patents question

Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:17 PM

do manufactures patent stuff like track design, wheel assemblies, train designs etc?

we all know that B&M coasters are the smoothest around, so why dont other companies use box section track (dont open the whole giovanola can of worms) and B&M style wheel assmeblies? is it all patented up to the eyeballs?

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Nemesis Inferno - The Pressure is Building!
Rare RollerCoaster Resources - http://clik.to/rrcr

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:20 PM

Yes, it is all patented. Although, some companies could very well rip it off with only a slight work-around. Example:

Some scientist created LSD decades ago. Well, everybody wanted to try it, but he held the copyright. He was planning to charge hundreds of dollars per "hit", so what did the American government do? They outlawed it. Now, every criminal can make as much of this horrible chemical as they want and not have to pay any copyright fees.

See? If B&M is every declared illegal, then other companies can just rip them off. Otherwise, they are going to have to pay up!

PS. Intamin stuff is really smooth too, but nobody ever rips them off. I wonder why. Probably because they have much tinier capacity than B&M does.

Peace.

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:24 PM

ok, but how come some companies stuff is so similar? for example, wild mouse track is identical whatever manufacturer it comes from. did the companies just not bother to patent it?

plus, intamins do have good capacity, almost up with B&M. a typical 2 train operation on an intamin (in using colossus at thorpe park as an example) is about 1300 pph, and a 2 train B&M operation (using nemesis at alton towers as an example) is 1400 pph, so it isnt much difference. and although intamins are 2 across, they do hold 4 people per car! anyway, this topic isnt about capacity...

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Nemesis Inferno - The Pressure is Building!
Rare RollerCoaster Resources - http://clik.to/rrcr

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:27 PM

Ok, how about an example.

Consider the first person to get stoned off of pot. Now, he couldn't very well copyright the plant because it's just a plant.

The track on wildmouse trains is similar. It's just steel. The fabrication processes are probably different, but the end result is very similar. The wheel assemblies on the trains, however, are vastly different.

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:49 PM
An Intamin Hyper/Giga holds more people (36) than a B&M Hyper (32). Although after realizing that many B&M hypers can run 3 trains, my capacity argument is irrelevant, ;-)

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164 and counting...

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:53 PM

Okay.........Enough of GrandC's drug Illustrations(no offense;)), here is they way it is...If a company wanted to use the Box Track(as Intamin did in the past), then all they would have to do is go 2 Giovanola and have them ask for it, though it is doubtful they would, since B & M are such loyal customers, they wouldn't want 2 Pi$$ them off. To actually make the track themselves, they would have to tweak the design so as not 2 encroach on the copyright held by G.

as for wild mouse coasters, alot of it has to do with them being so old, that it is probable that there never was a Patent on it, so now all a company has to do is come up with their own train and patent that. Some things cannot be copyrighted(a company can't copyright a car, but they could copyright they way they design their car, or certain aspects of the car, but since a car is universal, you can't just copyright it, much like you probably couldn't copyright a wild mouse, since it's rather universal, but you could make yours with a spinning train, a two car train, a special wheel assembly, etc.

got it?

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Sdrawkcab siht daer ot emit eht koot yllautca uoy?

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:55 PM
yeah, thanks for that. i can understand it so much better without the colourful drug metaphors!

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Nemesis Inferno - The Pressure is Building!
Rare RollerCoaster Resources - http://clik.to/rrcr

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 7:24 PM

Other patented things- B&M Inverts. I hear Vekoma got around this by just dampening the swing found on their suspendeds, and adding loops. But how did intamin get around this? They call them SLCs too, but are they like Vekoma's or B&Ms.

The lamest copy off of a B&M patent are the giant inverted bommerangs. 1/2 the riders have to ride in solitary confinement. Why even bother with 4 across seating?

Intamins are very smooth too. Look at things like Millenium force, california screaming, and xcelerator. Their capacities are very high too. California Screaming can dispatch a 24 passenger train every 36 seconds. Thats the equivilent of a 40 passenger train every 1 minute, 2400 PPH capacity! And they do often use 6 trains, and they have tested with 7 (although they really don't need to, so they run 3-5 on "busy" days for the park, and the rides a walk on). Now, how many B&Ms realistically get a capacity over 1200? Raptor is the only one I can think of (well excluding the obvious ice and fire dragons). And their stadium seating Coaster trains can hold as many passengers as B&M speed coaster. The track or 4 across aspect has nothing to do with the capacity. Intamin stadium seating cars are very short, and have little legroom. The trains aren't double the length of a B&M speed coaster's trains, more like 30% longer. The problem is though, with shorter trains, more time is wasted doing things like the safety speil, getting the train in and out of the station, and getting the passengers from the loading gate into the train.

I wonder if Intamin will ever be crazy enough to have a 2 story coaster using their box track. Have an invert on the bottom and a sit down on top. It would be pretty sweet, and if they can come up with a freefall/coaster ferris wheel, they can dream up something like this. They need to finish the launched water ride concept first though.

BTW, aren't intamin wheel assemblies identical to B&Ms. A lot of things are similar when B&M sprung from Intamin.

*** This post was edited by Speedy on 1/19/2003. ***

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Saturday, January 18, 2003 7:47 PM
Someone else on this forum is a lot better qualified to answer the questions about patentability than I am, so I won't address that issue.

