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Anyone know the patent status of the Wankel rotary engine?
Submitted by P3Driver on Monday, February 7, 2005 - 10:13am

Can a person/company develop and produce wankel type engines as long as they don't infringe on designs of particular engine components which might be covered by active patents?

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subject:
Patent Numbers
author:
date:
December 9, 2005 - 7:06am
Does anyone know what some of the patent numbers are that are awarded to Wankel or NSU? Patents older than 1975 aren't searchable on the USPTO website, but you can pull up the graphics and everything if you have the number. I'd like to print up some early patents of the configuration we're used to today.
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subject:
Patent Status
author:
date:
September 24, 2005 - 8:38pm
While I am not a patent attorney, it is my understanding that the answer to your question is "yes".

It is my further understanding that all of the "old" patents, e.g., the NSU-Wankel patents and the Curtiss-Wright patents, have expired in all jurisdictions.

I trust that this information is useful.
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subject:
musuem copy text panel
author:
date:
May 24, 2005 - 1:39pm
I am seeking information to write a basic copy panel covering a general age of 8-50. I have enclosed the basic format but i am seeking info from others who may have better info to provide. if you are interested in helping plese email me your text panel to sroesch@omniplex.org

Wankel Rotary Engine

Specifications:

need: general specs
weight?
displacement?


WHAT IS IT?

This is a Wankel rotary engine. The principle behind a rotary engine is simplicity. A rotary engine moves in a circular motion rather than up and down like a traditional engine. In this way, the motor runs smoother, more efficiently, and can achieve higher revolutions per minute.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

need some small things to note. ex: Note the physical size. Note the pistons....etc...

WHERE WAS IT USED?

The Wankel engine has seen use in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like the Cypher II. The Wankel rotary is also known for its use in Mazda automobiles especially the RX-7 and RX-8.

WANT MORE INFORMATION?
The Wankel rotary engine was reinvented by Dr. Felix Wankel, who worked in partnership with a German company called NSU to develop the first successful rotary-combustion engine into production in the mid-to-late 1950s.

NSU was the early pioneer and jointly with Dr. Wankel, the patent holder. NSU created the first production version of the engine and, not surprisingly, was the first to build a vehicle around it, the 1963 NSU Prinz. At the same time, NSU sold licenses to other manufacturers to develop their own versions independently.

Most major vehicle manufacturers bought a license and pursued programs of varying extent. Major players like GM and Mercedes committed the most resources and seemed to be making the greatest strides towards volume production but, for various reasons, it was a small Japanese company named Toyo Kogyo (later renamed Mazda, after its most successful division) becoming the standard bearer as others dropped out.

In practice, you can basically separate rotary engines into two categories: Mazda and everyone else.

WANKEL ROTARY ENGINE
E2005.O018.001
OMNIPLEX SCIENCE MUSEUM
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subject:
RPI - Misinformation, Etc.
author:
date:
May 5, 2005 - 6:14pm
I worked for RPI as a consultant before they went away. The real history of the company is not what most people believe and has very little to do with what has been stated in the forum. The story is long and convoluted and I don't care to spend the time to recount it here. If someone has specific questions technical or otherwise I will answer them in the name of historical accuracy.
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subject:
RPI - Misinformation, Etc.
author:
date:
September 9, 2005 - 4:10am
Eric Barger RotaMax

Macifei

Would you contact me at your convienence.

419 694 3000 Ext 222
eric@rotamax.net
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subject:
Patent status of the Wankel; answer to P3Driver
author:
date:
February 14, 2005 - 7:57am
P3Driver, I have researched and copied roughly 1,300 patents pertinent to the Wankel and closely related engine designs. These involved extensive searches over several months.

Broadly speaking, US utility patents are valid for 20 years. These are the regular numeric series with no letters before the numeric part and which include Wankel engines and components: for example, patent 6,543,210. This term was extended from 17 years some years back, in case you have heard about the 17-year figure. Other types of US patents use a letter in front of the serial number, such as design patent D123,456, but these generally would not apply here.

The few patents that are still good date from 1985 and newer and are relatively few in number. Generally they cover such things as stratified charge and other refinements to the basic rotary design through computer simulation and research. Most aspects of the basic Wankel design were patented in the late 1950s-early 1970s, and those patents have long expired.

Wankel patents appeared in three waves: (1) one cresting in the mid-1960s, covering the basic engine design and concepts; (2) one cresting in the mid-1970s, even larger than the first, covering refinements and new configurations (e.g., apex seal configurations and materials). During this heyday, well over 100 US patents appeared annually. These patents, too, have expired. A distinct trough followed this second wave in the late 1970s-mid-1980s. Finally, (3) a third, much smaller wave based on the computer research mentioned peaked in the late 1980s-early 1990s. These patents are generally still valid because of the 20-year rule.

