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Model Railroading > MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit


Date: 10/25/09 08:48
MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: railstop

MTH has recently filed a lawsuit against Broadway Limited for infringing on MTH’s chuff driven smoke unit patent.

I have read the Mike Wolf MTH smoke unit patient as filed and approved by the patient office. Once again it appears that the US Patient office has granted a patient to an application with a technical component that is described only in generalities. This is a huge problem and is creating legal havoc.

I am qualified to comment on the Mike Wolf Patient having spent thirty years in software development of hardware related applications before purchasing Ulrich Models and entering the model railroad business. My company has spent the last two and one-half years deeply involved in the sound and DCC area. I have also purchased both BLI and MTH locomotives with the legally disputed smoke systems.

Both the BLI and MTH systems operate in a similar manor; both designs drive a small fan that blows smoke out of the smoke unit when the chuff occurs. This creates steam engine smoke that has realistic qualities. The BLI and MTH smoke units are so similar in operation that I often wondered if there was trouble ahead.

In my opinion, the microprocessor technology to run a smoke unit should not have been patentable. Driving the smoke unit from a computer output is a very simple use of computer technology. Basically, you sense when the smoke should occur by monitoring a sensor and then sending an output signal to the smoke unit fan during that time. The sensor technology is not specifically defined and could be magnetic, optical, or a back-emf sensor. This same methodology of sensor driven output is used to drive millions of computer devices and has been in existence since the beginning of digital computers. It is fundamental to computer control of devices.

The problem is that the US Patent Office granted this patient and now Broadway Limited has to prove they did not violate it or that the patient should not have been granted and should be vacated. With a patent this general, it could be difficult to prove you did not infringe on it. All we can do is hope that the patent will be invalidated. If not, there may be only one fan driven, synchronized smoke unit on the market and there could be more financial harm to companies that are valuable to the model railroading industry. The more competition there is, the better products we will see.

Patients are a huge problem. A patient for automatic rule 17 lighted could have been granted using a similar application. In rule 17 lighting, the microprocessor detects when the train has stopped and automatically dims the lights. Imagine the effect of having every microprocessor function in a digital decoder patented.

I am sorry the MTH decided on this course of action. In my opinion, it is detrimental to the Model Railroad industry.

Steve Gill



Date: 10/25/09 09:29
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: photoguycookin

wtf did i just read?



Date: 10/25/09 09:31
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: Ray_Murphy

Steve -

+1

Ray



Date: 10/25/09 09:55
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: ATSF100WEST

Old News:

http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?3,2039617

Their synchronized chuff and smoke system was specifically designed to work with THEIR Digital Command System. The "Patient" (sic) Document covers that system as well, and how the two interact. The courts will eventually decide the outcome of this based on third party experts giving testimony. It is my hope that the plaintiff will be awarded an amount comensurate with that of intellectual property theft, perhaps putting the defendant in his proper place, once and for all.

Good Luck MW.

Bob

ATSF100WEST......OUT



Date: 10/25/09 10:38
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: atsf5704

And once again MTH will produce a subject matter expert that has developed a system all his own to prove MTH's claim,just like in the Lionel trial.



Date: 10/25/09 12:10
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: brfriedm

I hope TO does not turn into the Atlas forum known now as the "Batlas" forum.(The bashing Atlas forum) Post after post on MTH. People fighting continuously. The same idiots saying the same things over and over. Let's get back to modeling and let the court system decide this...

Bruce



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/25/09 12:11 by brfriedm.



Date: 10/25/09 12:26
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: J.Ferris

brfriedm Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I hope TO does not turn into the Atlas forum known
> now as the "Batlas" forum.(The bashing Atlas
> forum) Post after post on MTH. People fighting
> continuously. The same idiots saying the same
> things over and over. Let's get back to modeling
> and let the court system decide this...
>
> Bruce

Bruce,

Indeed, indeed.

I stand by my previous post, "a pox on both of their houses".

There is way too much more to concentrate on than this.

J.



Date: 10/25/09 12:41
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: cambyjunction

In my opinion just let the consumer decide. For me I will boycott MTH and support Broadway Limited.
Richard



Date: 10/25/09 14:13
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: DMIR230

brfriedm Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I hope TO does not turn into the Atlas forum known
> now as the "Batlas" forum.(The bashing Atlas
> forum) Post after post on MTH. People fighting
> continuously. The same idiots saying the same
> things over and over. Let's get back to modeling
> and let the court system decide this...
>
> Bruce

It seems like it is to late as TO is now the second session of the Atlas forum.

Why can't people just roll their eyes and let it go. Buy MTH if you like it, or don't buy it if you don't. Post after post of MTH pro or con is so old.

