Saw one of these being used by the C. C.. They were pulling Skotch Broom
plant out of one of the bay area open space parks. Went home and welded up one
for a neighbor who has a similar task. I used an old wood rasp for the jaws
and the rest was just steel from the pile. Pictures at
That's a good project tool, but is it even more fun than the Garden Weasle?
Those prickly wood rasps are great for numerous applications, especially the
one you chose. I've epoxied them to aluminum bar stock (as an
extension/handle) to rip thru and roughen repair areas in fiberglas, with
the teeth cutting on the pull stroke.
They also cut soft cast iron for roughing work.
I understand your sense of pride in cranking out something useful to
help your neighbor, and doing it at very low cost from scrap steel.
Did you give any thought to the "U.S. Patent No. 4,856,759" on that web
site you referenced? I did.
Cut and paste this link in your browser if it's too long to click on:
The patent was issued in 1989, so it still has some life left.
A U.S. Patent grants the patent holder the sole rights to "making, using
or selling" the patented item during the life of the patent. Just making
*one* for yourself without the permission of the patent holder is a
no-no. Making one and giving it to someone else to use is worse.
You didn't say you made any significant changes to the overall working
design of the device. If I'm wrong about that then disregard the
following lecture and go on being proud about what you made in peace.
As a guy with a few patents to my name, I find it hard to condone what
you say you've done, and IMHO it isn't too wise to brag about doing it
where who knows might read it, particularly in a post to a newsgroup
with others who may decide to be encouraged to make one themselves.
Ness probably invested a lot of his own blood, sweat, tears, time and
money obtaining a patent on his invention and getting it on the market.
To not honor his patent is a piss poor way to reward him for his efforts.
It would have been much classier to just buy one as a gift for your
neighbor, or at least keep quiet about what you did. While there's
little chance that the patent holder or his assignee will bother to make
trouble for you, think about the following words:
"There is no right way to do the wrong thing."
Just my .02,
Thanks. I thought about making one of these a few years back, but the
pictures on the web site were not quite clear enough for me to see
exactly how it was made. That and I really don't have a real need.
But may make one anyway.
> Saw one of these being used by the C. C.. They were pulling Skotch Broom
> plant out of one of the bay area open space parks. Went home and welded up one
> for a neighbor who has a similar task. I used an old wood rasp for the jaws
> and the rest was just steel from the pile. Pictures at
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004 21:15:19 -0400, Jeff Wisnia
vaguely proposed a theory
......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email
I was in a farm shop a while back and there was a thing along those
lines for pulling "star pickets" but it used the cam effect of a
hinged piece of steel. This thing was priced at about Aud$120-140, and
I thought "I could make that for $20 and a couple of hours' work"
The price on many of these things just means the average DIY guy
simply makes one, especially farm guys.
As you said, it also takes very little to alter the thing past the
patent. Far more important, surely, to focus on the big companies that
ruin some honest small company by doing just that, than to take into
someone who simply builds a take-off of what looked like quite an
A "kangaroo" jack is cheaper than those things, with the same loads
and problems, and a lot of moving parts and pins to go with it.
And even if Hungary were a part of the US of A, the act cited by Lennie
does not apply to patents issued before 1-1-1996. The old law gives no
specific personal use exception.
Wasn't there a monster thread about this very issue about a year ago?
The fence post pullers I'm familiar with use a cocking loop or hook
which jams on the post in the same fashion as one of those "washer
stops" on a pnumatic screen door closer. The subject tree pulling device
uses parallel jaws closed by a linkage.
'Course the patent examiners could have overlooked some prior art which
should have prevented them from issuing the patent, but until that's
proved in a Federal Court, I believe the patent stands.
No doubt some folks on this newsgroup will think I'm being a real PIA
for even bringing up the issue of a patent on this thread. I was
prepared for that when I started pontificating on the subject. And yes,
I was personally screwed by someone infringing on a patent I owned, but
that was over 40 years ago. It sure didn't ruin my life, and even I
can't hold a grudge that long.
It's not so much the patent issue which bothers me. It's that the OP was
giving us yet one more example of the disappointing direction our
society is heading, or maybe even plummeting.
