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MEMOTECH

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:28 pm
by gammaray
What would be the legality of reproducing MEMOTECH peripherals? Reverse engineering the old boards. Reproducing AL or plastic extrusions for cases. And selling at cost? or profit?

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:50 pm
by mrtinb
Maybe you could write the creators http://www.primrosebank.net/computers/memotech.htm

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:16 pm
by gammaray
I inquired about it. The clock is ticking, waiting for response...

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:25 am
by paul ron
it would be advisable to consult with a patent lawyer to investigate standing patents.

if so, then reproducing copies for sale would be illegal.

permission from the patent holders resulting in contract would be in your best interest.

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:15 am
by Paul
Patents normally have a duration of 20 years.
So no problem there.

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:18 am
by 1024MAK
You can often find out more if a patent is still active.

https://www.gov.uk/search-for-patent

As Paul says, unless someone is actively taking care of the rights, most would have expired. Except for copyright which will still be in force. The original Memotech company went into receivership after poor sales of their own computer design (the Memotech MTX500 and MTX512).

Then one of the original founders, Geoff Boyd bought up most (if not all) of it's assets, and started a new company (Memotech Computers Limited). This company sold MTX computers, but soon moved into the videowall business. They then used the stock of Memotech MTX computers as control systems for the videowall system.

It is however unclear what happened to the rights and possible stock of the ZX81 expansions. So it's unclear who may have the copyright now.

More info on Memotech here, and in much more depth here. Some financial details of the Memotech Computers Limited company here.

Mark

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:26 am
by RWAP
After this period of time, there is no problem with reverse engineering products and/or using their case designs (as the design rights have passed).

You have to check if there are any valid patents (as they can be renewed), but the main issue is any custom chips/ROMs as there will still be subject to copyright laws.

To be on the safe side, it is always worth dropping the originators a line if you can find them :)

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:53 am
by 1024MAK
My post above updated :mrgreen:

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:04 pm
by PokeMon
RWAP wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:26 am
After this period of time, there is no problem with reverse engineering products and/or using their case designs (as the design rights have passed).

You have to check if there are any valid patents (as they can be renewed), but the main issue is any custom chips/ROMs as there will still be subject to copyright laws.

To be on the safe side, it is always worth dropping the originators a line if you can find them :)
Patents are valid only 20 years and can not be renewed and I think this is the same as for an industrial design. Trademarks can be renewed for very long times (forever). And of course software can have rights of third parties and these rights (if applicable) are for the life of the (personal) owner +70 years (after death).

If software like ROM code is protected at all depends on many details. Software, especially drivers, need a specific level of cleverness to be protected. Anyway, 1:1 copies without permission are in general illegal, rewritten software which does the same function but with own code is in general allowed. At the end a court have to decide. So it is complicate.

So do the hardware is not problematic after 30 years as long as no software or ROMs needed. Schematics are in general not protected if not partly patented (if not expired after 20 years). PCB layouts are even not protectable if not plain art. Like creating Mona Lisa's face with pcb tracks or similar.

Re: MEMOTECH

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:14 pm
by Paul
In order to give the thread a different direction :
Memotech expansions were great when they were first offered but nowadays make little sense to recreate.
Rampack with dynamic ram should better be static ram today. And with ZXPand and zxblast these are available.
Hrg module are not necessary any more and there is very little software supporting the Memotech Hrg.
Memotech serial port was very bad in quality and serial ports are available via the ZX-TEAM.
Centonics interfaces were very good but printers with Centonics interface are rarely available anymore. Something new should be developed here.
All the software modules were really very difficult to use.
So what would you like to reconstruct?