But every manufacturer has its own design philosophy (well, except for ******, who's design philosophy is "copy everybody else bolt-for-bolt") and so each company devises its own ways of doing things. Nobody else uses the B&M box track, for instance, because for the most part nobody else thinks it is necessary or appropriate...space frame track is lighter, just as strong or stronger, and easier to fabricate. Or at least that's what the other manufacturers apparently think. Likewise, there are a dozen different ways to build a wheel assembly. The B&M and Intamin wheel assemblies are not identical, but they both feature a lot of ideas copied from earlier Schwarzkopf designs.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Sunday, January 19, 2003 1:00 AM
Patents don't really mean that much. A keyboard has been patented over a 1000 times, but still everybody who wants to can make them.

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Dutch Coastin' :: European coasters, thrills and theming!

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Sunday, January 19, 2003 5:22 AM

Speedy said:

Other patented things- B&M Inverts. I hear Vekoma got around this by just dampening the swing found on their suspendeds, and adding loops. But how did intamin get around this? They call them SLCs too, but are they like Vekoma's or B&Ms.

Vekoma Suspended Looping Coasters ( SLC ) don't swing back and forth, and the track used on them is different from the track on Vekoma's suspendeds. On suspened coasters, the cross ties are on the inside of the running rails, while the cross ties on SLC track are on the outside of the running rails.

The difference in track from company to company could possibly be the reason why Vekoma, Intamin and B&M can all build inverted coasters. Plus the differences in wheel assemblies, restraints and trains, like mentioned above. Here are some photos of the differences in track:

Vekoma: http://www.rcdb.com/installationgallery770.htm?Picture=9

Intamin: http://www.rcdb.com/installationgallery1076.htm?Picture=3

B&M: http://www.rcdb.com/installationgallery1.htm?Picture=7

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Intelligence is a God given gift: Know how to use it.


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Sunday, January 19, 2003 3:03 PM

I'm not the patent examiner that Rideman referred to, but I have worked with patents enough to add some points not mentioned.

1) Patents only provide protection for 17 years in the US. This means that any coaster design element patented before 1986 is no longer protected.

2) Patent protection is based on specific claims. You don't really patent a roller coaster, you patent certain design features.

3) Even if a patent is granted, it does not protect you if someone can show that your claims are not valid. For example if you patented the looping coaster in 1970, you would have no protection since someone else could show earlier use of loops on coasters. You might have been able to get a valid patent on the particular mathematical shape of your loop if no one had used that exact shape before. Note, you would have to show why your shape has advantages.

4) If someone made a loop to a slightly different formula, they maybe able to get around your patent. It's very common to look at the other guy's patent and then try to figure out how to engineer around it.

5) The cost of enforcing a patent can be quite high. You always have to ask yourself if it is worth the cost.

One other note, the smoothness of B&M track has little to do with the fact that they use a box spine. It has more to do with the design of their transitions and the precision of their bending. (Actually subed to an outfit in Cincinnati for all US B&Ms.)

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Sunday, January 19, 2003 5:55 PM

CoasterKrazy said:

Vekoma Suspended Looping Coasters ( SLC ) don't swing back and forth, and the track used on them is different from the track on Vekoma's suspendeds. On suspened coasters, the cross ties are on the inside of the running rails, while the cross ties on SLC track are on the outside of the running rails.


Vekoma SLCs do actually have the ability to swing. The seating is not welded onto the wheel assemblies like B&M presumably do (they appear to be welded, anyone want to confirm it for me?). They have a central hinge, which connects the two. They then have two shock absorbers on each car - they are shaped in a V, and stop the cars from swinging much.

On the unbanked turns in the sections of brakes, you can see the car in front swinging slightly around the curves - it isn't any great amount, but it is noticable.

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

-www.totalthrills.com-
Australia's Premier Source for Thrills!

*** This post was edited by auscoasterman on 1/19/2003. ***

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Sunday, January 19, 2003 5:57 PM
yeah, i heard about this before. i think its a way of getting round a B&M patent. its basically a suspended coaster but with shock absorbers so they dont swing. could be another reason why SLCs are rough

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Nemesis Inferno - The Pressure is Building!
Rare RollerCoaster Resources - http://clik.to/rrcr

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Monday, January 20, 2003 1:21 AM
Auscoasterman is right there. Vekoma was forced to use another type of suspension, because the B&M suspension was patented. On their new type of SLC (the GSLC, or XSLC) they have used B&M suspension though, after making a deal.

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Dutch Coastin' :: European coasters, thrills and theming!

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Monday, January 20, 2003 9:04 AM

auscoasterman said:


Vekoma SLCs do actually have the ability to swing. The seating is not welded onto the wheel assemblies like B&M presumably do (they appear to be welded, anyone want to confirm it for me?). They have a central hinge, which connects the two. They then have two shock absorbers on each car - they are shaped in a V, and stop the cars from swinging much.



I stand corrected. I didn't realize that Vekoma SLC trains had the ability to swing ( Even though they don't, thankfully. ) I went to Roller Coaster Database and there are a few photos there that show the shock absorbers that you mentioned.

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Intelligence is a God given gift: Know how to use it.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 2:19 PM

Hmm, I think I *am* the patent Examiner that was previously reffered to. :) First, let me clear something up for GandC, you CAN get a patent for a plant/flower. There is an entire section in the Manual of Patent Examing Procedure (MPEP, see here and more specifically here)

As Jim said, even if patents existed for things like wild mouse track and B&M "box" type track, chances are the majority of them would now be expired. However, to my knowledge, there is not US Patent for "box" track held by B&M. Moreover, the "box" spine was around well before B&M as evidenced by the spines on many Schwarzkopf coasters including Tidal Wave(SFGAm)/Viper(SFoG)/Greezed Lightnin' (SFKK).

There is *much* more that can be said about patents, but I'll just leave it at that for now. I think there is enough info here to cover most general questions.

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"To get into this head of mine, would take a monkey-wrench, and a lot of wine" Res How I Do

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