We're now at the point where someone apparently thinks so little about
the rule of law and the rights of a patent holder that he'll blatantly
add insult to injury by posting a link to the holder's web site to show
us a picture of his patent violation. (The least he could have done was
snap his own photo of his work and upload it to the drop box.)
From the looks of it, the patent holder here isn't some multinational
behemoth, but just a working stiff who came up with a "better mousetrap"
about 15 years ago and quite likely invested his own savings into
producing and marketing it. He probably hasn't "made millions" on it.
While imitation is often called the 'sincerest form of flattery', I
doubt if the patent holder will feel very flattered if he should happen
upon the OP. I hope for his sake he doesn't, 'cause I think I know just
how he'd feel.
Just my .02,
I don't recall it... And I still believe the US patent laws give the
patent holder exclusive rights. But, I'm more than aware that it's
generally impractical to enforce those rights against individual
infringers who aren't doing it "for profit".
However, I submit that the money those infringers save by by not
spending it with the rightful supplier is, from an accounting point of
view at least, a "profit" to them.
One reason why things like the subject "Weed Wrench" are "overpriced" is
because a small manufacturer's overhead has to be supported by a
relatively low volume of sales. (And in this case, it looks like the
item is probably "made in the USA" too.) One reason the sales volume
isn't higher is because of all the individuals who are "knocking them
off" for themselves instead of buying them.
People wouldn't bother making those knockoffs if they didn't want to
have the item and while it probably isn't essential to their lives that
they get one, their work is made easier if they do.
Those infringers are clearly in the same category as the folks who make
illegal copies of software or music CDs, photocopy whole books, or sneak
into a movie theater when it isn't sold out. They're not doing those
things just to waste their own time, they're doing them because they are
getting something they want. But, they all say, "This isn't hurting anyone."
No amount of artful spin can ever turn those "wrongs" into "rights".
Jeff (Whose associate Pancho Sanza sends his regards...)
Thanks for taking the time and effort to respond to my posting of the weed
wrench and patents. Lots of food for thought there. My thought has been
patents were to protect manufactures from competition in the market place.
I would have to admit I have built many things over the years that may have
been covered by patents. Most tools for example would be out of my range
unless I built them myself. For example this weed wrench at $180 + tax and
freight could never be justified for the limited use it will receive. My
lawnmower which I use weekly was bought used for $20. Can't justify $180 weed
wrench for such a small return. So the question becomes to use the technology
that exists and make one or do the job in an outdated method. While that
doesn't answer the patent question, it does show the intent.
I notice the Internet is full of idea sharing. Some are original ideas
probably without patents, others are detailed plans for knock off of items that
are probably patented. Again I think these are all offered for the DYI for his
own consumption and not for resale.
A random thought is no one makes a ball point pen or a skill saw from
scratch because it is not financially feasible. Many other items are that way
also. The cost of materials for the DYI is equal to or in excess of the retail
price. When an item is priced with a huge mark up between material costs and
retail it encourages not only DYI to build, mfgs to duplicate or look for other
way around the need. For example the sanding pad for a quater sheet sander is
5-10 dollars but a computer mouse pad is free or cheap and is the same or
better material. How do the computer people give them away or sell cheap and
the tool people market the same material at a price that encourages people to
look else where?
So one form of patent protection is pricing.
Noticed that right after I hit "send". Oh well.
U of I has some on the experimental use exception, but it seems it's
common law, probably been declared outdated by "modern" types. Makes
reference to making, using, modifying, studying for research (personal
only), amusement purposes but only without any commercial interest.
"Interpretations" of the original common law seem to be getting
narrower, but not entirely nullifying, yet.
However, if an inventor is worried about one person making a knock off
of his invention, only one, and for his own amusement, that's a pretty
shaky invention to begin with. I don't think most of us have to worry
much about it.
True, but in a very analogous vein, what happens if that one person
turns into hundreds of thousands of persons each one making only one
copy of a copyrighted musical number, and pretty obviously just for
their "own amusement". Pretty hard to justify that, isn't it? The
principle's the same, it's only a matter of degree. How would you feel
about that if you were the composer or producer of that piece of music?
I don't think most of us have to worry
Agreed, but I hope that when we (myself included) do stuff like that
we'd stop and feel just a teensy bit guilty about it.
