NEC announced yesterday that they are introducing "a new software for microcontrollers that detects counterfeit battery products in mobile phones and digital still camera batteries":
"The growing number of worldwide incidences involving inferior counterfeit batteries is a considerable source of concern for manufacturers and customers alike. NEC Electronics' authentication software offers a highly effective yet affordable solution to help detect such unauthorized products and prevent the damage caused by them." said Kazuo Nakamura, General Manager, Device SI Division, NEC Electronics.
Preventing damage is one thing, but stiffling competition is another. Who's to say that NEC won't use this authentication as an excuse to sue "unauthorized" after-market competitors under the DMCA for making compatible replacement batteries? After all, in order to be compatible, wouldn't these products would have to mimick the authentication codes of the original batteries? Such practices are exactly what got Static Control and Skylink sued in the printer cartridge and garage door cases mentioned above.
And the fun doesn't stop there:
The software will be introduced in Japanese digital cameras by year's end and is expected to be used in 50 million units by 2007. The software is ideal for use in mobile phones and batteries, but NEC Electronics is also considering extending this technology to "smart" keys, printers and ink cartridges, as well as bundling the technology into hardware options.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, software-based authentication is the wave of the future. And now, with the DMCA, a near-monopoly! Future, here we come.
Update Engadget reports "Sony is planning to add something like this to their laptops, and that if the laptop detects a non-Sony battery it will simply refuse to work and prompt the user to insert an original one."