Revolutionary hull design?

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by rockfold, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. rockfold
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    rockfold New Member

    Hello everybody,

    I’m not a boat builder but am desperate to help an old friend with a project that he’s been developing in his spare time for over 20 years.
    Any response will be greatly appreciated.

    My friend designed a cat with a unique hull shape, which theoretically enabled it to travel through water much faster than any other catamaran of the same length currently on water!

    To test this theory he built two different sized craft (8ft and 16ft) incorporating this hull design and had them tested in a tank as well as on open water.

    He realised that his design worked and considered the commercial potential the design might hold, and subsequently patented the ideas in the UK and USA.

    Having spoken to him it appears that he could really use some help in regard to finding out how watertight his patents are.
    There have been two very similar patent applications blocked since he registered his design.
    One of which was applied for by the Dutch navy, who wanted to build a ship with an almost identical hull shape, but were refused a patent for their design.
    What do you think would be the best way for him to go about this procedure?

    Furthermore, if he found that his patents were secure, what do you suggest his next step ought to be, assuming that he didn’t want to go into production himself? (Due to age, health issues)

    Do you think that approaching successful entrepreneurial boat designers, with a view to a joint development project, might be his best course of action? Providing he armed himself with some type of non-compete document, to protect his ideas.

    Many thanks in advance,
    Jerome Thomas
     
  2. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    The problem with a patent is that you never know "if it is secure". Your friend needs to try to make a deal with a company that can produce the patented design in enough volume that your friend will make enough to defend it. And/or include defense of the patent in the original agreement. The faster you get moving the better. The non-disclosure agreements are a good idea but unless your friend has a history of successfull development he may run into resistance in getting a company to sign such a document.
    Don't waste ANY time trying to find out how secure the patent(s) are-you'll find out soon enough and getting the thing to start generating money is the best defense strategy. Good Luck!
     
  3. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    If it is so wonderful, which i doubt (there is no magic to hull design), then approaching a boat designer is the wrong course. Approach an independent test facility to independently verify the claims. Once this is done, then you can decide. But to patent a hull shape is next to impossible. But has been done and oddly enough with good effect.
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCAFC/2008/121.html
    But is really stretching a silly point as it stifles creativity and innovation....and to patent a shape requires very exact definitions, which certainly was not the case in the Stena v Austal

    "On the question of clarity, it was argued that the terms “substantial portion” and “narrow waisted”, appearing in claim 1, were sufficiently imprecise as to render the claims lacking in clarity. Having regard to the nature of the invention the claims sought to define, and the evidence of experts led by the parties the Court concluded that the claims were clear, concluding, with reference to Martin v Scribal Pty Ltd (1954) 92 CLR 17, that:....Austal’s argument fails to take account of the fact that, as in Martin, Stena’s invention involved an idea which “involves a matter of degree and for that reason any distinction that is precise must be but an arbitrary restriction on the inherent variability of the feature…..There is no requirement of patent law that subsequent claims narrow the scope of earlier claims, even though, as a matter of practice, this is often the case.”
     
  4. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    I suggest he contact a patent attorney. He will need help writing contracts that protect his interests. An option is to license use of his design to other designers, builders and the Dutch Navy.
     
  5. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The only true security any patent or copyright protect can afford is the ability of the owner to defend it. If your "friend" doesn't have the resources to successfully defend interlopers, then the best course of action is to sell the rights to someone who can.
     
  6. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    If its a really good idea: Just sell lots of boats, make lots of money.
     
  7. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    you say he DID get a patent? then by all means TELL US

    which patent it is.

    No need to be coy.

    Japan, EU, etc all have cross agreements with US patents, more or less.

    Japan has only "real patents" and US Patent office hands them out to anyone who fills out their forms and pays them, and lets the courts figure out if the patent is worth anything.

    However, if he has a patent it is public, so no need to play coy.
     
  8. TTS
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    TTS Senior Member

    That what going to be my reply. I would look at the two blocked patent applications and approach one or both about selling or liscensing the patent for their use. In addition, I would then look for others.
     
  9. Jimboat
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    Jimboat Senior Member

    i agree with PAR....a patent is only good to you if you have the time and resources to defend it. often, the patent only provides an easier opportunity for copies to be made. once your hull is in production and making commercial hulls, your branding/name is your best defense - true quality buyers want the real thing.
     
  10. yipster
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    yipster designer

    that sounds really most promising, i'd would make a deal
     
  11. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    I can just answer about the patent. I have one, it took me a large amount of patience and money. I dealt with non qualified peoples who patent almost everything under the roof.
    Now I have my freaking patent certificate on the wall, just to remind me how pretentious I was.
    During this painfully bank breaking episode I had the opportunity to go thru thousand patents on hull. It is sad to see all these inventions (including mine) just be unknown, obsolete.
    Some tryed to patent the tumblehome of a motorboat, or the Down East style, or the portholes just to corner the market. Bankers who bought a boatbuilding company. Who else!
    A good idea (Hunt never patented his hull) will make good by itself, and the money will follow. If somebody copy it is the highest form of recognition.
    Cheers
    Daniel
     
  12. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    "...If somebody copy it is the highest form of recognition..."
    Absolutely!
    Imitation is the greatest complement one can have as a designer.

    If authors all took the same position...patent it patent it, just to try and make some money from something they think can make money..there would be no books! Patents are purely for those wanting money and money alone not recognition from their peers.

    Everything is plagiarism...in one form or another.
     
  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    It's only complimentary if the stuff copied isn't your own. Once you have your own ideas incorporated into other peoples profit margins, your perspective changes considerably.
     
  14. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    PAR

    I think it perhaps also depends upon which 'market' one is in too. In the pleasure/luxury marker, perhaps your statement holds more water. But in my field, commercial, not at all. Hence my statement...also see my previous posting about infringement of a patent by Austal Ships.

    There is a whole lot more to a design than a shape/curve/hull/interior etc etc...in small boats and pleasure market perhaps everyone is more guarded and insecure about their designs or what constitutes a 'design', I dunno?

    But in the commercial field I am in, plagiarism occurs daily....part of the job.

    The chief designer of one of the yards i worked at over 15 years ago summed it up nicely he said:
    "..it is only a secret until your boat hits the water and is delivered..once out running between harbours, it is fair game for all to see".
     

  15. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Agreed, it's a common occurrence, but it doesn't make it feel any better if it's your work, unless you happen to become known for the "Ad Hoc" type tiller extension and was bright enough to have marketed your name. Maybe we'll all become good enough sailors to have a bit of rigging innovation named after us, even if we don't get royalties. How about the "PAR Headed Jib" and I'll get back to work on my scalloped luff retro fit idea.
     
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