ZTC Ceased Trading

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"Dobbin" wrote
Not really surprising; their product was out-of-date and over-expensive. Very difficult for the small fish to compete in the big picture.
John.
Reply to
John Turner
"Andrew Robert Breen" wrote
Just consider yourslelf lucky. You'll now spend your money on something which works better.
John.
Reply to
John Turner
Works better in what sense? I'm not seeing anything with the throttle/brake control panel that ZTC used, which was the real appeal of their controllers. Most of 'em just seem to be button-and-knob jobs, or hand-helds (OK in their place, I know). It's not as if it's ever going to be asked to control more than 2 or 3 engines, anyway.
Just taken a look at the available systems now. Not at all thrilled by any of them. I'll probably stick with the ZTC hand-held I have. No, I don't like hand-helds, but if there's no-one offering anything that's any better than them I might as well save all of that money...
Reply to
Andrew Robert Breen
I wonder if anyone whill buy the rights[0] to use the user interface first introdiced on the ZTC 511 at least 13 years ago (based on a steam locomotive's regulator and brake). I have never used this, but it does look like a good idea, and recieved favourable reviews when it first appeared.
[0] I assume there is some form of IP protection on the design, since it has not AFAICT[1] been cloned by anyone else, and appers to be reasonably successul.
[1] I haven't looked very hard, since I use DC control and do not need to replace my controllers any time soon.
Reply to
Philip
"Andrew Robert Breen" wrote
To be fair the main problem has been with their decoders, but I would question whether any part of their system was NMRA compliant.
Doesn't both me in the least whether I operate a train with a lever, knob or a button, so I'm afraid their method of control did nothing special for me.
I also know of several people who purchased ZTC systems, who then fairly rapidly switched to other manufacturers' products. Expensive way to learn you've made a mistake.
John.
Reply to
John Turner
It is very hard to patent a user interface and have that patent stand up to challenge.
The actual physical design, and the graphics printed on the panel, is protected by copyright automatically. But, there is nothing to stop someone producing something similar and be completely clear of copyright.
Design registration offers a route to protect a general design (eg. Shell's "shell" or certain aspects of shape such as a Coke bottle), but that is hugely expensive, and I can't immediately see how that would give a company like ZTC anything which really protects their work.
The design with throttle/brake levers for a controller for model railways isn't a ZTC original. Analogue Codar controllers in the 1970's had a similar brake/throttle lever, Pentrollers (early 1980's) have throttle/brake levers, as do numerous others of that period.
That others haven't done something similar, even in software displays (which would be easy), suggests that its not as popular as ZTC might have had people believe.
The tooling to make the controller boxes might have a value if someone wanted to make them again.
- Nigel (20-odd years professional work in UI design).
Reply to
Nigel Cliffe
The design would be better covered by copyright law much as software is, open source is known as copyleft.
Chris
Reply to
Chris
Yes I had problems with ZTC decoders and the Digitrax system I have they were good enough to refund the purchase after return though.
Chris
Reply to
Chris
Unless they were being sold exclusively and expressly for the ZTC system *only* they didn't have much option, being unfit for purpose and all that!
Reply to
Jerry
It was a great system for its time originally developer by the designer for Hornby Zero 1 and featured some decoders that would work with Zero 1 as well. He sold it on to the current owners. Pity Hornby did not take them over and bring it back to the mother ship rather than start from scratch and make a few mistakes along the way. Some unkind souls would say the same as you about first generation Hornby DCC decoders as well ;)
Chris
Reply to
Chris
That is what I said earlier; Copyright is automatic. Copyright is civil law, so the only recourse is to sue someone for a breach. "copyleft" is just a term used by some of the opensource movement to describe their licenses, its not covered in any legislation.
In practise Copyright means:
Breach if I directly copy the control panel and graphics. Not a breach if I implement something similar with a brake and throttle lever arranged in same left-right arrangement and relative sizes, with approx 90 degree rotations, print graphics with different fonts and colours, etc.. (Can easily show same influence from prototype and 1970's controllers)
Breach if I directly copy their command station code for setting decoders. Not a breach if I implement something with similar sequence of commands and prompts, but with my own code, or code which is legally licensed. (Can easily show that design was logical way of doing things).
etc..
Design protection under Copyright is not that strong. I do not think that law could stop a similar-ish looking product being produced and sold.
- Nigel
Reply to
Nigel Cliffe
Yes, the key here is making an exact copy. Someone pirated a bit of my etching artwork some years ago. He was stupid enough to just blow up an etch on a photocopier and re-trace it. Unfortunately he incorporated a mistake in the design which I subsequently corrected in a later version. It was very easy to prove that he had infringed my copyright and I got substantial damages in the Small Claims Court. The joke was that he could have had the original artwork for a great deal less than his infringement cost him, and I did later sell him the original artwork.
I think he gave up being a manufacturer not long after that.
Alistair Wright '5522' Models
Reply to
Alistair Wright
For open source they do actually use copyright law so that anyone re-using must publish the source code and make available at reasonable expense. Have a look at the trials and tribulations of the JMRI project.
Chris
Reply to
Chris

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