Here's a news article from the Detroit Free Press, the home city of Lionel:
Detroit federal jury orders Lionel train-maker to pay rival $40 million
Youse guys ever hear of appeals? From what I have heard about this and
knowing many of the folks at MTH (we live in the same town), I totally
concur with the judgment. I'm not sure Lionel knew fully what transpired
with the stolen documents and plans and I would guess the lion's share of
the blame should fall on the builder.
As an artist, industrial designer, writer, and hack musician, I have know
what it is like to be plagiarized and I again I totally support MTH. What
effect this will have on the hobby..............to early to tell. As far as
publicity...that is another story. I'm more worried about the nonsense suit
brought against them by UP. That is not exactly plagiarism, but gross
Lionel in name alone is a powerful force and most definitely an icon in this
field. Even today when I meet someone named Lionel, my thoughts immediately
turn towards trains. I would not be in too much of a hurry to write their
Hopefully some of these lawyers will go home and play with their train sets.
From today's paper:
"DETROIT -- A U.S. District Court jury decided Monday that model
train-maker Lionel LLC and others should pay $40.8 million to rival
Mike's Train House Inc. for misappropriating its designs.'
Note the phrase "and others" in the article - how much of the
judgement is Lionel responsible for? How much knowledge did they have
of what was going on?
This is a case that is by no means over...
Don't bother to reply via email...I've been JoeJobbed.
Lionel's problem is that they are here (in the U.S.) and those "others" are in
a foreign country. Assuming the verdict is sustained on appeal (a HUGE
assumption) MTH can collect the entire judgment from Lionel and Lionel can only
try to recoup some of the money it paid MTH from the Koreans IN KOREA. That
won't be an easy task. This case is, literally, years away from its ultimate
By the bye, having recently heard him play, I can attest that Howard Zane is
far too modest about his musical skills. He is an accomplished banjo picker
and his lovely wife plays a mean fiddle as well.
I am interested in seeing how much of the judement Lionel is responsible for,
too. So far I've seen a report of at least $12.8 million. From what I
understand part of MTH's charge was that Lionel had to know that the plans
were stolen based on all of the circumstances.
... and in related news, Mike's Train House has announced that they will be
changing the name of their company to Mike's Train Mansion.
Do you find it a good thing? Have something against toy trains? I
had them when I was a kid and many children still do have Lionels. It
is a good starting point to get children interested in trains. They
are big and rugged so a child can play with them. If you don't like
toy trains you have a real problem, since all electric trains,
regardless of scale, are in reality toys.
And in case you didn't know it, now that MTH has won this suit against
Lionel, they will turn there attention towards all scales as they are
suing the makers of DCC, all of them, because of some sort of
infringement on their DCS control system which they had first. That
is going to effect all of the hobby unless you are like me and run DC,
then is doesn't matter.
No, I thought you were down on Lionel. The fact they are the last toy train
manufacturer and they may be in trouble is a bad thing.
Also, I don't care about DCC, at home I run DC, our club just voted and only
ONE member wanted DCC on the club layout, all the rest voted against it. It
is far to expensive for the small benefit youu get.
<<<<<<<<MTH will gain ownership of the Lionel name thru the settlement and
most likely market his trains under the Lionel name which has more
recognition than MTH
That will be the end of Lionel as we know it.
S/V Express 30 "Ringmaster"
"No shirt, no skirt, full service"
Considering that pretty well all of MTH's claimed intellectual property
was and is public domain knowldge (eg, found in eletronics textbooks,
articles in the mrr press, etc), the suit simply illustrates two
features of the intellectual climate of the US of A:
a) general ignorance of science of technology - appallingly high for a
country that relies so much on both;
b) a woefully underfunded and undertrained patent office.
I don't know which is more dangerous in the long run.
As for the $40.7M award - that an idiotic figure, but normal for US tort
juries, from which so many candidates are excluded that those that do
get on can barely count their thumbs.
I think you may be confusing the Lionel-MTH case with the much more
recent one that MTH has brought against Broadway Limited Imports.
The later BLI case is mostly just an unauthorized use of "intellectual
property" issue. It is yet to be decided.
The earlier case involved actual theft of property in the form of plans,
which were then used to build and market a competing product. Much more
than 'intellectual property was involved. The 'dirty work' was
apparently conducted by the Korean builder ... how much Lionel may have
known is unclear.
Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:
Let me get this straight...MTH sued Lionel because they stole intellectual
property from them? If you look through an MTH catalog, you'll find that just
about every single structure they've made in O scale has been an EXACT copy of
an existing HO scale kit made by another manufacturer. That's okay?
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