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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 10 December 2001

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


From: PatentHolder
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Patent infringement

You commented: "Perhaps some patent attorney could enlighten us -- but
it's my understanding (mistaken as it might be) that there's little to
stop an individual from building a patented device for his/her own use --
it's just illegal to manufacture for others or to exploit for profit."

IANAL - And I'm certainly not a patent attorney -- but I have some
experience with patent licensing.  The licence agreements typically grant
a licence to "make, use or sell" things that depend upon the patent.  My
understanding is therefore that your remark is not accurate.

Aardvark responds: Yes, the writer appears to be correct.  I checked the
patent FAQ on this site. and it says:
"A U.S. patent is essentially a right which the government grants to the
inventor permitting him "to exclude others from making, using, or selling
the invention" within the U.S., its territories and possessions."

So, if an open source Segway project is started by someone, it will almost
certainly be liable to be sued by Kamen's company.  Of course ripping CDs
and posting them to the Net is also illegal -- but that doesn't stop everyone
does it? ;-0

From: grant
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Open Source Segway

Open source can be applied to a lot of activity including
hardware but the thing that amuses me is why should anyone
emulate the 00' equivalent of the Sinclair CV5?

It seems to be that the gyroscopes, smart software and
fast/torquey motors simply work to give stability to an
unstable configuration.  Why not just ride a pushbike 
cheap (less than NZ$1K), unlimited range (given
time/effort), high top speed, lots of supporting
infrastructure and of course zero pollution.

You can even bolt on an electric motor (from Sinclair!) or
for something a bit flasher: http://www.apriliaenjoy.com/

From: Paul Kennett
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Segway vs bicycle

In what way is the Segway better than a humble bicycle?

From: dwayne
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: segway

I can't see any reason why you couldn't sell your own
segway copy. You can't patent a concept, so as long as you
didn't reverse engineer the original and copy the exact
configuration then no big deal - although you might have to
reverse engineer it to check you didn't copy anything by

If you improve on it, its your own idea to patent unless
you want to go for "open-source". Generally you would
patent some critical design feature and sell that to other
designers to base their own designs on, but it would have
to be a key microchip or something hard to copy that still
adds value and saves design/manufacturing cost.

From: Chris
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Bring on the Bicycle!

If as much money had been spent on improving the bicycle as coming up with
that segway thing, we'd have a far better means of transport than either.
The bicycle has unlimited range, is more enviromentally friendly than even
electric power( unless it's solar powered) and it's actually healthy for
the user. The only problem is it isn't much fun riding in the middle of
winter, in the middle of summer, or in the pouring rain, and the average
person will probably find they don't have enough stamina to get as far as
they'd like. The Segway doesn't really solve any of these problems apart
from perhaps stamina, but then you've still got to find somewhere to plug
it in at the end of it's not very impressive range. Someone else has
already posted a link to an enhanced bicycle, however it's still less
aerodynamic than a brick. There have been plenty of efforts at making
aerodynamic human powered vehicles that actually allow an average rider to
be able to achieve a good speed without undue exertion, and what with
modern materials technology, and electrical augmentation, it should be
possible to build something relatively cheap that can go anywhere. Take
the electrically enhanced bike someone posted here, put it in a
lightweight aerodynamic shell, lower the profil a bit, and mount some
solar panels on it, and you'd have something that would probably still
sell for less than the Segway and go a lot further a lot faster. With a
bit of ingenuity, hey you could even use some of the electrical energy to
provide some cabin cooling/heating as required. After all if you can get a
vehicle accross Australia on solar power alone, if you add pedal power
into the equation as well, you've got loads of energy to play with. I'd be
driving/riding something like this now, if I had the money to develop it
or afford to buy one if there was something already on the market, but a
motorised  scooter? No thanks, my feet work just fine!

From: Don
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Patent infringement

    I am a member of an inventors forum and recently one of
members, the host of a U.S. fishing show, asked if it would
be okay to build a simple patented device on his show
without the consent of the inventor. The advice from the
patent attorneys was that he would be infringing on the
person's patent and could be sued, because a patent gives
the inventor the sole right to manufacture the invention
desribed in the claims.

Now Have Your Say

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