Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
ideas, ownership, skydive, space, spacedive

Companies:
red bull



Red Bull Cancels Stunt Dive From Space... Because Someone Sued Then Claiming It Was His Idea

from the ownership-of-ideas dept

Reader Marak was the first of a bunch of you to send in the news of Red Bull cancelling a super high altitude skydive (an attempt to break the famous record of Joe Kittinger) because of a lawsuit filed back in April by a guy claiming he had the idea first, and that he shared the details with Red Bull, but has now been cut out of the project. If anyone has the actual filing in the case, I'd like to see it, because you can't actually own "ideas," so I'm curious what he's specifically suing over. There are a few possibilities, but all of them seem like a stretch. Just because someone tells you an idea, there's no requirement you work with them, credit them or pay them in most cases. In fact, the reporting on what happened between Red Bull and the guy notes that after talking for a while, Red Bull sent him an email that stated: "after a very detailed investigation of your proposal, we finally came to the conclusion that we would not like to continue our joint work on the space Dive project." That doesn't say they won't proceed on their own, however...

Once again, though, this does seem symptomatic of the general belief these days that it's possible to own "ideas," and that if you have an idea, then you can stop others from either having the same idea separately, or from actually implementing your idea. It's what happens when you build up a culture falsely led to believe that ideas are scarce resources like property.

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  • icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 7:21am

    Been there, done that

    Was this guy by chance the guy who owns the Gene Roddenberry estate? Or was it one of the writers for Generations, or that episode of Voyager where B'Elanna had her turn at an emotional breakdown?

    The concept of orbital skydiving is kinda old at this point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      MrWilson, 13 Oct 2010 @ 12:10pm

      Re: Been there, done that

      Or going back further, the beginning of the Robert Heinlein novel Starship Troopers describes an orbital skydive by soldiers invading an alien planet. So the "prior art" dates back to at least 1959.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2010 @ 7:29am

    Correction

    The guy suing Red Bull shopped the idea around to several places as a means of advertisement. Red Bull supposedly was using his implementation of the idea after turning him away. So this is actually a valid case (his plan would count as a trade secret) just poorly reported largely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      RD, 13 Oct 2010 @ 7:38am

      Re: Correction

      "So this is actually a valid case (his plan would count as a trade secret) just poorly reported largely."

      Bull, this is not a valid case, unless he got them to sign some kind of contract or NDA about it. Just because you "shop around" an idea doesn't mean no one else can use it, unless you take steps to protect your interaction with them. If he didn't, then boo-hoo too bad for him. Don't like it? Don't share just ideas then, be smarter about how you go about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 7:46am

      Re: Correction

      What is 'his implementation of the idea?' Adding advertising to an orbital jump?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Casper, 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:01am

      Re: Correction

      A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable

      That is so far from the idea of a trade secret it isn't even funny. An idea is not a secret stratagem that they can then never use. It is an idea. If at some point he provided technical data that made it logistically possible, and they stole that information and did it without him, it's a different matter.

      Unless this guy had a business based around specific secrets of accomplishing an orbital jump that Redbull used, he has no case here. This is no different than my business proposing an idea for a project to a client and the client deciding to try to make it on their own. Just because I proposed the idea of the project to them, doesn't mean I own the idea of them ever doing said project, I simply own all the proprietary methods, technology, and formulas I might have applied in my own implementation of the project. If I provided specific break downs of functionality or methodology that was completely unique to the specific project and they used it, then I might have a slight case. The broader concept of the project is just an idea that anyone could have thought up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        protectideas (profile), 22 May 2014 @ 5:42am

        Re: Re: Correction

        Are you an attorney? And can you explain what you suggested: "If I provided specific break downs of functionality or methodology that was completely unique to the specific project and they used it, then I might have a slight case. " I would think this case could be seen as a consultant fee as well. I personally have a few ideas that companies could benefit how can I protect it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    cc (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 7:53am

    http://www.thetechherald.com/article.php/201041/6282/Lawsuit-scuppers-attempt-to-break-sound-barrier -in-stratosphere-free-fall

    "According to the legal filing, Red Bull is guilty of defrauding Mr. Hogan by illegally drawing from his technical ideas regarding the project and of using his original plans to create publicity and marketing around a similar stunt."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bishboria (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      "illegally drawing from his technical ideas": So did associates of Red Bull break into his house and take his ideas?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      "According to the legal filing, Red Bull is guilty of defrauding Mr. Hogan by illegally drawing from his technical ideas regarding the project and of using his original plans to create publicity and marketing around a similar stunt."

      If that is the case then he might win, however, what is stated in a legal filing is simply how the plaintiff perceives the matter, not legal fact.

      As it was pointed out before, this guy has very little claim to anything about the idea or technology required unless he designed special formulas or equipment to make it possible. Unless he passed out full project overviews containing novel methodology that they were using to achieve the jump, he might as well just settle for something and let the jump happen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:44am

        Re: Re:

        1) Purchase skydiving gear
        2) Hitch a ride on a spacecraft
        3) Force door open on spacecraft before being subdued by vastly more-intelligent people
        4) Jump out
        5) Do not pass out (see appendix A for breathing exercises)
        6) Avoid mid-air collision with airliner
        7) Pull parachute cord
        8) Steer parachute around power lines and moving objects
        9) Land
        10) Seek medical assistance

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Murdock (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:01am

    It hasn't be canceled...

