MTH vs. NMRA, QSI, Digitrax, Lenz, TCS, Soundtraxx, etc.

Copied from http://forum.atlasrr.com and passing it along (it also was on the Digitrax list, apparently):

largest producer of

back-emf control. As

desist orders to

name -- including

BLI engines shipped

the Tsunami decoder

overturn it. (Note: this

this is about the

have any

back-emf or "constant

patent), let me know

get this overturned.

forced to remove back-

to introduce any HO,

between QSI (who makes

saw they might

discussed before MTH's

could be terrible news, but

In rebuttal there is this:

that
its
My opinion: I have to say I don't use BEMF, nor am I all that concerned with the NMRA's Bi-Directional communication format. However, I think this is a dumb thing to do by MTH. If you like BEMF, you better stock up on decoders now. If you liked the possibilities outlined in the latest MR ("Third Generation DCC"), you might as well forget about it. If they get away with this, I know I will never buy their stuff (easy for me to say, I'm in HO) and I will certainly tell others not to (this might be more effective, as I know several O scalers). Stan Ames, I know you used to post here. Have you got any info you can share?
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Which part - developing the technology, patenting it, or enforcing their patent?
Patents are property, and if what you report is true, they do own the technology.
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I doubt it's that black and white.
I think things might be just slightly gray. Maybe even Harbor Mist gray.
Andy ----------------------------------------------------------- http://www.duckcreek.org - Pre-Interstate Urban Archaeology -----------------------------------------------------------
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Two sets of initials that will live for infamy in the realms of model railroading, UP and MTH.
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wrote:

Well at least I have nothing to lose by "boycotting" MTH. If it wasn't for this news group, I probably wouldn't even know what MTH was.
Andy
----------------------------------------------------------- http://www.duckcreek.org - Pre-Interstate Urban Archaeology -----------------------------------------------------------
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wrote:

Andy, I think those patent forms are written that way just to keep patent lawyers in business! :-D
Semi-seriously, they are kinda vague (the patents, not the lawyers). It will not do this hobby any good, no matter what comes of it. What's next? Is someone going to patent 3.5mm to the foot as a scale for model trains? Or maybe the use of nickle-silver metal for track material? Jeez...
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Here are the patents registered by MTH according to www.uspto.gov :
#6,619,594 Control, sound, and operating system for model trains (9/9/2002)
#6,604,641 Low-power electrically operated coupler (9/9/2002)
#6,491,263 Power supply unit and rail switching mechanism for model track layouts (7/11/2001)
#6,457,681 Control, sound, and operating system for model trains (12/7/2000)
#6,281,606 Plural output electric train control station (12/16/1998)
#6,019,289 Modular track segment for model railroad track and electrical accessory therefor (1/16/1998)
Please note the recent date of these patents. In fact, MTH's patent that has to do with BEMF (#6,619,594) was filed on 9/9/2002. A quick check of the Lenz.com website shows that Lenz was announcing BEMF decoders in 2001. I quote: "LE010XF Feb. 2, 2001 - Lenz GmbH is pleased to announce the world's smallest NMRA DCC decoder with exceptional performance of Load Compensation or "BACK EMF". Available March 2001"
Now, can someone please explain how Mike Wolf of MTH can claim a patent on BEMF a *year and a half* after Lenz started selling decoders with BEMF???
I admit, what I know of patent law wouldn't fill a thimble. But just from reading a little history about Westinghouse, Edison, and Tesla, et al, one gets the general impression that he who is first, gets the benefit. A "Johnny-come-lately", one would think, would be frowned upon.
BTW, I should have known *you* of all people would support MTH in this... Do you always take the side of business over modelers? First UP, now this... :-(
We, the public, through the gov't, decide what rights to give to businesses, not the other way around.
Sigh...
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
P.S. If anybody wants to give the ol' college try at reading those patents, I wish you luck. The way some of it is written, it appears that MTH's patent #6,457,681 covers all command control systems. In short, it's not an easy read. :-)
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Let's try again... Which part do you think is a dumb thing to do by MTH - developing the technology, patenting it, or enforcing their patent?
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this...
Yeah, sorry about the snippy part of that post. I really shouldn't post after midnight... :-)
Anyways, my point: What I think is "dumb" is MTH trying to stifle development and usage of other control systems that are only simular in nature to their own. This hobby doesn't need manufacturers to sue each other out of business. That's "dumb". Now, if somebody out there reversed engineered their technology and simply put a different sticker on it, that's one thing. But to say that some how they invented Back-EMF for motor control is totally absurd. It's a decades old concept.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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a
Paul, do you really think they are claiming to have invented back-EMF? I don't see it that way.
The original message by R.Geiter that you quoted claims that MTH "own the patent to back-emf control," - but let's face it, that original message is filled with holes and misconceptions which calls the whole message into question ("cease and desist orders?" "copyright infringement?" "1990 (the date of MTH's patent)?").
Come on, they guy is shooting from the hip.
The reply by Geren Mortensen seems a bit more level-headed, and he says that "only certain, specific aspects of DCC operation are in question at this time. ... ...and the other pertains to Back EMF motor control." I certainly don't see his comment as a claim that MTH invented back-EMF control, and he notes (rightly so) that the patent issue is very narrow in scope.
--
Mark



