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Dutch

What is legal?

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Dutch
In a previous post, Neal offers to make grader blades, but adds, "Because of those darn patent laws, they would not be exactly simplicity." Does anyone KNOW what patent laws cover? You can be prosecuted for making watches with the label "Rolex." Okay I understand that. But, how about those cheap watches that just look like a Rolex, but don't say "Rolex?" How about all the aftermarket parts sold by NAPA? I'm not sure, but I think there was a time it was illegal to make aftermarket auto sheet. Not so today. Many insurance companies specify aftermarket (cheaper) crash parts. Many body shops object to being forced to use those parts, claiming they are inferior and don't fit like OEM. Anyway, if aftermarket companies can make brake shoes, ball joints, tail light lenses, windshields, etc. that are EXACT replacements for the OEM parts that are still available as OEM, why should Neal be concerned about making an aftermarket grader blade that is an EXACT copy of the original? Any lawyers reading this?

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Woodydel
They can only hold a patent for 20 years non-renewable.. If you want to see real craziness take a look at the link. The day we bow to any other country or countries rules is the day we lose ourselves....How many types of cars would there be if the improvements had to be non obvious forever...Woody[A href='http://swpat.ffii.org/vreji/papri/wipo-splt01/index.en.html']http://swpat.ffii.org/vreji/papri/wipo-splt01/index.en.html[/a]

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Woodydel
They can be supplied by the automotive manufacturer's supplier. Ford and the others don't make everything themselves, for example brake components are made by others. I figure this discussion is about JonetteP and his desire to make blade duplicates. Nobody can stop him from making an exact copy...Woody

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Dutch
Just did some research myself. On this site, under "Should I mark my products with the patent number?", it states, "Under 35 USC section 287, a patent owner is required to mark goods embodying the invention with the patent number. The owner's failure to mark the product runs the risk that the patent owner will not be able to collect damages from infringers during the time that the product was distributed without patent markings. (This obligation to mark does not apply to a patent that has only method claims.)" The above begs more basic questions. Are auto fenders or grader blades patented to begin with? Do people just assume manufacturers apply for and are granted patents for every product they build? Do any Simplicity products display patent markings? I'm too lazy to go look right now....

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Dutch
Woody, Got to disagree with your "supplier" theory. If I held a patent on a widget, and contracted with you to build them, you wouldn't have the right to make extras and sell my widget yourself to someone else.

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Kent
Don't know about your "new iron" Dutch, but there is a Patent decal that comes with the replacement decal set for my Big Ten. If I'm not mistaken, it lists at least three different patent numbers. The decals for the Briggs 243431 also came with a patent decal, and a "Manufactured to Allis-Chalmers specifications" decal... Every part is not patented, nor patentable. It has to be significantly different (improved, different function, etc.) in order to obtain a patent -- patents are on inventions (intellectural property) not just a manufacturing design. A patent costs at least $10,000 or so in legal and filing fees, and typically take a couple of years to be granted, so you don't go after them "wholesale." The last I heard, about 4 years ago, IBM was the US company with the most currently granted patents -- a little over 1,000 of them, as I recall....

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Woodydel
I was proposing a "possibility" about whether a supplier can sell parts themselves. Since I am not priveledged to the contract details I can only guess. A supplier may be the actual owner of the parts patent for all we know. Bendix could have designed the ABS used by Chevrolet and may have insisted on being allowed to sell their own product as replacements for the big manufacturer. This is only a guess. I'm reasonably sure my 40 years old blade can be copied by JonetteP for sale without worry...Woody

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MikeES
One thing you can do (my company has checked this out) if you own a grader blade you make as many copies as you wish for your own use. (Don't try to sell them or give them away). It also depends if the patent holder is still selling the item. Mike S.