    Just put on hold, big difference.

    "Red Bull has acted appropriately in its prior dealings with Mr. Hogan, and will demonstrate this as the case progresses. Due to the lawsuit, we have decided to stop the project until this case has been resolved."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David Johnson (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:09am

    WSJ

    "The lawsuit alleges that Red Bull defrauded Mr. [Daniel] Hogan not only by illegally using his technical ideas, but by adopting his original plans to generate publicity and create a marketing buzz. "This was my idea, from start to finish," Mr. Hogan told The Wall Street Journal. The goal from the start, he said, was "how to make the most of this awesome event" from a marketing standpoint." (WSJ source).

    The filing will cost you $11 or so after the search and the download as it's behind the CA Superior Court's paywall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:11am

    So how are they going to do this ???

    Loft the guy on a couple giant weather ballons and then have him fall to earth like the camera in the techdirt article the other day?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:39am

    Keep Trying Till You Win

    Business methods and patents were thought to be unpalatable, but then it magically happened!!! Keep suing and some clueless judge may actually allow patenting an idea. Given today's so-called intellectual property absurdities, what is one more?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:49am

    No such thing as a new idea

    This was the subject of a Star Trek Voyager episode some 10 or so years ago, sub-orbital free-fall sky diving. So I have to ask, where did the writer of that episode get the idea? :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 9:07am

      Re: No such thing as a new idea

      I think they got the idea from project excelsior which was in the late 50's early 60's. The highest jump the guy did was from 102,800 ft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bruce Ediger (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 9:27am

      Re: No such thing as a new idea

      I'll bite: from the US Air Force's late '50s "Project Excelsior" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Excelsior).

      Project Excelsior was all over "space travel" books when I was a kid in the mid to late '60s, and it seems a very prosaic, unimaginative, perhaps even crude test of a parachute system developed to allow high-altitude jet pilots to eject safely.

      In short, an obvious, non-unique idea, which occurred to many people many times over the years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    R. Miles (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 9:18am

    Damn Seinfeld.

    See what this TV show did. It's the whole "Kramer's idea of the perfume smelling like the beach and suing for it when he was cut out but saw the product on store shelves" all over again.

    Pull the ripcord.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    thoughtful, 13 Oct 2010 @ 9:57am

    integrity

    The guy had an idea for tying together an extreme stunt and Redbulls desire to be associated with that sort of thing. It might not be illegal for them to steal his concept if he didnt have a non disclosure agreement... but it is ethically wrong. They should give him something if they intend to use the idea which they received, entirely, from him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eric, 13 Oct 2010 @ 11:18am

    Owning ideas

    because you can't actually own "ideas,"

    Once again, though, this does seem symptomatic of the general belief these days that it's possible to own "ideas," and that if you have an idea, then you can stop others from either having the same idea separately, or from actually implementing your idea.


    Not that this could possibly apply to Mr. Hogan's claim, but do not patents, in fact, give you ownership of ideas, albeit very specific ones? Granted, you can't patent the general idea of "making a power cord that solves the problem of computers falling when people trip," (it wouldn't pass the non-obvious test) but I thought you could patent the ideas behind specific implementations of the general idea...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BearGriz72 (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 4:51pm

      Re: Owning ideas

      "but I thought you could patent the ideas behind specific implementations of the general idea"[emphasis added]

      The Keyword here is implementation, to use the example of "making a power cord that solves the problem of computers falling when people trip" I can think of 5 ways to do that off the top of my head, at least 3 of those methods are actually in use today (and possibly patented). If I wanted to I could take the time to research the other designs and patent them (presuming they have not been patented by somebody else already). What I could NOT however legitimately patent the idea itself (even though may patents today are so ridiculously broad as to come close to that).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mojo, 13 Oct 2010 @ 11:38am

    Whether or not this guy has a case, if *I* outlined a marketing stunt for Red Bull and they decided to go ahead with the plan but cut me out, I'd be pissed enough to try and sue them for whatever I could.

    Wouldn't you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Phillip, 13 Oct 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Just an idea?

    The summary claims he is suing over his idea being stolen, but in the article itself it lists:
    * negotiating the construction of the craft with Lindstrand Technologies
    * negotiating with Zvezda for construction of the suit
    * contracting a former NASA flight surgeon
    * providing a list of potential corporate sponsors

    Not only that but he has written evidence from the project termination letter that it was a joint project.

    Not worth the silly sums he is claiming, but it sounds like he has a good case of breach of contract.

    Phillip.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill Jenkins, 13 Oct 2010 @ 6:29pm

    That dufus could win his case against Red Bull.

    Civil cases require only a simple majority and let's face it: most people are stupid.

    It has to be settled higher up in the courts and it will.

    I don't know if I fully buy Red Bull's explanation. Seems like a cop out way to go out rather than saying "Project cancelled".

    I would think the greedy ambulance cashers pouncing on Red Bull's "irresponsibility" after the diver is killed would be worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Marak (profile), 18 Oct 2010 @ 8:50pm

    damnit i finally get a story in first and mentioned, and i get too busy at work to read it for a few days :P

    And this is a crock, as has been shown, its not exactly a unique idea!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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