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004 13:13:57 -0400, Jeff Wisnia
vaguely proposed a theory
......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email
If they siply add in their "wages and overheads", the profit could
shrink to nothing very easily.
Which they do because the item, although a good idea, is overpriced,
and they did not do their cost/benefit and market checks. They have
started a vicious cycle. IMO the people making the device need to
smarten up. They need to have irons in the fire, and / or outsource
the manufacture, whether overseas or not is obviously another matter.
Here's an example. I have a rock post hole borer that I am
refurbishing. As I have to weld on new tips and holders, I have a
choice of suppliers. I went to the local farm shop and they had
holders for $27 each and TCT tips for $24 each. on the web I found a
company that _among other ventures_, made post hole borers. I was able
to reatil from them at $14 and $15 per unit. I get on well with the
guys in the local shop, so I told them. They said that was a lot less
than _they_ were paying for the items, from the company that only made
post hole borers.
There are a million inventions lying around out there because the
inventors overvalued their own worth in the overall project, or at
least undeerestimated the cost of "just making tghe thing and letting
it sell" and refused an offered deal from a manufacturer / marketer.
BTW, last time I looked, those star picket pullers were not for sale
Legally, _maybe_. But if I wrote software that allowed me to copy the
material, or otherwise used my skills to recreate the material,
because I felt that I could do it easily enough to justify my work,
_then_ I am in the same category.
Not wrongs and rights but legals and illegals.
There is logic in there as well.
Copyrights are a different animal entirely, they don't have the
"experiment or amusement" common law. They're also iron clad for
seventy years. The common law seems to be pretty quiet about
copyrights and the arts, in Bachs day, "Imitation is the sincerest
form of flattery." Plagiarism is a relatively recent invention. Many
of the works of Bach are based on themes by other, often older,
composers. Not unusual to see them notated as "based on a theme by
Not particularly, when I make something that may be patented, I
normally modify it to my own particular needs, and it's not
infringing, or at least has the benefit of being an "improvement",
although if I read it right, that's not patentable until the original
patent expires. It's patentable, but only by the person holding the
invention that was modified. Nother whole can of worms.
I think you have it backwards. IIRC the patent law used to allow
making patented things for personnel use. But I think it was changed
so that the U.S. law was the same as most other countries and now does
not allow manufacture for personnel use.
In which case it would seem that they'd "come out the same" as if they
purchased the product from the patent holder, so why not do the legal thing?
Nothing wrong with that, and I too despise manufacturers who try and
rape their captive customers with outrageous markups on parts and
supplies, particularly when there's no alternative source.
Case in point: We lease a little Neopost IJ25 postage meter for our
family business. It uses ink jet printing to "stamp" the mail. Our first
ink jet cartridge needed replacement in less than a year,(Per a warning
which came up on the meter's display.)and as I soon found out the meter
"locked up" a couple of weeks later even though the printing had still
looked fine. A call to Neopost informed me that the meter wouldn't work
until we inserted a new cartridge.
The cartridges are available only from Neopost and cost us about $75
landed. When I changed the first cartridge my curiosity made me pry open
its plastic shell. Inside I found a common HP ink jet cartridge (It was
even labeled "HP")and one small IC chip. The HP cartridge had at least
3/4 of it's original ink load, inside a collapsable plastic pouch.
I could buy that HP cartridge for under $25 from a zillion places, but
the IC chip is a "poison pill" which starts a clock when the cartridge
is put in the meter. That clock is set to run down 9 months later, even
if you only use the meter to "stamp" one letter during the whole time.
A rough calculation says that at our postage use of about $150.00 per
month (Mostly 37 cent "stamps")we're spending 3 cents on "ink" for every
piece of mail we run through that meter. Pretty high, huh?
I complained to Neopost about that, particularly since that "planned
death" is mentioned nowhere in their sales literature or instruction
manual. All I got was a vague mumbled reference to satisfying USPS
requirements regarding printing quality. It's too small a matter to
start a war over, but you can bet I'll have a closer look at what we're
getting into when the lease on this machine expires, and Neopost won't
be high on my list of potential vendors.