Mazda's oldest designs are no longer covered. The expiration of the basic patents led to the abandonment of the Wankel licensing scheme in the early 1980s; NSU's ceasing to exist as a manufacturer, the wholesale desertion by most licensees of Wankel development in the 1970s, and Audi's abandonment of Wankel development by the mid-1980s didn't help. Consequently, as far as I know, you can knock yourself out producing and selling a variation of one of the older rotary designs without worrying about patent infringement or NSU-Wankel licensing hassles. (Note: I'm not engaged in giving legal advice; talk to a lawyer just to be sure, if you're serious.)

Mazda has so far applied for no distinct US patents for the internals of the RENESIS design. (By contrast, it has applied for numerous patents on the novel RX-8 body structure and styling.) That is because the basic side-port design was patented back in the early 1960s and its use as the exhaust port would be considered obvious by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Some of Mazda's 1980s patents for the 13B that are still in effect would still cover other features of the RENESIS design. The only patent pending on anything to do with the RENESIS in the US is one for the engine positioning/mounting system, if I recall correctly.

I hope this helps. You can do basic patent searches on the USPTO website or on gb.espacenet.com. Take some time and explore the latter, as you can bring up US and European patents back to 1920 once you learn how to search and then narrow your searches. Good luck.
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subject:
Thank you for the excellent info.
author:
date:
February 21, 2005 - 6:55am
That sounds like very thorough research. Any chance of obtaining more of your results?
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subject:
Reply to your query
author:
date:
March 2, 2005 - 7:55am
Sorry about the delay. Didn't know you had responded.

My interest in the Wankel dates back nearly 30 years to when I was in my teens. On the thread a few months ago about Rotary Power International, I mentioned that I had been compiling rotary information for over 20 years for what I had hoped would become a new reference book on the Wankel. Since John Hege's (rather flawed) book on the Wankel came out a few years ago, my approach was to do an encyclopedia much as Karl Ludvigsen did over 30 years ago.

For what it's worth, I am a member of the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH) and do have research experience. My collection of technical papers and government reports on the Wankel and closely related topics might be the largest in private hands in the US, and I continue to collect them. Obsessions don't die easily, ha ha.

Before Jan Norbye died in 2003, I had been in extensive touch with him about the subject of a new Wankel book. He had tried to interest Chilton and other publishers in updating his classic book on the engine in the 1980s but had no luck. He had abandoned the subject and was pessimistic. As it turned out, he had good reason to be. No publisher whom I contacted about such a project has been interested, despite the success of the RX-8, and this includes some rather obvious ones who had representatives at SAH functions. I don't have the money to self-publish, and I have come to doubt that there would be a significant market for such a work anyway.

Reaching my forties has caused me to reassess my interests, hopes, and priorities and face the cold, hard facts. In short: I have given up. There is little chance that this will change.
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subject:
Wankel research
author:
date:
March 3, 2005 - 5:25am
Don't lose hope. Your work may be more valuable or valid for reasons other than popular publishing.

I ignored the rotary since I first remember seeing the transparent working models when I was a kid, so my interest is mainly recent. However, I come from a non-auto industry, and what I see in my extensive reading, research and studying is encouraging. The public doesn't know what is good for itself. The average person would breath asbestos if current "experts" told them it is good for them.

I have more questions and possibly have a mutually beneficial need for some of your work. How can we get in contact without passing email addresses in the open?
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subject:
Response to P3Driver
author:
date:
March 5, 2005 - 6:32am
P3Driver, I use Hotmail. You can figure out my address from that, I trust.

Obviously, a Wankel book would have been a specialized, semitechnical work, and probably would have sold in the range of 2,500-5,000 copies through a regular publisher. This is typical of such a book on such a type of topic. Clearly it wouldn't have been a bestseller, nor would anyone expect it to be. But when the automotive publishers say no thanks, and say it unanimously, then I have to wonder whether the topic is good for even that limited number of sales. Maybe they know something I don't.

But even the specialty publishers seem to want instant bestsellers these days. For some years there has been much talk about "mid-list" authors, people whose books were consistent performers but not bestsellers, whom their publishers suddenly dumped in the 1990s despite the steady, if not spectacular, profit they made for that publisher.

This is what an author must deal with today and is a big reason why self- and e-publishing have exploded. The problems with both types of publishing are (1) they aren't taken seriously because too many view them as vanity publishing, and therefore (2) publicity and reviews are difficult to get. Hence sales are much fewer. Often a self-published book is lucky to get more than a few hundred sales, and all kinds of scam and horror stories about e-publishing are floating around the Internet. Most self- and e-published books don't break even, and it's the author who is out the difference. Hence, my giving up on a new (and, I had believed, badly needed) Wankel book. I just can't afford to waste the time and money.
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subject:
Information
author:
date:
March 3, 2005 - 12:06pm
Such a collection of rotary information is very valuable. Don't give up.
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