel cell is an electric generating cell that converts fuel to electricity in an electrochemical energy conversion process. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they consume a reactant, which must be replenished. Fuel cells, in the electrochemical reaction, convert the fuel from the anode side to mix with an oxidant on the cathode side, resulting in a reaction that has, in one type of fuel cell, a by-product of water and heat.

In current designs of mobile devices, the battery is generally located at the back of the device in order to allow a user access to the battery compartment. Specifically, a user may need to change the battery or at the initialization of the device may need to insert the battery, and therefore access to a battery compartment is generally provided on the back of the device.

As far as I can tell, RIM is locking down the use of fuel cells with devices that use a keyboard. Meaning, touchscreen devices can use the fuel cells too, but the only devices with a keyboard that can use it would be RIM's. This leads me to believe that RIM does plan to continue to produce devices with keyboards. So if another manufacturer of a phone uses a fuel cell on their phone with a keyboard, they have to pay RIM a royalty. Nice.

uh...that would be absurd and not exactly something that can be validly patented...RIM didn't invent fuel cell nor keyboard...the most RIM could do would be to prevent others from producing combinations with fuel cells on phones with RIM's patented keyboard which they already can do...

It would be downright odd for any party to be able to patent two technology they didn't invent...if they could do that, then someone would have filed enough patent that makes all the smartphone makers bankrupt....

the patent can only apply to certain configuration...and no, no manufacturers would have to pay RIM royalty for having keyboard and fuel cell on their phones

Knowing RIM's quality control I can see this blowing my balls off in the event I carry it in my pocket. I'll stick with my trusty 9700.

If you read the actual patent its say any fuel cell in any mobile device with some sort of key(s) above where the fuel cell is mounted thus allowing the key(s) to provide ventilation for the vapour and heat. It is more the fact of using the key(s) for ventilation than anything else. What they state is that devices are generally placed on their backs or in a craddle thus since heat rises it makes more sense for the ventilation to be on the front or top when resting on its back than having grills/screens on the back of a mobile device which is more at risk of getting dirty and reducing the effectivness of the ventilation. This patent doesn't give RIM exclusivity over using a fuel cell on a mobile device but does allow them the rights for the design and this particular way of handling the vapour and heat generated in what they feel is the most effective way. Fuel cells can generate quite a bit of heat and what RIM has patented is an effective way to locate and ventilate a fuel cell in a mobile device as such not to cause damage to other components. Also, the idea of turning the feul cell into a part of the circuit board.

good explanations. I think many of the posters got the wrong idea. Considering fuel cells create water and heat as byproducts, it is important to have proper ventilation so the built-up heat does not affect internal processes.

Think beyond cell phones, this is undeniable proof that they have finally created the Flux Capacitor. Personal time travel, check for project RIST, Research in Space Time. When Thor talked about the future of RIM, he wasn't kidding, Back to the Future baby yahhh!!!!! ;)

If you do a search at the patent office there were actually 15 patents issued to RIM on March 13, 2012 including this one. Another 15 awarded on March 6, 2012. And at another 17 on February 28. It appears patent approvals are released on Tuesdays I guess. Next approvals were back on Feb 21......

Companies are always seeking patents and many of these were filed for up to 5 years ago. The Patent office is so back-logged and some of these need very careful research to confirm and cross-reference.

Just something to keep in mind.......only some of these ideas will eventually or already have made it to market. Some of the patents that were just approved this month have been used by RIM and possibly other companies for years already. The approved patent just gives RIM the right to license the use of the design to other companies.....or sue them for the use of it for the past lol

Interesting info.....

The patent for the Playbook design was not filed for on March 3, 2011 and was just approved/issued on Feb 14, 2012

go to

and enter the following in the search

Wonder if they sue Kindle for infringment of design now that they have the patent??

If you want to search for all of RIM's patents enter


This will retrive all 2530 patents that you can read through

sue them for what, on what ground can they possibly sue them?
Yes they look similar and may have certain similar elements but RIM invented none of those and RIM was not the first company to release a tablet...Sue them for using the colour black cause RIM is planning on patenting black?

you should do your research. Batman has already patented black and has been wrestling with RIM and Amazon in the courts for months now over it...