Agreed, and I keep hearing that the averaged "return" from all the
patents ever issued by the USPO is far far less that the money the
inventors spent obtaining those patents. (And.....the lawyers are the
real winners again, dammit!)
Yep, and I've been alive long enough not to confuse the law with
What caused me to reply to the OP was not so much his beating a high
purchase cost by making his own Weed Wrench. It was more the chutzpah
(probably unintentional) of using the manufacturer's own web site to
demonstrate what he'd done, with its patent number clearly showing.
I just realized why that struck a nerve. One of the many things my
talented wife Judith does is publish a specialized reading instruction
program for children and adults with specific learning difficulties.
Yours truly spent hundreds of hours helping with that project, doing all
the donkey work needed to turn text and drawings into finished, printed,
salable products. I can't say we've lost money on it, but we're still a
long way from tooling around in a Ferrari.
One of SWMBO's web site pages shows samples of a couple of the images
from the program used to help students associate sounds with letters.
About a year ago we received an e-mail from a teacher saying she'd
downloaded the images from that page and they were working great with
her students. She asked us if we were going to put more of them on the
web site so she could use them too. (Chutzpah personified, eh?
Particularly since the e-mail came from Israel. )
Sorry I can't read anymore. Your right. I would guess that since it
has a web site that the owner is keeping up with the maintenance fees,
but did the OP check??? Its not that hard or costly to file an
infringement suit. That would change the tune of telling how to make a
cheap one on a news group ! I agree with you , go for it. I've got a
letter from the PTO in front of me that I got days ago and its still
unopened cause I know what it says (pay). Jump on my patent when its
active and your just asking for trouble. Drop a dime if you feel
adamant about it. Patents aren't as easy to get around as most people
think , you have to under mine the prior art just to get one. IIRC
it's in 800 of the MPEP. Just looked , 806.05(c) has some like math
that can give a better understanding of the LAW. :o)
Patent law is cool , but they have this little rule about having to
have a BA . Kinda like working around union people. Oh, I was
thinking this morning about law makers and how long winded they are in
print , they must be good at communicating so why can't they say
something intelligible when they speak?
Not me....No reason for me to do that, I haven't been harmed by any of
this, and I truly believe that the OP didn't intend to do anything
Patents aren't as easy to get around as most people
The "funest" patent I got involved with was back in the early 60s. At a
wedding reception I met a guy named Ed seated next to me at our table
who was the absentee owner of several pool halls in downtown Beantown;
some of them were pretty rough places.
Ed knew he was being stolen blind by his "managers" who'd put some of
the receipts in the till and the rest in their pockets. There was no
"inventory" to keep tabs on, like say liquor in a barroom. (But cheating
bartenders can bring in their own bottles... and that led to another fun
project I got involved with, and another story.)
Ed was sharp enough to figure out that his customers wouldn't play pool
unless the light hanging over their table was turned on. Ed's rooms
charged a linear rate per unit time for tables rental, so all he needed
was a way to individually control the table lights from the manager's
station and a contraption for monitoring which lights were on that would
tote up the aggregate amount of lamp minutes used times the rental rate
per minute. The day's receipts had to match that amount or the manager
had some explaining to do.
Accomplishing that wasn't rocket science, even in those
pre-microprocessor days, and I built a console to do the job, using just
switches, Veeder Root counters, pilot lights, a motor driven reed relay
distributor switch and stuff like that. We stuck a relay in each table's
lamp fixture so they could be switched on and off with low voltage
control wiring to avoid a big electrician's bill for installation. The
console also displayed each individual table's charges, like a gas pump
The system worked exactly as intended, and the "manager" of the first
pool room we equipped quit a couple of days later. I made more consoles
for his other pool rooms and Ed was a happy man.
Ed and I became co-owners of "Billiard Controls, Inc." and applied for
and received a US patent on the system. We never got rich off that
invention, but we didn't lose money either. Some of the market factors
we didn't take into account were that "good help was hard to find" so a
lot of pool room owners we thought would be "instant purchasers" decided
they'd rather let their help clip them a little than have to keep
finding new employees. That, coupled with the Viet Nam war pulling a lot
of pool players away from the pool halls made for a weak industry and
poor sales for us.
The project sort of petered out after a couple of years and we went on
with our lives.
Thanks for the mammaries,