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Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 145

Yep. Turns out NASA doesn't get to say "oops" as often as SpaceX does, which makes things more expensive.

NASA does a lot of stuff which makes things more expensive. In addition to their skewed risk perception, they also reuse the Space Shuttle lineage despite no compelling reason to do so (particularly, the solid rocket motors which generate a variety of costs and risks), employ cost plus contracts (which should be the exclusive realm of gouging law firms), and make some of the worst economic decisions in the federal government.

Comment Re:Where's the news? (Score 4, Informative) 210

Seriously though, how can a golf ball have 11 patents on it?

Read Costco's reply to the court, in which each patent is listed along with Acushnet's claims and Costco's rebuttal. You can look the patents up online at the USPTO web site. Let's look at a few, shall we?

Patent# 6,994,638 - Golf balls comprising highly-neutralized acid polymers.
Abstract
A golf ball comprising a core comprised of a polymer containing an acid group fully-neutralized by an organic acid or a salt, a cation source, or a suitable base thereof, the core having a first Shore D hardness, a compression of no greater than about 90, and a diameter of between about 1.00 inches and about 1.64 inches; and a cover layer comprising ionomeric copolymers and terpolymers, ionomer precursors, thermoplastics, thermoplastic elastomers, polybutadiene rubber, balata, grafted metallocene-catalyzed polymers, non-grafted metallocene-catalyzed polymers, single-site polymers, high-crystalline acid polymers and their ionomers, or cationic ionomers.

What is claimed is:

1. A golf ball comprising: a core comprising a center and an outer core layer, the center comprising a thermoset polybutadiene rubber composition having a first hardness; and the outer core layer comprising a polymer comprised of an acid group fully-neutralized by an organic acid or a salt of the organic acid, and a cation source or a suitable base of the cation source; and having a second hardness; and an inner cover layer and an outer cover layer comprising ionomeric copolymers and terpolymers, ionomer precursors, thermoplastics, thermoplastic elastomers, polybutadiene rubber, balata, grafted metallocene-catalyzed polymers, non-grafted metallocene-catalyzed polymers, single-site polymers, high-crystalline acid polymers and their ionomers, polyurethnnes, polyureas, polyurethane-ureas; polyurea-urethanes; or cationic ionomers; wherein the first hardness is from about 50 Shore A to about 55 Shore D and first hardness is less than the second Shore D hardness by at least about 10 points.

Here's Costco's rebuttal:

11. Costco is not infringing any valid claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,994,638 (“the ’638patent”). Acushnet has accused Costco of infringing claim 1 of the 638 patent. Costco’s sales of the KS golf ball do not constitute infringement of claim 1 of the 638 patent, however, because, among other things, the Shore D hardness of the center core of the KS ball is not “at least about 10 points” less than the Shore D hardness of the outer core.
12. The 638 patent is invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102, 103 and/or 112. The claims are invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102 and/or 103, for example, in light of U.S. Patent No. 6,468,169 and other prior art publications and activities

Clearly, a lot of chemistry work went into this patent to make the balls have a certain elasticity. Costco says that their balls do not have the same properties, therefore they did not infringe upon this claim.

Here's another:

Patent# 8,123,632 - Multi-layer golf ball
Abstract
Golf balls consisting of a dual core and a dual cover are disclosed. The dual core consists of an inner core layer formed from a rubber composition and an outer core layer formed from a highly neutralized polymer composition.

Here's the claim in question:

"17. A golf ball consisting essentially of: an inner core layer formed from a rubber composition and having a diameter of from 1.100 inches to 1.400 inches, a center hardness (H.sub.center) of 50 Shore C or greater, and an outer surface hardness of 65 Shore C or greater; an outer core layer formed from a highly neutralized polymer composition and having an outer surface hardness (H.sub.outer core) of 75 Shore C or greater; an inner cover layer formed from a thermoplastic composition and having a material hardness (H.sub.inner cover) of from 80 Shore C to 95 Shore C; and an outer cover layer formed from a composition selected from the group consisting of polyurethanes, polyureas, and copolymers and blends thereof. "

While a multi-layer golf ball is nothing new, this patent builds on an older patent for a multi-layer ball. Acushnet claims this is a new innovation that Costco violated. Costco claims otherwise:

15. Costco is not infringing any valid claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,123,632 (“the ’632 patent”). Acushnet has accused Costco of infringing claim 17 of the ’632 patent. Costco’s sales of the KS ball do not constitute infringement of claim 17, however, because, at the least, the surface hardness of the outer core of the KS ball is not 75 Shore C or greater.
16. The 632 patent is invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102, 103 and/or 112. The claims are invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102 and/or 103, for example, in light of U.S. Publication No. 2007/0281802 and other prior art publications and activities.

