Flickering Candles in the Haunted Mansion

Discussion in 'The DIS Unplugged Podcast' started by jcb, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. jcb

    jcb always emerging from hibernation

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    The court of appeals that decides patent cases issued an interesting (for patent nerds, at least) decision addressing (to a degree) the validity of a patent Disney holds on how it made the electric candles flicker in the Haunted Mansion.

    Without going into boring details, the court held that the first patent seemed to "anticipate" the latter patent (which provided, so I understand it) the basis for an infringement claim by Disney's licensee against a third party who also wanted to sell flickering candles.

    Here is a link to the decision. http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/15-1671.Opinion.2-25-2016.1.PDF

    The decision first addresses a "standing" issue - essentially, whether Disney, as the patentee had to be a party to the lawsuit. The second part of the decision holds that the lower court should not have granted an injunction in favor of Disney's licensee without first resolving whether the patent in question had been "anticipated" by a prior patent. The decision itself does a poor job of explaining what "anticipation" means (perhaps Dr. Frank-N-Furter would have done better.) The US PTO explains what it means at this site: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/s2131.html For present purposes, you only need to know that an invention cannot be patented (or the issued patent will be invalid) if that invention is anticipated (or is “not novel”) by a previous patent. Still, the standard for "anticipation" is quite high.

    To be honest, I'm not seeing how the first patent anticipated the subsequent one. The court did not decide that question definitively, however. It merely sent the case back to the lower court with instructions to have the lower court resolve the anticipation question before granting an injunction.
     
  2. SorcererHeidi

    SorcererHeidi Sorcerer please cast forever love spell for me

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    As always, I'm in awe of your legal brain. :)
     
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  4. KingLlama

    KingLlama My car finished 3rd on Radiator Springs Racers.

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    I just assumed they were intended to always be lit, but the budget overruns at Shanghai Disney forced them to be reduced to "flickering".
     
  5. kcb1dizbksfan

    kcb1dizbksfan Mouseketeer

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    Disney should have just kept this invention as a trade secret and ensured secrecy on this invention (no public disclosure) then still enjoy similar IP protections afforded by the law ... Too much legal OH associated with obtaining and maintaining patents.
     
  6. EricInPA

    EricInPA Mouseketeer

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    It's why they need the mickey shaped solar panels
     
  7. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    I hadn't heard of this case before. Thanks for keeping us updated Jack.
     
  8. SoCalTrojanSkip

    SoCalTrojanSkip Tropic Rivers Of Adventure

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    I can see it now...the revised HM script.

    When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls; Whenever candle lights flicker where the air is deathly still. That is the time when patent lawyers are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!
     
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  9. Freefall

    Freefall Earning My Ears

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    Does this mean they still are patented or... whats the deal with the flickering candles now? Id like to get more info on this.
    Thanks.
     
  10. DisneyKingpin

    DisneyKingpin Mouseketeer

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    And all this time I thought the mansion was really haunted.
     
  11. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    What makes you think it isn't?
     
  12. jcb

    jcb always emerging from hibernation

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    I really can't say whether the candles are "still ... patented." That is a complex legal analysis and I don't have the necessary information to answer it. There has been a district court decision after the court of appeals decision but it contained a long discussion of anticipation, the validity of expert testimony and mootness. Ultimately, the March 2017 decision ruled for the patent holder, in part, but left other issues to be resolved.
     

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