Is Ford Out of Sync?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The Detroit News is reporting that Ford is in a legal battle to control key patents related to its Sync hands-free information system. John Berry, who was let go by Ford in July, developed Sync’s cell phone connectivity system, which allows features like 911 Assist, Vehicle Health Reports and Traffic, and Directions and Information Services. Ford wants Berry to sign off on the company’s application for patents related to these functions, but Berry won’t play ball. He says he’s “happy to license” the technology to Ford, but other automakers are rumored to be sniffing around as well. There’s plenty at stake in this squabble: if Ford loses these Sync capabilities, it loses one of its primary advantages in the marketplace. Not to mention its “anti-distracted-driving” leadership.

Berry had reportedly signed off on several of Ford’s patent applications, but when Ford terminated him without all of the compensation he says Ford promised him, he contacted his attorney. And he’s probably negotiating from a position of power. Ford’s exclusive rights to the Microsoft operating system underlying Sync have expired, which means Ford needs more of the add-on plugins that Berry developed to maintain its advantage and match the OnStar juggernaut. One of Berry’s plugins, which would allow users to operate smartphone applications through Sync, is one such crucial development.

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • Umterp85 Umterp85 on Sep 18, 2009

    p71 aka DR Doom---"Typical Ford" Sync has been a home run for Ford. I guarantee it has been a "tie-breaker" for many people as they have made their car purchase. While not "the" primary reason----I think sync is a big reason why Ford has increased share month on month for the better part of a year. So that said----wouldn't you try to protect the hell out of that asset ?

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 18, 2009
    Sync has been a home run for Ford. I guarantee it has been a “tie-breaker” for many people as they have made their car purchase. Good God I hope not. SYNC is terrible. I sat for 20 minutes in a Flex at the dealer at it was a joke. It couldn't even understand simple voice commands. SYNC is one reason NOT to buy a Ford...because it doesn't work very well and it will eventually break and render the whole stereo useless.
  • Umterp85 Umterp85 on Sep 18, 2009

    P71 Dr Doom---I have sync and it works great. The anger and emotion you experience by simply being in a Ford product must have caused issues with the voice recognition....sync needs a calm voice to work properly. Also---95% of the sync reviews I have read have been positive. Most say it is the best system out there. That might be faint praise because every other system out there might suck---but just sayin. I also won't back off my statement that I think sync has sold plenty of cars for Ford and is a reason for their share gain

  • Manaboulsi Manaboulsi on Sep 18, 2009

    It's time for the Truth: Ford has no ethics and Mr. Berry did not invent Sync. In 2001 I filed a patent on a safety product that took a decade of Prototyping, evaluation, and research. The device is a computer that accepts any portable consumer device using plug and play and allows the device to be controlled by the driver from the steering wheel or speech. The device monitor the car, the driver and the enviornment and if an accident is detected, it will automatically call 911 using the drivers own phone (No fee) and transmit verbal information to the operator and text, data and e-mail with telemetry and emergency information and medical information to a remote computer. That device was discussed with Microsoft, but there were negative about it (Still have the e-mail), then was presented to Ford on many level, in person, as well as Motorola Automotive (Now Continental). The device that is called sync is one of many pending patent and the emergency call as well as MyKey are also seperate patents that are still pending and they have been pending before Microsoft and Ford even got together. Ford have no ethics and Mr. Berry, even if he invented this, he was late. I have the document in black and white in the U.S., EU and Japanesew patent offices and I have NDA's and check sheet dating back to 1985, not to mention a prototype that's at least 9 years old and another one that's 20 years old. If anyone is interested in licensing this techology from the real owner, please contact us at manaboulsi at Best regards Mouhamad A. Naboulsi