Archive for November 2012

Our Boat Intelligent Warning System (BIWS) invention disclosure below was posted on 29 November 2012. We will make no changes to the text below the line following this paragraph except to correct misspellings, punctuation, and to update html/computer codes and links. Any updates to the invention will be posted below the invention disclosure.

Boat Intelligent Warning System

Warning Decal Strip at 2012 Bayliner Helm

Warning Decal Strip at 2012 Bayliner Helm

This invention has to do with displaying warnings based on the actual situations and conditions the boat is encountering or anticipated to encounter soon.

Background Information

The effectiveness of conventional warning decals and placards on boats is reduced by: (1) The shear number of warnings displayed on the boat, (2) repetitive exposure to the same warnings, (3) some warnings fail to draw attention to themselves and thus are not read, (4) warnings are often not up front and prominent just before an action needs to be taken.

One method to minimize these difficulties is to display only those warnings relevant to the current situation. A reduction in the total number of warnings being repetitively constantly displayed at the same time reduces “warning noise” and results in more attention being focused on the most relevant warning(s) at that time.

The invention consists of four components or subsystems:

  • The display – where the warnings are shown
  • The sensors or gauges – many of them are already on the boat
  • The network – several boats already run CANbus systems
  • The software or logic system used to select which warning(s) to display
  • The computer / the brains – a computer system the software runs on, stores the warnings, reads the inputs (sensors), uses the software to decide which warning(s) to display, and issues the command to display specific warning(s).

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The boating industry promotes one standard for testing propeller guards in court cases or when evaluating propeller guards proposed by those outside the boating industry, and a different standard when their own propeller guards are being tested.

They want to test your guards trimmed full under at speed with the same propeller used on the boat in the unguarded condition, but they want to test their guards at optimal trim with a reduced pitch propeller.

Test Your Guards Trimmed Full Under

In a typical propeller guard court case, the prosecution presents an exemplar propeller guard, a propeller guard they say would have prevented the accident or lessened/mitigated the victim’s injuries. The industry then tests that guard, sometimes called litigation testing. During those tests, the industry typically tests the performance of the boat with and without guard (acceleration, top speed and handling issues) with the drive trimmed all the way down. Even without a guard, several boats have handling issues with the drive trimmed full under at speed, plus they use a lot more fuel as they plow through the water. The prop tries to push the bow of the boat down, resulting in bow steering issues (harder to steer, may dart to one side or the other on its own, high steering torques, etc.). Ring type and cylindrical ring type propeller guards create loads on the drive/boat as they try to orient themselves to be parallel to the oncoming water. As a result, some ring and concentric ring propeller guards may create bow steering issues when trimmed full under at higher speeds. Read More→

A case currently before U.S. District Court in Seattle may have bearing on the licensing of propeller guards and other propeller safety technologies.

In the past, some have said that swim ladder switches such at Keith Jackson / MariTech’s Prop Stopper could not be included in any USCG propeller safety regulation because they are a proprietary, patented design.

Boat Propeller Proximity to the Swim Ladder

Boat Propeller Proximity to the Swim Ladder

We have previously explained that when a company agrees to allow its patented products to be included in an industry standard, it must license others in the the industry so they too can meet the new industry standard, AND that license must be at a reasonable rate. Legal types refer to these reasonable patent license terms as RAND (Reasonable AND Non Discriminatory) or as FRAND (Fair, Reasonable AND Non Discriminatory).

The Federal Government retains the right to step in and reset those terms if the licensor tries to gouge the other participants.

We have also relatively recently written of the Australian Environmental Safety Propeller and its effort to sign a licensing agreement with a manufacturer. As part of that discussion we mentioned how that discussion might proceed. We noted that mechanical devices often license somewhere in the range of 4 to 7 percent of sales. Another method is to request something in the range of 25 percent of the profits.

In the case of the Australian Safety Propeller, the propeller guys would probably begin by asking for something in the range of 4 to 7 percent of the sales of a marine drive PLUS the Propeller (4 to 7 percent of a lot of money) while the manufacturer would probably be thinking of something in the range of 4 to 7 percent of the propeller only. After they talk it out quite a while, they would probably settle somewhere in the middle.

Yamaha recently released a propeller guard in Europe they claim meets all their expectations. If such a guard were to be accepted as an industry standard, it would face licensing issues similar to those faced by the swim ladder switch and the Safety Propeller.

Reference: Pivotal Patent Case Heads to Court: Microsoft, Motorola Mobility Face Off Over Paying for Technology That is Part of an Industry Standard. Wall Street Journal. November 12, 2012. Page. B4.

A very interesting case is coming to court in Seattle the week of November 12, 2012 that addresses both the points raised above:

  • What is a reasonable rate / royalty percentage?
  • Should that rate be paid on the value of the technology itself (like on the Safety Propeller) OR should that royalty be paid on the value of the device that uses the technology (marine drive plus propeller)?

Read More→

0 Categories : Regulations

Yamaha UK Pro Outboard

Yamaha UK Pro Outboard with Yamaha propeller guard

Yamaha erased everything ever written about their Yamaha UK Pro Flood Rescue Outboard stainless steel propeller guards from their website. We first noticed it was all gone on November 8, 2012.

Last month (October 2012) we wrote three stories on Yamaha’s new stainless steel propeller guard for their rescue outboards:

In those posts, Yamaha themselves said their new stainless steel propeller guard:

  • Is essential when operating in flooded environments because of the likelihood of swimmers being in the water
  • Provides the needed strength
  • Causes minimal drag allowing the outboard to give maximum performance when needed
  • Assists in keeping foreign objects from fouling the propeller
  • Makes the boat more maneuverable by better directing the flow
  • Can increase thrust at low rpm

Its interesting that the boating industry rejects using propeller guards on recreational boats for the same reasons Yamaha uses this one on their flood rescue outboards. The boating industry often says propeller guards are dangerous to people in the water, are not strong enough, foul in debris, create handling/maneuvering problems, and increase drag (and fuel consumption). Somehow either (1) Yamaha’s new guard is the first guard to ever solve those problems, or (2) the Yamaha rescue outboard application is magically different than the same outboard on a recreational boat, or (3) the rest of the industry and Yamaha disagree on the performance of this guard, or (4) propeller guards have really worked all along. Read More→

2 Categories : Legal Shorts

Many have accused the boating industry of suppressing the development and deployment of propeller guards and other propeller safety devices.

A list of ways in which the boating industry has been accused of suppressing propeller guard inventions, technologies and other propeller safety technologies is provided below. They are grouped by events or topics and partially organized by timeline.

Please Note

We try to keep the Propeller Guard Information Center / fair and objective on propeller safety issues. However, as is often the case in discussing the suppression of other technologies, this list includes several unproven accusations and claims made by others. We are not saying we believe every single one of these points or that every one of them is true. Several of these points are based on circumstantial or hearsay evidence. You will need to make your own judgement call as to the truthfulness of these statements.

Many of these accusations have been made previously. Those with experience in this field may harbor emotional feelings for or against several of the points made here. To our knowledge this is the first large scale collection of these claims.

For those who feel many of the points made here are untrue, we remind you that for the boating industry to have suppressed propeller safety inventions and technologies ONLY 1 of these over 140 points needs to be true. For the industry to have willfully suppressed propeller guard and other propeller safety technologies you will need to decide how many of them are true and if in your opinion those particular points create the preponderance of evidence necessary to indicate willful intent. Read More→

1 Categories : Legal Shorts