Browse Prior Art Database

Theft-deterent Device for Electronic Equipment

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000123685D
Original Publication Date: 1999-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-05
Document File: 3 page(s) / 125K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Challener, DC: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

In the consumer electronics industry, there are a number of problems associated with theft. During transport of a semi full of TVs, for example, the shipment is subject to hijacking. Once in a consumer's home, TVs and VCRs are subject to theft. During construction, washers, dryers and such appliances are also subject to theft. Thefts of this sort account for huge amounts of monetary loss for industries and consumers every year. Our invention demonstrates a means by which this type of theft can be deterred in a relatively straight forward manner.

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Theft-deterent Device for Electronic Equipment

   In the consumer electronics industry, there are a number
of problems associated with theft.  During transport of a semi full
of TVs, for example, the shipment is subject to hijacking.  Once in a
consumer's home, TVs and VCRs are subject to theft.  During
construction, washers, dryers and such appliances are also subject to
theft.  Thefts of this sort account for huge amounts of monetary loss
for industries and consumers every year.  Our invention demonstrates
a means by which this type of theft can be deterred in a relatively
straight forward manner.

   The requirements of the solution are as follows:
  1.  The consumer device (e.g. TV, VCR, Refrigerator, etc.)
      must be functional (or easily made functional) at the
      factory, in the store and in the home
  2.  The consumer device must be able to be made
      NON-functional when in storage or in transit from the
      factory to the warehouse, or from the warehouse to the
      store.  It also needs to be NON-functional if it is
      stolen.
  3.  The transition from NON-functional to functional must be
      non-onerous to privileged users.
  4.  The transition from NON-functional to functional must be
      difficult and expensive enough for a non-authorized user
      that it will be a theft deterrent.

   The solution we describe is based upone the consumer
device having in it a relatively expensive module, essential to its
operation (such as the tuning unit for a TV or VCR, the control
electronics for a washer, dryer, or refrigerator, etc....) This
module will be herein after referred to as the Key Module.

   The Key Module has the following characteristics:
  1.  It is difficult/expensive to  replace (relative to the
      value of the appliance).
  2.  The appliance will not work unless the Key Module is
      functional.

   In the Key Module, we propose adding a security device
with the following characteristics:
  1.  Has a means of getting input from the user of the
      appliance.
  2.  Can enable or disable the Key Module.
  3.  Cannot be removed/bypassed from the module without
      damaging the module.
  4.  Changing the setting from disable to enable requires
      input only likely to be available to a privileged user
  5.  Changing the setting from enable to disable would be
      caused either by an authorized user or by events which
      will be difficult to avoid during theft (such as loss of
      connection to the power grid).
  6.  A privileged user can (optionally) turn of the security
      features.
  7.  A privileged user can (optionally) turn ON a feature to
      permanently disable a module given some specific event.

   We describe two example implementations:
  Example 1: The loss of utility power case for a TV

   In this example, we suggest embedding the tuner...