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Mark Mathu wrote:

There seems to be considerable doubt that they were first to develop the technology, considerable outrage that they had the utter chutzpah to patent it, and considerable hope that the fail utterly in enforcing such a bogus claim, but, hey, the patent office dweebs gave Bezar* a patent on "one click", so anything is possible.
--
Steve Caple

* a hairball of Amazonian proportions
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I would say, NOT developing the technology, patenting it, and then enforcing their patent. Or so a number of lay folks are alleging. But, we won't know the results until the courts get through with it.
I have a friend who tried this 4-5 years ago. Applied for a patent on something that folks knew was out there for nearly 15yrs prior. In fact, another of my friends was one of the originators, though he wasn't a mass producer of it; that went to somebody else who was a former business associate.
I remember the discussion over it then was just as hot as this one has become. I don't think that patent went through, at least I haven't found any references to it (but I haven't had a chance to do a detailed search). And the company web page doesn't cite a patent. But then again, at that time, it was an application, and the industry had plenty of time to submit arguments against. Here, it's a done deal already, and the objections will have to be after the fact.
Which is why Stan Ames was looking for documentation predating the MTH stuff.
Kennedy
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9/9/2002.< What is more important than the actual patent is paper (probably published)showing usage or development. MTH may have filed in '02 but those looking to dispute the patent are looking for things published in the mid 90s. The exact wording posted on the NMRA list was this;
"I am looking for a description of back emf decoders from the mid 90s or earlier that describes these decoders as having a constant speed going up and down the hill."
I haven't talked to anyone looking for this information yet but am guessing exactly what is stated is the information needed to combat the MTH patent!
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I faintly remember, as part of our final project, the instructor taught us or had us do the following; write up a quick description of the project and along with schematics put them in a letter, have fellow students sign the description w/dates and mail them to ourselves. When school was finished and went to work for DOD project companies you signed away any inventions with the employment papers so totally forgot the mail to yourself letter. I always thought this had something to do with copyright but those laws have changed. It might also have had to do with copyrights! It's all hazy as school was a long time ago!
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Mark Mathu wrote:

I have to agree with Mark. If they do own the patent, I certainly support their legal right to protect their property. I would hope that this can all be worked out through appropriate business contracts as you would expect to be the solution.
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This is what you have to remember with patents;
Un-patented 'prior invention' win against patents provided it is documented and provable in court. In other words, 'Prior art' wins. A patent is just a legally documented invention ownership claim.
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shared this with the world:

Provable in court. Using the services of expensive lawyers that the manufacturers in this hobby can ill afford.
Who do you suppose will ultimately end up footing the bill for all of the lawyers that the manufacturers would have to hire to prove "prior art" in a court? That's right, you and me, the buying public (through higher priced on the hobby shop shelf).
This sounds a little like what SCO is trying to do to Linux. Trying to use the legal system to generate a profit.
--

Kent Ashton | http://members.shaw.ca/kjashton -personal
snipped-for-privacy@shaw.caNADA
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No doubt a lot of people are reading FAR too much into this report. If the report is true (some parts of the original message are in question, but I haven't seen much to make me think MTH's reply wasn't factual), then yes -- MTH has patent rights.
But do they own the rights to anything that resembles back-EMF technology? No, and I don't think they are trying to claim that.
Patents are pretty specific items and MTH would have as much difficulty saying "we own all methods of back-EMF control" as the Wright Brothers would have of claiming "we own all methods of flying through the air." They can't patent the result -- but they certainly can patent their method of accomplishing it. And MTH is within their rights to send letters to various DCC manufacturers and the NMRA informing them of patents they hold in that area.
Will this affect manufacturers? No, if they are using their own method of back-EMF control. Yes, if they are using the method that MTH owns without a license agreement.
--
Mark



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says...

Actually, the Wright brothers tried that :-).
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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No, and the facts are clear on that.
Anyone with a library card or a web browser can see that their "flying machine" patent was aimed to protect their specific method of flying -- by warping the wings to control flight. There was no attempt to claim to own all methods of flying through the air.
Patents (whether by MTH or the Wright Brothers) cover very specific inventions and ideas -- you can't just patent a general concept.
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