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Old 16th May 2006, 08:40 PM   #1
SQFan is offline SQFan  South Africa
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Default Ribbons and patents

Hi all,

for those who don't know, i have successfully completed my ribbons for use in my car. I tried a 200mm, 250mm and finally a 300mm long ribbon. I sounds awesome, producing sufficient depth, width and height. I was quite in the dark about ribbons three months ago, and right now i am pretty much satisfied with my accomplishment. I competed at a recent IASCA event and managed to place in 2nd, but the judge from the USA was just amazing. He really went into detail about the ways in which i can improve on my design. Okay, enough of that. I now have come across some people who claim that i "copied" their ribbon, they also claim that they have patented it. I seacrched on various patent websites and found nothing. QUESTION : can i get into trouble for building a DIY ribbon, as i used a design similar to Michael and learnt alot from the info on his website.(sorry, cannot remember the rest of his name...apologies Michael). Also, do you guys know of anyone in South Africa that has been on this forum and that has built any ribbons. Any info will be welcome. I can also be contacted via e-mail: nass@mweb.co.za. Thanks once again to all the boffins out there. You guys are really great.
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Old 16th May 2006, 11:36 PM   #2
tom1356 is offline tom1356  United States
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I think if they are patented than you can build them for personal use but not sell them.
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Old 17th May 2006, 12:47 AM   #3
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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In the US a patent allows the owner to prevent others in the US from making, selling or using his patent protected invention

obviously knowing that some lone experimenter has copied his invention is difficult but in principle the patent owner can sue for damages and to prevent further use

in fact a flagrant, widely publicized violation requires action by the patent holder to prevent the presumption that he is abandoning his intellectual property rights
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Old 17th May 2006, 12:55 AM   #4
tom1356 is offline tom1356  United States
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Here is the actual quote from _Roche Products v. Bolar Pharmaceutical_:
[B]y 1861, the law was "well-settled that an experiment with a
patented article for the sole purpose of gratifying a philosophical
taste, or curiosity, or for mere amusement is not an infringement
of the rights of the patentee." Peppenhausen v. Falke, 19 F. Cas.
1048, 1049 (C.C.S.D.N.Y. 1861)

and...
Nope. You're thinking about trademark law, where you can lose a trademark
by allowing others to misuse it. (Hence, the occasional Xerox ad saying
that you can make copies, but only they can make a Xerox.)

Your patent is yours for its full term, unless you don't pay the periodic
maintenance fees or dedicate the patent to the public. It's still valid
even if you don't enforce it against everybody or anybody.

But there is a six-year statute of limitations for bringing an infringement
action. And if you have established a pattern of allowing others to
practice your patent invention without permission but with your knowledge,
a judge may find laches (an equitable defense) prevents finding damages
for the period of use before the suit.

Similiarly, you don't lose your copyright through non-enforcement.
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Old 17th May 2006, 02:41 AM   #5
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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Differences that only a lawyer could care about?

As an engineer I only occasionally read articles about or attend seminars on patents for non-lawyers, so what I am interested in is a “good enough” grasp of the principles to know when I need to call a lawyer

Perhaps experimenter was the wrong word – prompting your citation – but still Use of the invention can be barred without an agreement with the patent holder – likely permanently installing in his car and “using” it in judged competitions would establish that the builder has gone beyond satisfying intellectual curiosity into “Use” – and what standard of “Use” applies when the Use Is as “mere entertainment” – certainly patented toys must have existed at the time of the decision?

The 20,000 foot view still seems to be that if someone is openly using your invention without an agreement and you do not pursue them legally then you loose (or impair) the ability to enforce your intellectual property rights - thanks for the refresher on the details but I wasn’t confusing the trademark issue

If you care to comment further I am interested in the potential “hole” in your protection as an inventor prior to the issuance of your patent but after your application, particularly if you have public disclosure in technical papers within the 1 yr filing limit – I understand you can sue for royalties for production after your claims are finalized and published and you can exercise full patent rights after the patent issues but with a 2-4 yr approval process the profit window for your innovation could close before the patent issues
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Old 19th May 2006, 07:26 AM   #6
SQFan is offline SQFan  South Africa
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Thanks guys, this was really a good response. I have also checked with some patent lawyers and was handed a handbook containing valuable information esp. Q & A's. As for the local guys here in S.A. who claim to have the patent on the ribbons, i have still not heard anything from them. I also have no intention of building the ribbons for resale purposes as this would only create a 'hole' for me as the guys who compete in the comps will then have an advantage and possibly 'knock' me out of a placing. Another important bit of info that i got was that the ribbons that i have built, cannot be patented as the original inventor is definately not the guys in S.A., however, he can register a design application whereby he claims that he has modified the ribbon design thus enhancing the quality of sound when compared to the original patented ribbon. This is quite a complicated issue, but there are minor loopholes if one really looks deep into the problem. As for now, i am not too worried about the problems, but would just like to be prepared in case something serious arises. Should anything else come up, i will surely let you guys know about it. I am also working on improving the ribbon characteristics when used in the vehicle and as soon as this is perfected, i will surely post some pic's and a write-up. Until next time, keep up the good work.
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Old 19th May 2006, 11:46 AM   #7
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Can we see the ribbon you have made ?.

regards
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Old 19th May 2006, 12:00 PM   #8
SQFan is offline SQFan  South Africa
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yes sure, as soon as i complete my mods over the weekend (i hope), i will then post a complete write-up. The reason for this is that i would like to highlight the differences in the response i am getting between the ribbon as a i have it now compared to the one with the mods to the structure. I do not cuurently have any pics stored on my pc, but hope to have 'em soon.
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Old 29th June 2006, 04:55 AM   #9
lgreen is offline lgreen  United States
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Default Please

Please email me. I would be happy to discuss your issue.
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Old 30th June 2006, 02:25 AM   #10
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This 1925 Ribbon patent was one of the first. Even the Apogee ribbon patents of 1984 have expired. Most "basic" ribbon patents have expired, but that does not stop rich companies from suing you over a small detail they have been granted a current patent without much technical justification.
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