Recreational Boat Building Industry
Note: Patents can be viewed by patent number from the:
U.S. Patent 7,794,295 Marine Drive Michael Beachy Head Follow up patent to U.S. Patent 6,186,845 and 7,588,473, a transom mounted drive that rotates in the plane of the transom to steer. Now known as the Caudwell Marine Axis Drive. The patent does a nice job of citing many stern drive patents, but does not discuss many of them in detail.
U.S. Patent 6,478,646 Drive device of inboard and outboard drives 12 Nov. 2002 Teruhito Fuknoka, Yuji Hashimoto, Kazuyoshi Shinada Assigned to Yanmar Diesel Through hull drive where something similar to a non-trimmable sterndrive mounts on engine bell housing then goes straight down through the hull.
U.S. Patent 6,468,119 Composite stern drive assembly 2 Oct. 2002 Emil Hasl, Matt Wilkins, Chris Savole, Jeff Hardesty, Mark Skrzypek, and Richard Holmberg. Assigned to Volvo Penta Extensive patent (25 pages and 49 claims) on Volvo's new composite stern drive.
U.S. Patent 6,469,641 Marine vessel monitoring system and method Oct. 22, 2002 David and Anthony Lash Assigned to Beacon Marine Monitoring system provides remote access to security and statistical information on unattended boats.
U.S. Patent 6,458,003 Dynamic trim of a marine propulsion system Oct. 1, 2002 William Krueger Assigned to Bombardier Bombardier's version of an autotrim system using some technologies that were available years ago. Interestingly, it allows operators to select what they wish to optimize: speed, fuel efficiency, etc.
U.S. Patent 6,450,845 Passive occupant sensing system for a watercraft Sept. 17, 2002 Richard Snyder and Richard Staerzl Assigned to Brunswick Boating application of auto child seat detection technologies. Since it does not need to detect weight (only presence of driver) an infrared system is used to create a tetherless occupant detector (dead man switch).
U.S. Patent Application 2002/0127928 Propulsion system for motor boat Sept. 12, 2002 Fabio Buzzi Engine actually rides and pivots atop the propeller. Engine points forward and a V-Drive changes direction ot the prop back down under the engine. Mr. Buzzi is a well known European marine designer.
U.S. Patent 6,435,923 August 20, 2002 Two speed transmission with reverse for a watercraft Arthur R. Ferguson Assigned to Bombardier Two stroke transmission with reverse mounts in the gimbal housing area of a stern drive.
U.S. Patent 6,439,937 August 27, 2002 Boat propeller transmission Staffan Mansson and Oddbjorn Hallenstvedt Assigned to Volvo Penta Two speed planetary transmission mounts "in-the-leg" of a stern drive.
U.S. Patent 6,431,927 August 13, 2002 Outboard propeller drive system for watercraft Michael Sage Transom mounted drive with independently adjustable depth of operation and attitude (trim is independent of prop depth) for high speed craft.
U.S. Patent 6,425,788 July 30, 2002 Controllable pitch propeller Jan-Erick Lindholm Assigned to AB R&D Marine OY of Finland Hydraulically shifted propeller for outboards and stern drives.
U.S. Patent 6,406,344 June 18, 2002 Marine exhaust with dual cooling Gerald Bland, James Bellantonio, Gerald Neisen Assigned to Bombardier Stern drive engine pulls water from a through hull pickup and a skeg mounted pickup. May be remains of a patent filed earlier by OMC.
In recent months Brunswick has recieved several patents for control systems. It is very apparent considerable effort was and may still be devoted to applications of this nature.