DMIR230



Date: 10/25/09 14:18
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: superchief73

cambyjunction Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In my opinion just let the consumer decide. For me
> I will boycott MTH and support Broadway Limited.
> Richard
i second this



Date: 10/25/09 15:14
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: mkerner

superchief73 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> cambyjunction Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > In my opinion just let the consumer decide. For
> me
> > I will boycott MTH and support Broadway
> Limited.
> > Richard
> i second this
I third it!!! Who really gives a ratsa** sounds like the oid school yard "I'm gonna take my ball and bat home so you can't play
with them." Mike



Date: 10/25/09 15:56
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: HB90MACH

As I said, that is not a new concept. Lionel and AC Gilbert did that years ago. I have seen it in large scale too when Lionel did large scale. NOt to mention that when patenting something, you have to be specific, not general. You also have to present a working model, or prove one exists using your system. All BLI has to do is show that, plus show that the potential is there for a similar system to be developed because of how these decoders work.



Date: 10/26/09 00:01
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: ATSF100WEST

MTH produced their WORKING MODEL in 2002, WELL before BLI was a twinkle in Grubba's eyes.

I sincerely hope that you clowns patent some creation of yours some day, and then a competitior STEALS AND APPLIES your intellectual property. That would be SWEET.

Bob

ATSF100WEST......Out


HB90MACH Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> You also have to present a working model, or prove
> one exists using your system. All BLI has to do is
> show that, plus show that the potential is there for
> a similar system to be developed because of how these
> decoders work.
>



Date: 10/26/09 01:16
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: sasquatch0000

HB90MACH Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...You also have to
> present a working model, or prove one exists using
> your system. All BLI has to do is show that, plus
> show that the potential is there for a similar
> system to be developed because of how these
> decoders work.

This is entirely false. I am an inventor myself and I applied for a utility patent with the USPTO in October 2007 (still pending.) A person or manufacturer seeking a US patent does not have to have a working model. A patent is really based on claims made that are new and have never been used in the prior art, that can be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art for which the claims are made.

MTH or any other manufacturer can get a patent on something that is an innovation in model trains and they have protection for 20 years. Another manufacturer may use that new innovation with permission from the patent holder, and that usually involves a fee. That's how a patent makes money for a person or company.

If MTH does have a 20 year patent on synchronized chuff, and it is in fact the same type of system, then BLI will have to have permission from MTH to use the design and or they will have to pay a fee to MTH to use it.

My biggest problem with MTH is that they should be spending their attorneys' fees negotiating and drawing up contracts with other manufacturers like BLI so that those manufacturers can use the patented material. In this case MTH would make money from BLI sales using the technology. In this scenario the model railroad enthusiast wins. This crap about MTH trying to sue their competitor into oblivion is truly disgusting, and that's why I will not support MTH. Of course I do not know if the material BLI is using for their synchronized chuff genuinely infringes on MTH's patent. If it does and BLI refuses to cooperate with MTH, then MTH has every right to sue and collect damages.

My hope is that these two can sit down and determine if the patent truly does cover the synchronized chuff system that BLI is using. If they can agree on that, then MTH and BLI need to negitiate a price per unit that is reasonable for ALL parties (including the model railroad enthusiast.)

Cheers MARK



Date: 10/26/09 11:47
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: Afbombers

ATSF100WEST Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> MTH produced their WORKING MODEL in 2002, WELL
> before BLI was a twinkle in Grubba's eyes.
>
> I sincerely hope that you clowns patent some
> creation of yours some day, and then a competitior
> STEALS AND APPLIES your intellectual property.
> That would be SWEET.
>
> Bob
>
> ATSF100WEST......Out

There is no definitive way to tell by the modeler community if bli stole the technology from mth unless you have unimpeded access to both companies private technical data and schematics, any one can file a patent on something that doesnt already have a patent on it such as Real Rail Effects did.

If bli stole the technology then shame on them and yes they should pay for damages but if mth is just trying to run bli into the ground then its going to blow up in their face.



Date: 10/26/09 16:45
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: tomstp

The idea of filing suit before trying to negotiate an agreement is not new. It is called "legal blackmail". You let them know it will take many thousands of dollars for someone to defend themselves, even if the did not infringe on the other, as a means of either forcing an agreement one would not normally make or, actually going ahead and getting a jury verdict. Either way the defendant is out big, big bucks. Even if the defendant wins hardly any judge will award the defendant defense costs against the plaintiff.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/26/09 16:47 by tomstp.



Date: 10/27/09 17:38
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: ajy6b

That is what the courts are for! Hopefully, a reasonable judge and if applicable a jury will decide. But I suspect it will be a judge as the minutia of the electronics, could put a hyper-active two year old to sleep, let alone a jury of average guy on the street.

Back to modeling

AJ



Date: 10/29/09 12:46
Re: MTH - BLI Smoke Unit Lawsuit
Author: ATSF3751

Whoa....MTH has filed another lawsuit against BLI?

There are few things in this world that are as dependable....

the sun rises,
the sun sets,
taxes,
death,
MTH sues BLI,
Repubs disagree with Dems
Dems disagree with Repubs
MTH loses suit,
Einstein was smart,
Oceans contain water,
UP likes yellow,
You know, and the list goes on and on.....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/29/09 13:23 by ATSF3751.



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