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SkyKing

Another Licensing Rip-off (this time by the US military)

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This letter from Lewis Nace, President of Minicraft Models. appeared in the July 2016 issue of "Beaver Tales," the e-newsletter of IPMS-Canada:

 

“Some months ago we exchanged messages about the threat of licensing demands by the US Military. It is now official that the first of the US military licensing demands have been made, the first being the US Navy.

 

“Last year this topic first came up because a container shipped to a Minicraft customer (MMD) was seized by US Customs because a model kit had a decal representing the seal of the US Coast Guard (it was a Trumpeter container not a Minicraft container). That situation did not affect Minicraft because we do not currently offer a kit with US Coast Guard markings, but the lesson was obvious – the US military branches are by way of US Customs starting to enforce “new” trademark laws. Minicraft will no longer consider marketing any subject that requires reference to the Coast Guard going forward.

 

“However, given the nature of the Minicraft line, I have a minimum of 2 military licenses I must contend with, the US Navy and the US Air Force. In the past we often offered optional markings in kits but that will no longer happen. If we were to include markings for a Navy and an Air Force airplane in the same box we would be subject to licensing both branches of the service. The US Army, US Marine Corp, US Navy, US Air Force, US Coast Guard all have a SEPARATE license all with separate procedures and royalty requirements. We cannot triple our licensing cost.

“If modelers wonder why their selection has narrowed this might help explain it. The cost of licensing? Licensing costs are all pretty similar for Ford, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrup-Grumman, Cessna etc. It looks like the US military licensing fee will be the same and this will effectively double Minicraft licensing costs. EACH licensing authority will need to approve the product and each have their own special requirements all of which adds to the time it takes to develop new product. Many licensing groups are starting to require the use of an “OLP” hologram and we are expecting to have to reserve space on the box to line up the OLP holograms! Manufacturers will have no alternative but to increase the price to the consumer.

“If model enthusiasts are unhappy about the state of the industry invite them to contact their Congressional representatives. Model kit manufacturers now need to wade through licensing agreements, pay royalties and follow accounting requirements and not only pay manufacturers for designs and license holders for ships tanks and airplanes the US military used decades ago, but now also pay each individual branch of the service depending on the decals included in the kit.

 

“Incidentally legal advisors have also recommended removing any reference to crews or pilots because doing so presents the risk of yet another licensing demand. Ever heard the story about the “estate” of Chuck Yeager? His heirs have successfully demanded licensing of any kit bearing his name on the airplane.

 

“Say goodbye to the hobby we once knew.”

Edited by SkyKing

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Just another example of the world taking leave of its senses. It sure encourages the purchase and maintaining of a large stash to avoid paying more in the future!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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This is a sickness. The US has more lawyers than the rest of the world combined. Liability Nation: The biggest conflict-of-interest of them all, is paying these (expletive)s to craft layer-upon-layer of laws and regs and then make money fining & suing each other over them, across every conceivable sector of industry and private life. It's the most expensive and destructive food-fight in history.

 

The over-arching 'precedent', if you will, was that markings appearing on US government hardware were considered 'public domain', e.g. public property: We - the taxpayers - have already paid for this stuff at least once.

 

"I smell a big, fat commie rat!"

 

RANT - OFF.

Edited by VonL

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I smell lots of big Progressive-Commie rats and most of them sit in 435 seats in a big white building with a dome. Rant always on

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Hate to be the wet blanket in the group, but, I take it there are NO licensing agreements with the loosers of WW2

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I smell lots of big Progressive-Commie rats and most of them sit in 435 seats in a big white building with a dome. Rant always on

This is more like greedy capitalism at work. Nothing remotely "progressive" or "communist" about it.

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They could try doing what has been done with the swastika on models- cut the offending symbol into pieces which are meaningless on their own.

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This is more like greedy capitalism at work. Nothing remotely "progressive" or "communist" about it.

 

Sure, 'commie' here was meant more as an all-purpose epithet for 'scumbag'. Point is that this predatory, hyper-regulated lawfare crap works - against - free markets and is a huge cause of inflation in every sector of the economy. The tort/liability & intellectual property victim stuff is way, way over-played - as we see here in hobby-land. And when government bureau-rats want a piece of the action...well...it's amazing how little power it takes to corrupt.

 

Doom on Them (another Vietnam-era reference)

Edited by VonL

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I'm sorry this has hit Minicraft but this is very OLD news. Licensing was first brought up about 10 years ago when people like Lockheed, etc. wanted their money for B-17's, SR-71's etc.

 

If you look at Tamiya kits as an example, they pay the money and raise their prices.

 

Sad, but as said above, capitalism at work plus if you do pay the license fee, you get access to all the available drawings and info so in the end, it might be worth a few bucks a kit

 

Dave

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I don't know if this factoid applies here, but, in a past hobby, there was a claim by a manufacturer that his particular product was copyrighted. Which, he claimed, prohibited anybody else from producing a like or similar product. Somewhat like Tamiya claiming that nobody else could product a Zero kit cause Tamiya make it first.

 

I was involved in discussions with a lawyer, who told us that neither history nor government output (seals, designs, plans) were copyrightable -- since they were history (owned by nobody) or in the common domain. We responded to the claimant, who muttered and threatened and postured and then did absolutely nothing. Thus anybody can make a kit of a Zero with meatballs without reimbursing Japan or Tamiya.

 

So -- can the Coast Guard copyright an image of itself? Which would mean that, if I took a photo of a Coast Guard ship, I would have to pay royalties to display it?

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In theory...if I copyrighted the flag of Japan...cha-ching!!!!

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Isn't the Coast Guard part of Homeland Security, and not the military? Even in the pre-9/11 days, it belong to the Transportation Department and only fell under operational command of the Navy in times of war.

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If the logos and markings are licensed by the military, will Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, etc., have to pay a licensing fee to the appropriate branch of service whenever they complete and paint a new airplane prior to delivery? Perhaps the U.S. Government can recoup the cost of the airplane by charging the manufacturer a super high licensing fee for using proprietary images. :smiley29:

 

Ed

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Fine point, but the Coast Guard was under the Department of the Treasury, not Transportation. Maybe you just mis-spoke or am I wrong?

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Fine point, but the Coast Guard was under the Department of the Treasury, not Transportation. Maybe you just mis-spoke or am I wrong?

You're partly correct. Originally, the Coast Guard was under the Treasury Dept. during peacetime and the Navy Dept. in wartime. In 1967, it was moved from the Treasury Dept. to the newly formed Dept. of Transportation, an arrangement that lasted until it was placed under the Dept. of Homeland Security in 2003. It can still be transferred to the Navy in time of war.

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Minicraft could take a page from the old instruction sheet of bad translations, and label the models "Coastal Guard", or maybe "Coast Guardian". I'd think modelers could get past that, and it would convey the spirit of the original.

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