XTOL patented?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by alanrockwood, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    I sometimes see people discussing the "XTOL patent". However, I have a package of XTOL, and nowhere on the package is there a claim of patent protection.

    Does the patent cover the actual formulation of XTOL itself, or does the patent just cover XTOL-like developers, with XTOL itself falling outside the claims of the patent?
     
  2. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Patents covers specifics there were Xtol type developers patented (US) by a Swedish company years earlier in the 60's and these may be why Xtol wasn't released until they expired.

    The Swedish patent (US3022168) would make it very difficult for Kodak to actually defend the 3 patents that relate to Xtol, and it's rather surprising it has't been cited.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2009
  4. cmo

    cmo Member

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    There is even a commercial clone named Fomadon Excel.
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Thanks for adding the other patent # Ian.

    Patents can be found at http://www.google.com/patents

    Type the patent # in the search box. It appears that many of the patents are scans to images and/or .pdf format, and they can be downloaded and printed out.

    As for potential patent conflicts, the US patent system has at times been notorious for granting nearly identical patents, and more recently for patenting extremely obvious ideas.

    Lee
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes there's a little man with a workshop converting Polaroid cameras for 5x4 use who claims to have a Patent :D

    This despite the fact that it's been a common practice for many years.

    In the case of the Xtol Patents it's the US Patent Office who are responsible for citing prior Patents, and it's odd the Swedish Patent's not listed. Kodak must have known about it, it has to be one of the reasons Xtol wasn't produced until it lapsed.

    Ian
     
  7. cmo

    cmo Member

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    The little man with the workshop converting Polaroid cameras is a droll story.

    There are similar stories about US patents that are a big time abuse of patent jurisdiction.

    There are companies like RiceTec that control basmati rice production in North America - not because they bred basmati rice but because they decoded the chromosome set of basmati rice and declared it their intellectual property. Every farmer growing basmati rice has to pay to that company, every year.

    Lawyers usurping science and nature just to make money, that are the worst rodents, a plague of biblical proportions. Just imagine that during the last 200 years every scientist in biology and medicine had a lawyer by his side to make sure that everything he found was patented to make sure the company made money - our civilization would not exist, or we would all be busy trying to stay alive without patent infringement.

    Getting back to XTol: if I were not so lazy I would mix my own Xtol or Mytol, that's not rocket science, and as a private party I would not have any patent trouble.
     
  8. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    In my earliest days at NACA-NASA I was taught by our patent lawyers that you cannot patent ideas. You may patent specific devices or other forms of practical embodiments of ideas. Formulae may more properly come under copyrights.

    We needed a source of random electrical noise to simulate turbulent air for our analog computer, and I hooked a high resistance carbon resistor in series with a silicon diode in reverse direction from +100 v to -100 v, coupled to the computer with a capacitor. The high frequency noise was then filtered to the required bandwith by networks in the computer. Someone suggested I should apply for a patent. We found several slightly different, patented, ways of using the same idea to make random signal generators. Furthermore, it was well known that low reverse current through an ordinary silicon diode has a wide spectrum, and so was not even a new idea.

    There are times when it is better to keep a formula secret than to patent it, especially if the idea behind your patent is new.
     
  9. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    Ian, looking at the Swedish patent you cited, all of the claims describe a developer that uses borax plus a polyol (glycerol, mannitol, etc.) as the buffering system. IANA patent lawyer, and there may be other prior art out there, but this patent doesn't seem to describe formulations (like XTOL) that don't rely on these borate-complexing agents.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    While the Kodak developer is different in some ways it should still have been cited as it's very close in others, I've been involved with a few patent's and in the UK they are very thorough.

    But this would be before decent computer systems and cross referencing was probably mainly still by hand and the sheer number of Patents in the US makes it far more difficult compared to European countries.

    Ian
     
  11. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Really? Where? I want one.:wink:
     
  12. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    I have seen some reports that the Foma clone of Xtol has poor keeping and suffers from a sudden loss of activity. Xtol doesn`t suffer from that these days.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Ask a happy user like Brad Pitt :D

    At least it wasn't his money that was wasted . . . . . . . . ex wife's I believe.

    Ian
     
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  15. cmo

    cmo Member

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    Diafine is probably a good example for that - as far as I know there is no patent, but nobody knows the formula.
     
  16. cmo

    cmo Member

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    There are many forum authors stating that they have seen some reports from people that have heard somewhere that there is a rumour about a man who said that all developers that are even similar to XTol suffer from a sudden loss of activity...and he knew exactly though he never used it :D

    I never used that Fomadon Excel, but it could be the same kind of "urban lab legends".
     
  17. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    In the Film Developing Cookbook it is stated "A close approximation to the formula for Xtol is published in US Patent 5,756,271 (1998)."
    It takes a while to download but at this time it can be found via here:
    www.pat2pdf.org/patents/pat5756271.pdf
    My understanding is that so long as the formula of Xtol is within the specification of this (and possibly any other similar patent of Kodak) then nobody else is allowed to market an identical product.I am not saying that Kodak does change the formula of Xtol but the patent does not tie them down to making the exact same formula of Xtol at all times in the life of the patent.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2009
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Because of the Prior existence of the Swedish Patent and the fact that most of the ingredients are fairly standard for B&W developers it's probably un-enforceable.

    After all Ilford easily got around the Patent covering HC110 when they designed Ilfotec HC & LC.

    Ian
     
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Sometimes a patent is quite devious. For example, one of the key points of HC110 was the method of manufacturing which amounts to a chemical synthesis. They used the SO2 and HBr adducts of TEA to prepare the syrup. This makes it inconvenient for a competitor, as this was new technology at the time. The use of a pair of adducts was a rather new technology that may have barred its use to Ilford. IDK for sure. But then, OTOH, maybe Ilford has a license. It does happen.

    PE
     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Ilford used slightly different compounds to get around the Kodak HC110 Patent, it's been written about a few times, the differences are quite clear in the MSDS sheets, although it's thought there may be additional unlisted compounds to prevent dichroic fogging in Ilfotec HC.

    What it shows is it's relatively easy to compound a slightly different formula which has the same basic properties and can used a s a substitute for all practical purposes.

    Ian
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, getting arount the patent did probably cost Ilford time and money. So, AFAIK or anyone knows, it did buy Kodak something for their efforts. OTOH, C-41 and E-6 were freebies for Agfa, Konica, Fuji and Ferrania. Kodak avoided the use of CD-6, which was in the works, just to avoid litigation and allow more free access. The Bleach design work was not free even though it was not patentable.

    PE
     
  22. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Mytol has been suggested as a good substitute for Xtol. Does anyone know if it would be possible to mix Mytol in TEA in a very concentrated form that cold be diluted 1:50 or so?

    Sandy King
     
  23. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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  24. olehjalmar

    olehjalmar Member

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    Try http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~razzle/
    This is not the one who claims a patent, btw. in fact he seems very open to sharing his solutions.
     
  25. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I think you would have to keep the sulfite in a separate solution. It is not soluble enough in TEA to give you the concentration that Mytol has in the working solution. You could keep the sulfite as a separate solution, but you could do that with PC-TEA. In fact, anyone who wants to see if sulfite is really needed should try adding sulfite to a working solution of PC-TEA.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This is exactly why Kodak went with the TEA.SO2 adduct and patented it. It allows very great concentration of ingredients.

    PE