Ride wars at Cedar Point?
From the Sandusky Register…
The fate of Cedar Point’s new ride could already be up in the air as a patent war brews between two ride manufacturers.
Brian Mirfin, of Australian ride manufacturer Funtime Group, said the new ride will be the Wind Seeker, made by Dutch-based manufacturer Mondial.
The Wind Seeker, however, is a patent-infringing copy of the StarFlyer — a tower ride the Funtime Group made and owns a patent on, Mirfin said.
Both rides are tower rides that spin riders around as they extend high in the air.
The StarFlyer pulls seats attached to a chain. The Mondial design is similar but uses arms instead of chains.
In its news announcement in early February, Mondial said it came up with the new ride “following requests from clients who wanted a StarFlyer-style ride they could still operate within normal wind conditions.”
“It’s almost like Mondial’s plagiarizing our idea,” said Mirfin, director of the Funtime Group and owner of Cottingham Agencies, which holds the patent for StarFlyer. “It makes us very, very angry.”
Executives at Mondial did not return an e-mail from a reporter seeking comment.
Dick Kinzel, president, chairman and CEO for Cedar Fair, said Wednesday night he had no comment. He repeated that the company plans to make an announcement at 2 p.m. Tuesday about the new ride for 2011.
Mirfin said his company, which has built 22 StarFlyers so far, thought it had a deal to build one for Cedar Point after amusement park executives flew to Orlando, Fla., several months ago to look at a StarFlyer at the Magical Midway.
Mirfin said his company planned to build a StarFlyer for Cedar Point that would be 400 feet tall — even bigger than the StarFlyer at Prater Park in Vienna, which stands 384 feet tall.
Instead, Funtime learned Cedar Point was buying a similar ride from Mondial, Mirfin said
“Now, not only do we not get the contract, now we’ve got to get into litigation,” Mirfin said. “The ones that we’ll be suing will be Cedar Point and not Mondial.”
Funtime’s U.S. patent for StarFlyer — patent No. 7666103 — was granted Feb. 23.
Tony Handal, the Connecticut attorney who filed the patent, said he believes the Mondial ride would be a patent infringement on the StarFlyer.
“It looks pretty much like the same thing to me,” Handal said, adding that he doubts litigation will be necessary.
“I think Cedar Point will not go forward without a license,” Handal said. “They can either do that or they can have the ride built by a licensed company.”