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Union Pacific have initiated legal action against Mikes Train House due to unlicensed use of their railroad insignia. Apparently their conditions of license are that they pay a royalty to and also advise UP of their business strategies for models with their logo including marketing budgets, manufacturing details, distribution channels and sales goals. The lawsuit has requested that MTH cease using the UP trademark and send all its UP branded products to UP to be destroyed and further reimburse then for lost revenue and damages.

I thought this would be worth discussion as, if it succeeds, it may have a significant impact on the hobby if other rail companies follow. While paying a royalty is fully understandable, can you see Hornby advising GNER or EWS of its business strategy or Marklin advising DB on its manufacturing details?


Bachmann make a range of Chinese locos. Would it be realistic for them to hand over their manufacturing and distribution details to the Chinese State rail company?
The result of that would be immediately apparent.

To the uninformed individual these conditions seem unrealistic and unacceptable to a model manufacturer. Obviously some manufacturers don't seem to think so as I understand that Lionel is the only other Model manufacturer who has been similarly sued by Union Pacific. Maybe someone better informed could shed some light on this.

My concern is that if all Rail companies world wide decided to implement such a strategy could this lead to the demise of specific railroad company railway modelling or that railway models are made minus the insignia which would then have to be added by the modeller at his own risk of legal action?
 

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It won't lead to the demise of the hobby. It could significantly increase the cost of the hobby or drive it down a path where models are no longer produced and we move back to toy like standards and representations of trains.

I wonder about the mindset of these railroad companies who impose such restrictions.

As Pat Hammond has said it would be pointless countering with a claim that the models provided advertising as the railroad company would simply argue that it did not want the advertising and did not request it.

Why has the hobby suddenly got itself into this state after 100 years?

Both Hornby and Bachmann have a very good relationship with senior staff at British railway companies so lets hope this is a "USA thing".

And modellers in the USA would simply take up modelling European subjects if American subjects are no longer available.

One thing to consider is that modelling in the USA is a one billion dollar business. It is nowhere near that size in the UK or Europe with subjects being largely fragmented around Europe. It could be that American railroad companies want a slice of this very big pie which from a European perspective simply is not there. Have I answered my own question above?


Bearing in mind that this affects all modelling. Radio controlled subjects including boats and planes and cars. Slot cars. Kits. And so on. Most models are subject to a licence. Hornby pay £1,000,000 a year for licences to produce models linked to F1, NASCAR, World Rally Championship racing and so on. Why should trains be imune from this?


And given that Hornby do pay £1,000,000 then the companies that issue the licences have a duty to protect the licence holders who have paid good money for the rights and this applies to any attempt to copy a subject for commercial purposes.

Happy modelling
Gary
 
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