Patent Laws on Ride Elements?

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 1:53 AM
Can ride manufacturers patent thrill elements on coasters? Or are patents limited to the more mechanical aspects, like LIM's, brakes, restraints, and so on?

If so, how long does a patent last before other companies can start using it? I'm probably wrong about this, but I thought that United States patents are good for seven years, then the innovations are fair game for other companies to use. The fact that the major coaster companies are spread out over the world (USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, Japan, Italy, etc.) complicates matters. Can an American company sue a foreign company for patent violations on a project built overseas?

For example, does B&M have exclusive rights to elements of a certain size and shape. Can they prevent other companies from duplicating them too closely? Could S&S sue B&M for duplicating the Wave or Loop Screw elements on a B&M coaster?

I ask because some elements seem fairly specific to a manufacturer. Could this be why no Waves or Loop Screws have showed up on B&M coasters?

Also, is there any difference in shape between an Arrow corkscrew and a B&M flat spin?

-Ben

+0
Wednesday, May 21, 2003 7:02 AM
2 Hostyl should be the expert on this, but I would think that it would in theory be possible to patent an element. I believe that Arrow did this on some of their early inversions. In practice today, coming up with an element that would meet the criteria for a successful patent would be difficult. You would have to show that the element was original. Others would argue that the element was just a combination or modification of other elements.

In practice, I think that much of the reason a company uses a particualr element is two fold. First, the element provides that ride experience that they are aiming for. Second, repeating the same basic element saves lots of money on engineering costs.

+0
Wednesday, May 21, 2003 7:35 AM
As for the US vs. foreign patent rights...

If you are filing a patent application as a US entity, there are typically two applications you file: one for domestic rights, and another for foreign rights. I don't completely understand it (despite having filed one and being in the process of filing another---I'm actually thankful for the lawyers for dealing with all this), but it appears there is some sort of 'central agency' that aggregates each country's patent system into one global mass.

There are some differences between the two systems. For example, if you publish your work, you have one year from publication to file in the US, but must file internationally *before* the invention is disclosed.

------------------
http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~bnoble/

+0
Wednesday, May 21, 2003 8:48 AM
I think they just change the names, for example- boomerangs, cobra rolls, and bowties are basically the same thing.

------------------
Purple cows eat silver moon pies, among fiesty, glowing fireflies.

+0
Friday, May 23, 2003 10:45 AM
Werner Stengel has some patents on ride elements.

I believe the dive loop, immelman, cobra roll, batwing, vertical figure eight, horizontal figure eight, revolution, tophat, ...
He designed MANY ! Including the world's first good vertical looping, and a redesigned corkscrew for B&M.

------------------
Roarrrr...

+0
Friday, May 23, 2003 11:34 AM
I've heard of most elements, but what is a vertical figure 8 & a revolution? Is one of those the immelman/helix combo found on the fire dragon?

-Matt
------------------
TTD: the most exciting & intense moments of every coaster rolled into 17 seconds of pure sensory overload!

+0
Friday, May 23, 2003 2:07 PM

Belgian said:
Werner Stengel has some patents on ride elements.

I believe the dive loop, immelman, cobra roll, batwing, vertical figure eight, horizontal figure eight, revolution, tophat, ...
He designed MANY ! Including the world's first good vertical looping, and a redesigned corkscrew for B&M.

------------------
Roarrrr...


*Hearty belly laugh* Let me know when you see someone try to put a patent on a fighter pilot maneuver (immelman).

------------------
I'm not an enthusiast. I just play one on message boards.

+0
Friday, May 23, 2003 11:29 PM
I saw a vertical figure-eight in an old issue of Rollercoaster! magazine. It was part of a trade show a model for a Schwarzkopf coaster that was never built. Imagine a circular loop with a 180-degree twist at the top, and a smaller vertical loop on top of that: Schwarzkopf climb, vertical loop, Schwarzkopf dive. Great idea for an element, but it just didn't look possible.
*** This post was edited by Railshark 5/24/2003 3:30:27 AM ***
+0
Saturday, May 24, 2003 1:02 AM

Homey G. said:

*Hearty belly laugh* Let me know when you see someone try to put a patent on a fighter pilot maneuver (immelman).


This topic is not about stunt manoeuvres with airplanes. It's about calculated rollercoaster elements.
Sure, everyone can twist some track into a loop or corkscrew, but a fully calculated version can be patented !

------------------
Roarrrr...

+0
Saturday, May 24, 2003 4:35 AM
Well, me being the expert legal expert I am (a semester of legal education in senior some time back :)), wouldn't a copyright be more applicable to an element, rather than a patent?

A patent is generally for a distinctively new invention, such as the Arrow 4D (which presumably is patented, which would at least mean any alleged B&M 4D won't be seen on US soil for 20 years). I personally wouldn't consider a particular shape of track to be an invention, or even an improvement on an existing invention, which would in short constitute a patent, but hey - that's for the courts to decide.

Generally, the invention in question has to be significantly different to existing inventions, in order to be granted the patent. I would personally say that most inversions are the same basic thing (they turn you upside down, and are generally only variations of the corkscrew or loop), as are all these new Intamin/Stengel turns and various overbanked pieces (ie, just turns or camel backs with a twist).

In my totally non-legally oriented mind, Belgian, by that thinking, I could design and calculate a flat, 90ยบ turn, and patent that... it surely can't be that simple (which indeed you are suggesting).

Now all we need is someone who knows what they're talking about (who hasn't just turned off the TV after watching The Man Who Sued God ;)).

------------------
So what if the best coaster in Australia is a second hand Arrow?

-Total Thrills Amusement Guide
Australia's Premier Source for Thrills!

+0
Saturday, May 24, 2003 4:59 PM
Here is a picture of Schwarzkopf's 'Figure Eight' inversion: http://www.coasterglobe.com/features/history-inversion/fig8loop.jpg

------------------
The Other Siebert

+0
Saturday, May 24, 2003 6:13 PM
I don't remember seeing any inversion/element patents, actually.

Not that the loop could've been patented, when there was prior art from 1902 or whatever. The corkscrew maybe, but it wasn't.

The ride system and the trains were, though, I think.

+0
Saturday, May 24, 2003 6:51 PM
While a quick search at the us patent office didn't turn up any patents with the word coaster in them, there is an article about Busch Gardens trying to trademark the word "Egypt."

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/foia/ttab/2eissues/2000/74686509.pdf

Goes to show the quality of the us patent office. A search of the european patent office turns up us patents on roller coaster elements. 6,047,645 shows track layout and train design within the patent application.
*** This post was edited by WhyBoblo 5/24/2003 11:14:01 PM ***

+0
Saturday, May 24, 2003 9:14 PM
I'm not sure what your search problem was. Others have no problem finding plenty of US coaster patents.
+0
Sunday, May 25, 2003 11:20 AM
In fact, three minutes of searching reveals that Stengel, not Intamin holds the patent for milled gluelam wooden coaster track. But I couldn't find any Stengel patents for ride elements.
+0
Monday, May 26, 2003 1:40 PM
SquishyMon said: 'I think they just change the names, for example- boomerangs, cobra rolls, and bowties are basically the same thing'.

Fair point, but the bowtie element is not the same as the boomerang and cobra roll. The bowtie to the bat wing is what the sea serpent is to the cobra roll.

+0
Monday, May 26, 2003 3:27 PM
A note on loop patents. While you obviously couldn't patent a loop in general, you might be able to patent a loop designed to a specific mathematical formula in order to create a specific effect in the rider's sensations. Of course the competition would argue that your loop was just an insignificant variation on a previous loop, etc.
+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2018, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...