U.S. Patent 6,200,177 March 13, 2002 Mulit-speed marine propulsion system with improved automatic shifting startegy based soley on engine speed. Phillip Scott and William Stephenson Two speed transmission is shifted based on engine speed AND rate of change of engine speed. U.S. Patent 6,273,771 August 14, 2001 Control system for a marine vessel George Buckley, Vojislav Divijakovic, Phillip Gaynor, Jeffrey Ehlers, and Daniel Clarkson Many input and output devices on a boat communicate with one another. Patent contains an excellent review of prior devices in this area. U.S. Patent 6,377,515 April 23, 2002 Synchronized Sonar Robert Healy (Zebco) Sonars are synchronized to allow them to be used near each other and not interfere with each other. U.S. Patent 6,378,506 April 30, 2002 Control system for an engine supercharging system Suhre Blake and Jeffery Ehlers A bypass control valve is controlled by engine control module as a function of manifold absolute pressure and temperature within an intake in conjunction with barometric pressure. U.S. Patent 6,379,114 April 30, 2002 Method for selecting the pitch of a controllable pitch marine propeller Carl Schott, Blake Suhre and Matthew Manthey Control agorithm selects pitch as a function of difference of desired engine speed and actual speed and actual current pitch of propeller. This patent provides control diagrams, test data and extensive information. U.S. Patent 6,382,122 May 7, 2002 Method for initializing a marine vessel control system Phillip Gaynor, Kurt Willows and John Wyant System automatically determines how many marine propulsion devices are on the vessel and prompts the builder or user to enter various commands to indentify specific devices and components and their association with a specific drive. U.S. Patent 6,390,862 May 21, 2002 Pump jet steering: method during deceleration Charles Eichinger Engine control system slows the engine deceleration according to a preselected protocol or profile to allow more water to pass through the jet pump so low speed steering during deceleration is improved. U.S. Patent 6,393,347 May 21, 2002 Data recording method for a marine propulsion device Richard Snyder, Robert Haddad and Steven Basso System uses three data logs covering different time increments (a short time, intermediate time and a long time). These are essentially airplane black boxes that can be used to determine reason for failure. They state use of them for determining what caused a failure. They might also find application in voiding warranties for when the engine has been abused. U.S. Patent 6,402,577 June 11, 2002 Integrated hydraulic steering system for a marine propulsion unit Kerry Treinen and Darin Uppgard Steering actuator becomes an integral part of support structure for stern drives or outboards. U.S. Patent 6,406,259 June 18, 2002 Method for changing the pitch of a controllable pitch propeller during gear shifting operations Carl Schott Device monitors future or impending gear shift operations, shifts prop to low or zero pitch during shifting, then returns to blades to the original or current setting to reduce prop hub shock loads during shifting. In addition to the patents above, their recent infrared propeller to protect people in the water near propellers discussed further below and on our 2002 Propeller Guard Update page is intended for use in a control system. (U.S. Patent 6,354,892 March 12, 2002)
Brunswick runs afoul of Genmar internet sales promotion patent application.
U.S. Patent Application 2002/0038237 Published March 28, 2002 Mark Duchow System requests information from potential customer, identifies product in stock at a specific reseller and prints a voucher for potential customer including a cash value discount and an expiration date. This method was recently used very sucessfully by Genmar (they obtained a license from Mr. Duchow). When Brunswick announced a similar program, Genmar challenged them based on this patent application.
U.S. Patent 6,368,169 April 9, 2002 Marine engine cooling system with siphon inhibiting device Matthew Jager (MerCruiser). Assigned to Brunswick Floating ball prevents water from siphoning backwards soon after the hot engine is shut off. It also allows draining the system.The patent describes a device (infrared sensor in a tube to limit sensor area) for detecting people near an operating propeller or bow thruster. It sounds alarms, deactivates the propeller or takes other appropriate action when people are in the danger zone. We have indepth coverage on our Propeller Guard Update Page
U.S. Patent 6,361,387 March 26, 2002 Marine propulsion apparatus with dual driveshafts extending from a forward end of an engine. Daniel Clarkson (MerCruiser). Assigned to Brunswick. Engine is mounted in rear of boat with output shaft facing the bow. Power is split to two rearward shafts (one running along each side of engine). Each shaft drives one propeller. Unit acts as a set of twin engines and the single engine can be mounted further rearward to improve center of gravity and provide more usable space near the back of the boat. The patent cites and discusses "Smallcraft Propulsion" by Robert W. Hobbs, pubished in Popular Boating Magazine in 1962. The article details 25 different arrangements of marine propulsion.
U.S. Patent # 6,354,892 Safety device for a marine vessel Richard Staerzl assigned to Brunswick March 12, 2002
U.S. Patent Application # 2002/0023579 Filed 28 February 2002 High speed electric watercraft James Profitt, Joseph Peek, Kayo Motesenbocker, Marvin Motsenbocker High speed electric motor propelled recreational water craft. Body of craft rises above water on outriggers (skis).
U.S. Patent Application # 2002/0017277 February 14, 2002 Four-cycle engine for marine drive Isao Kanno Variable valve timing outboard. Might be Sanshin's (Yamaha's) answer to Honda's VTEC.
Showa received three patents on trim devices in late 2001 and early 2002.