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JonetteP
Hi all, the reason I was so worried over the idea of patent infringement is my experience in a proprietary lighting system. When I was in college, and about 6 months afterward, I was working with an instructor on a project I had started for a class. I had trouble in finding someone who knew how to design RF transmitors and recievers. Then ran into problems with similar designs. After many hours of searhing and phone calls, etc. I checked the government sight for about the tenth time in dealing with my lighting project. Low and behold, someone had applied for the same style of unit I had already prototyped. They applied in may of 1998. They recieved the patent in august of 2000. From there I had to rethink the design and go back to my original idea. This is a better design anyway, but is more costly to produce. So I am back at point one. I have found the contacts I need to complete the project, and am working on the funding. The point to my story is that there is a lot of 'similar' ideas out there and did not want to run into any more problems if possible. If anyone has an idea they want to patent, I think the government sight is www.pto.gov Check this sight first! Remember though, someone else may have the same idea as you and is currently in the process of doing the same thing. The sight I mentioned, as to my knowledge, does not list patents applied for. This is where I ran into problems. When I started the project was in september of 98, the patent was applied for in may! Will not stop me! Almost all of you will own my lighting system someday. ( hopefully) Thank You for your input!

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Woodydel
Woody: Gotcha...makes sense. And I agree...make the blades and enjoy. However, I guess if "personal use" is a defense, it couldn't hurt to "give" them away (to deserving SimpleTrACtor members, of course!) instead of selling them. But I can't imagine a company actually expending the re$ources to pursue an action against an individual who did sell a few of them, even assuming there are valid patents remaining which, as you point out, is unlikely. (But as Al says, my opinion is free, so value accordingly.) It was definitely an interesting discssion though.... Peter

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carter
Dutch, In a nut shell you are right on. Since Allis Chalmers is long gone in the ag field I wouldn't be as concerned as I would about Simplicity which is still live and well(?). With two shot knees I agree toenails are getting harder to get to every day. Now that is something to worry about. Ron

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Dutch
Peter, Your legal education is showing. It sounds like you’re now saying: Based on the facts, as you now understand them, a reproduced grader blade, may or may not violate existing valid patents, if any, in fact, any patents ever existed in the first instance. However, without further research, you cannot ascertain whether or not any patents on the grader blade, if indeed any ever existed, may or may not have expired, notwithstanding the possibility or even probability that those patents may be over 20 years old. In addition, the above opinion is based on the facts as they have been presented to you. Should those facts, in fact, not be factual, you reserve the right to alter your opinion accordingly. At least your opinions are free. My lawyer would charge me for similar advice using his special 72 hour day clock. Woody, I'm not sure "personal use" would be an affirmative defense. I'd plead insanity, and have plenty of witnesses.

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Dutch
Ron, I wouldn't be too sure about Allis. Duetz bought the name, so did AGCO, who is still using it. The remnants of Allis-Chalmers were just sold last year. The name "Allis" must have some value to someone. I think there are a lot of guys in this club that should start worrying about more than their toe nails.