So Costco again says that because their balls don't have the same properties, they aren't violating this patent. This is all pretty standard legal wrangling.

Comment Re:Where's the news? (Score 1) 210

Just another reason to SHORTEN the length of patents for none drug inventions. There is NO reason on earth that a patent on a golf ball needs to be 20 years

Why not? Is the research into the aerodynamic characteristics of a golf ball more or less worthy than the research into the hydrodynamic characteristics of a blood vessel stent? For that matter, someone who keeps active as a golfer is likely to be healthier longer than someone who is sedentary and requires drugs and other medical interventions to live. Certainly you'd agree that the sporting goods companies have done more good for public health than Martin Shkreli ever did as CEO of a drug company.

Research is research, and the law says that inventors can profit from their inventions. I'm sorry you don't like that.

Comment Re:Distance to terminals (Score 1) 246

The distance issue is addressed by placing the terminals in the centre of the circle. That's really not a big issue.
The bigger issues are surrounding the curvature and banking.

And as you point out in your last sentence, the n-gon arrangements have all the advantages, with none of the disadvantages, and you don't really have to go that far. many airports already use triangular layouts, and that's really "good enough" to account for wind direction from anywhere, the only advantage to going to more than 3 runways would be to increase capacity (3 runways guarantees one usable at a time, with up to 3 depending on wind, 6 would guarantee 2, but may still max out at 3 as half the runways may be too close to the angles of the other half)

Comment Re:Rotating Airport (Score 1) 246

This is already solved by many airports having a triangular runway pattern. This gives planes 6 different directions they can land, or take off, which pretty much guarantees that one of them will be "close enough" to pointing in to the wind.

Basically the triangular runway pattern solves almost all the same problems as the circular runway, while having none of the disadvantages.

Comment Re:Completely unfeasible (Score 1) 246

Exactly.

Triangular runway formats have been around forever, they have almost all the advantages of the circular runway, with none of the disadvantages.

The one point that is made that does make a lot of sense though is putting the terminal in the middle of the triangle, something rarely done. You could have the access roads at the points of the triangle, or as tunnels (not impossible, many runways have tunnels under them already)

Done right, it would decrease the average distance planes need to taxi (saving time), while requiring less land overall.

Comment Re:Patent Expiry Question (Score 1) 210

Except that after 19 years the company re-files the same patent with a minor tweak, and because nobody examines patents it will be approved.

Do you really think that there is anything that is still patentable about a golf ball that wouldn't be easy to work around if you wanted to? Golf balls have been around forever, and patents are time limited. If you create your golf balls based on how they were made over 20 years ago there's no way you could be infringing a valid patent (any patent you are found to be violating would be invalid due to prior art)

Thing is, there's nothing to stop a big company from suing you anyway, you'd just have to prove it all in court, and hey, everyone can afford that right?

Comment Re:Leading National Brand (Score 1) 210

While you're mostly right, it's not quite that straightforward.

"leading brands" doesn't necessarily mean any specific one, but it wouldn't mean a brand nobody has ever heard of, it would have to be one of the top ones, but not necessarily "the" top one, and it can be "top" by various different metrics (they didn't specify) so it could be be top by sales volume, or profit, or most used by professionals, or by amateurs, most well recognized brand, or any of a number of other qualifications.

Additionally "better" is also subjective, and while you'd have to prove it's better, that doesn't mean better in all ways. only that it isn't worse in all ways. so it could fly straighter, or further, but it could simply be more aesthetically pleasing, or better value for money, or that some blind test had a group of golfers chose it.

So while these terms are mostly meaningless, they aren't completely meaningless. Basically if you weren't stupid in how you used them, it would be easy enough to prove you're ok. But if your product really is the worst on the market in all categories you could still be in trouble for saying it's "better than the leading national brand" (though any one specific brand may not have standing to sue as they can't prove you meant them, but it could still fall afoul of false advertising laws and a consumer group could)

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