U.S. Patent 6,328,616 December 11, 2001 Trim-tilt device for a marine propulsion unit Tamotsu Nakamura, Omito Toyoshima, Hisao Takayanagi, Keiji Orihara U.S. Patent 6,332,817 December 25, 2001 Trim-tilt device for marine propulsion unit Tamotsu Nakamura U.S. Patent 6,368,168 April 9, 2002 Tilt device for marine propulsion unit Yasuo Funami The first two describe an outboard trim system with the cylinder encased in a reservoir to reduce cylinder rod corrosion. The last one describes trim motor housing construction regarding heating problems.
U.S. Patent 6,350,165 Feb. 26, 2002 Marine stern drive two speed transmission Gerald Neisen Assigned to Bombardier "In the leg" two speed transmission Note: this patent was followed up by U.S. Patent Application 2002/0072279 A1 Published Jun 13, 2002 Marine stern drive two speed transmission Gerald Neisen
U.S. Patent 6,289,853 Sept. 18, 2001 Water Injection System for an internal combustion engine of a marine propulsion system Thomas Walczak and Stephen Riese Assigned to Brunswick Water injection of marine engine using filtered "raw water" RBBI Comment - Water injection is widely used in diesels on large vessels to reduce NOx emissions. It is also used in several high performance recreational marine gasoline engines to help cool the engines (especially supercharged ones) and to increase performance. We suspect this patent may have some validity problems.
Counter rotating surfacing propeller blade design for partially surfacing drive.. See also patent 5,800,223 below.
Skin friction reduction by micro-blowing technique. Use of small air bubbles to reduce hull friction.
Marine propulsion device including counter rotating propeller blade design for partially surfacing drive. Patent details a blade design to allow closer placement of the props. See also patent 5,807,151 above.
Cylinder disabling control system for multi-cylinder engines. Automatic monitoring of engine turns off some cylinders when power requirements are low.
Cover for boat propulsion units. Foam lined case for transportation protection and to reduce theft of items from drive.
Twin propeller marine propulsion unit.
Twin propeller marine propulsion unit. Single prop at low speed, dual prop at high speed.
Propeller drive unit Z drives thru bottom of hull used to regulate trim.
Method and apparatus for reducing drag on a body. Wave like motion (this is the MIT Robo Tuna project).
Surface effect vehicle. Patent has excellent references to other surface effect information.
Propulsion arrangement for marine vehicle. Jet drive that generates trimming forces.
Marine propulsor. Jet drive with gas at top of jet during high speed operation. All water at low speed operation.
Multispeed marine propulsion system with automatic shifting mechanism.
Marine outdrive with surface piercing propeller and stabilizing shroud. Fin structure prevents drive from "walking" boat laterally.
Vertically Adustable Stern Drive for Watercraft. Tilt, trim, lift mechanism maintains trim while raising and lowering the drive.
Tractor podded propulsor for surface ships with a forward mounted propeller resulting in less drag than conventional open shafts and struts.
Propeller drive sleeve with asymmetric shock absorption that provides additional cushion in reverse where the gearing is weaker.
Drain valve for a marine engine that automatically drains the engine when the temperature drops toward freezing.
Shiomi; Kazuyuki Shigedomi; Hideo Fujita; Yasushi Matsuda; Yoshiyuki Soda; Chiharu Kiku; Kazuomi Furuya; Kentaroassignors to Honda
Outboard Engine Assembly. This patent has had some problems because it was originally filed in April of 1993, then a continuation was filed in November of 1994 and it is only now coming through the system. Must have been something in the filing they wanted and the PTO didn't want to give it to them. It shouldn't take even half of 4 years for a Honda patent to go through unless there are complications.
Tranmission for Counter Rotating Propulsion Device
Ski Boat Marine Exhaust System Configuration
Underwater 2-Phase RamJet Engine
Outboard Counter rotating Transmission
Lower unit for main outboard drive. Special shaping and blending of nose cone with a vertical member make a frontal tear drop shape that remains consistent through the trim range and inhibits water boundary layer separation. Note- this patent has 24 claims.
Hydraulic cylinder, especially a trim and tip cylinder for outboard type boat propeller drive units.
Transmission device in an Outboard drive unit for boats
Separating Apparatus for the Cooling System of a Marine Engine
OB Drive Transmission System Transmission for Counter-rotational propeller systems with increased flow area for exhaust discharge behind the transmission.