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MPH
Neal: How exciting! (The lighting invention). I am currently loving every page of the third book I have read on the Serbian electrial inventor Nikola Tesla. I wonder if you are familiar with him, as history has so obscured his 700 patents (that's world wide--approx. 100 in the US) that it has been reported that it is not uncommon for a student to obtain a degree in electrical engineering and NEVER HAVE HEARD OF TESLA! He is responsible for the "A/C polyphase system" in use all over the world today, AND he was the first to "conduct" (no pun!) long-distance transmission of high current and voltage, as the hydroelectric project he designed and engineered--you know, the one at NIAGARA FALLS, NY? I won't (again) gloss over all he did, (which is MUCH more than this) but relevant to your lighting work specifically, he also did alot of the original research into flourescent lighting (his so-called "cold light")which might be of particular interest to you. Tesla's name would be a household word if he had simply been given the wealth he was entitled to from his royalty agreements w/ George Westinghouse (reports vary, but he was allegedly to have received a dollar per horsepower--seems outrageously high, no?--generated by his polyphase system. But George Westinghouse later pleaded poverty, so Tesla tore up the royalty agreement. It wasn't very long before George's company was billing Tesla for equipment to replace what he lost when his lab burned in NYC (arson suspected) and refusing to give him any more until he paid. You know what they say: "No good deed goes unpunished." The book I'm reading now reads like a very intersting novel, but is documented like a textbook, w/ footnotes for every chapter. It is called "WIZARD: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla--Biography of a Genius", by Marc J. Seifer, 1996, Birch Lane Press. Did you major in Electrical Engineering? I'm looking to buy a used, entry-level college textbook on the subject, not for career purposes, but b/c I want to know more about my obsession. BTW--I am a lawyer, Dutch, but I found I really didn't like to be around lawyers, or the picky, boring work they often did, or their frequently GIGANTIC egos, so, you could say that, aside from the work and the people, it was the best job I ever had! LoL! And I don't know the answer, which probably means my memory is shot, as I did do a paper on counterfeit parts (aviation and autos were the biggies in the 80's.) I'm assuming Napa buys from suppliers who either directly, or via Napa, pay for "licensing rights" (made that up, kinda), to produce the parts, i.e., "under license" to FoMoCo, etc.... Woody, I don't know about patents, but COPYRIGHTS can go for a lot longer than 20 years. I believe right now the U.S. Supreme Court is looking at, or may have just decided, whether to extend the copyrights on creative material a number of years beyond the death of its author. Like, it used to be 20 years, I believe, then possibly 50, and I don't remember exactly, but I think it's being shortened. Why do I remember? Because if the decision goes against them, WALT DISNEY will lose the rights to exclusively market the image of MICKEY MOUSE!!! I wonder if that's why Michael Eisner of Disney is so hot to ashcan Nightline to make more $ w/ Letterman? They say it's all about the age of their respective audiences, vis a vis how much advertisers are willing to pay to advertise on each show. Well, here's the punch line--Letterman's audience is only FOUR YEARS YOUNGER than Koppel's, and it's like 46yrs old vs. 50! (I.e., not a big diff. at that age, IMHO!) So what's it REALLY about, that's what I'd like to know? I mean, why did Disney buy ABC if they planned to contribute to the "dumbing down" of America by killing a respected, popular, PROFITABLE (so the NYT's says) 22 year old news show? Nothing against Letterman, but wouldn't it be great Karma if Eisner dumps Koppel, only to have the Court strip him of Mickey Mouse? What goes around comes around.... So we were talking about grader blades.... Yeah, I'd like to know how much, but if you can't sell them, due to the law, what is the acceptable figure for donating into your research fund? NOT that I'm implying any "quid pro quo" here, but I think it would be easier, and would avoid potential fitment/operation problems, to exactly copy the design. As long as you're not selling them, if in fact that is the law, which I wish I could confirm for you, but it's "not my area," man. Peter

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Woodydel
I wouldn't use "personal use" as a defense and I never even thought it. Where did that come from? I never worry about defending my actions anyway. If someone wants to take me on I'm ready. What a wimpy "defense" that would be. I can't even imagine saying that. (After reading this I sound angry but I'm not, honest) The only reason for a patent is to allow the guy or entity time to make money with his invention and recoup his development expenses if any. After 20 years his patent is done, finished and served its purpose. I want to see some grader blades made. After all this talk, I'll make them and I don't even want one. Besides, there have to be quite a few blades out there for the few of us who might need one. Neal, make the blades..Please...Woody

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Dutch
Dutch--that "legalease" was a riot--but it reminds me how happy I am not to have to read that stuff. However, Woody's comment made my laugh out loud at my computer: "After all this talk, I'll make them and I don't even want one." I already tried once to put a bullet in this post, to no avail. Anyone feelin' lucky? Dutch, you are this discussion's Dr. Frankenstein.... Peter

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Kent
OK, if we're talking about decals now, I'm not sure we have to worry. Simplicity owns the rights to Agco-Allis AND Massey-Ferguson lawn and garden, NOT the Agco parent company.... Check the mailing address on both the Allis Lawn and Massey Lawn websites -- it's Port Washington, WI. Simplicity has referred people to this site to find decals. Simplicity has emailed me explaining why they cannot stock decals more than about 7 years -- they break down just sitting on the shelf. As far as grader blades, Simplicity no longer offers them... As long as anyone is not duplicating items that Simplicity is still selling, or does nothing to "embarrass" Simplicity, I don't think that Simplicity would bother them... but, of course, that is only my opinion. IMO, Simplicity is glad to see these old machines restored, shown, and just generally publicized. Just don't do anything to compete with them, or to damage their reputation. My 2 cents.... Kent

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