"Floatation Lined Pontoon Log" They partially line the pontoon "logs" with foam to help reduce leaks and reduce sound transmissions. We have included a partial text copy of this patent.
"Marine Propulsion Arrangement" Somewhat of a cross between a transom mounted outboard and a stern drive.
"Propeller Drive For Boats" This very Interesting patent describes a single surfacing propeller and a method of using a "fin" to prevent the usual "pull to one side" of the surfacing prop.
"Outboard Drive Transmission" A fwd-rev transmission for counter-rotating drives
"Chambered Anti-Coanda Jet Marine Propulsion Device With Gaseous Boundary Layer For A Thrust Jet
Flow Stream Exhibiting Staged Controlled Boundary Layer Separation Properties, Vessel Trim Adjustment,
And Movable Thrust Vector" . Teaches the use of a gas boundary under the hull of a water jet to reduce
friction, control trim, etc.
We actually had a brief chat with Mr. Haynes on 11 November 2008 due to me previously mispelling his name. He is still very active in this field.
Thrust Sensor For Marine Drives. Sensor for prop thrust of single prop and counter rotating prop drives.
Lost Foam Casting Patern Making Method
Brief Introduction to Patents
We encourage you to follow the links in our Patents Segment of the "Other Useful Links" Section and become familiar with the various information available from them. If you are near a Federal Depository Library you can contact them, find out what specific tools their site has, and learn more about the patent system from them. A link to help you find the nearest Federal Depository Library is in the Libraries segment of our Other Useful Links section.
The patent classification system allows searching for similar items. Patents are classified by class subclass. They are also cross referenced to other classes and subclasses they appear to have some relationship to. Three classes of specific interest to the recreational boating industry are Class 114 (Ships), Class 440 (Marine Propulsion) and Class 123 (Internal Combustion Engines). An International Classification System is also used.
If you are an independent inventor thinking about trying to license an idea to a firm in the industry, see our Inventors Page. If you are a firm trying to develop a marine product, as Polson Enterprises we provide assistance in developing new marine technologies.
Patent Legal Battles in the Industry
There was a dispute over Regal's FasTrac hull design. A naval architect, Harry Schoell, claims it infringes on his Duo Delta Conic hull patent. We cover this dispute on our Regal FasTrac Hull Design Controversy Page.
One of the current patent battles that may have just been laid to rest was between an individual (Steven Lough) and Mercury Marine over a brass seal. We have extensive coverage of this case on our Lough v. Mercury Marine Page.
One recent patent battle was the fight between the Mercruiser Dual Propeller Bravo-Three and the Volvo Duo-Prop. This was a very interesting case. The general public had the concept that Volvo had patented the dual counter-rotating propeller concept and owned it, but that concept had actually been in limited use for many years. The areas being contested were some propeller blade design parameters. The actual fight was over patent Volvo #4,741,670, or more properly - over its reissue as Re.#34,011 on 28 July 1992. The details of this case are on the Volvo vs. MerCruiser Page
The case of Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc. 489 U.S. 141 (1989) received a lot of comments in the legal literature. It held that federal patent law preempts Florida statute prohibiting the copying of boat hull designs by using a direct molding process. One of the discussions is in the Iowa Law Review Volume 76 (1991) pages 959-1010. The title of the article is, "Federal Intellectual Property Law and the Economics of Preemption". Basically the Bonito Boat hull was not patented (the court said it provided too slight an advance to be patented) and thus belonged to the public and should be able to be directly copied by the public since it was not patented. The Florida statute had prohibited direct mold copying of any boat hull (as had several other states), the federal court said direct mold copying of non-patented boat hulls by competitors (or anybody else) was legal.
Interesting or Historically Significant Patents
Some interesting patents or patents of historical significance are listed below. We are not providing copies of them on this site. The numbers will help you find the abstracts or full copies through the normal patent information sources.
One of the most historic and colorful patents in the industry is the original stern drive patent by James Wynne (patent # 3,376,842) filed May 11, 1960 and issued April 9, 1968. We have a page devoted to the Invention of the Stern Drive that discusses the colorful beginning of this revolutionary drive.
Some interesting very old patents:
See our Propeller Guard 2002-2003 Update for additional info on prop guard patents and related technologies.
Trademarks and Copyrights have not been playing a major part in the industry to date. One recent Trademark situation was Harley's filing for a trademark on the distinctive sound of their motorcycles.
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