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PostPosted: 31 Jul 2013, 21:48 
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http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2013- ... 854747.htm

Updated: 2013-07-31 07:22 By Hao Nan ( China Daily)

The International Table Tennis Federation recently mandated that a new plastic poly ball take the place of the current celluloid balls that have been used for more than 100 years.

The date of the change has been altered a few times since the ITTF first declared their intentions, and it is currently set at July 2014.

But because of a multinational patent, there is no manufacturer ready to produce the new balls, according to a story in the Beijing-based Table Tennis magazine.

The patent has been authorized in many regions, including the European Union, the United States, Japan and Germany.

It is for a celluloid-free ping-pong ball that has a diameter of 38.5 mm to 48 mm, a weight between 2 and 4.5 grams and a shell thickness between about 0.2 and 1.3 mm.

And, nearly all the materials used in the manufacture of the new balls are also included in the patent.

The content of the patent is so broad that it could lead to a patent infringement even if someone produces new balls with materials found on other planets, an industrial insider joked.

Proposed ball ban causing stir in world of ping-pong

According to the magazine, the patent application was first filed in 2006 and did not attract much attention from the table tennis manufacturers at that time.

That is because no patent application filed on new ball materials had been approved before, and other patent applications, such as those filed for rackets and glue, did not have much impact.

In June 2012, a US table tennis enthusiast posted a petition on many international table tennis websites, such as mytabletennis.net and pingskills.com, to protest against the new poly balls.

His questions mainly focused on the performance of the new ball, which he claims has significantly less spin than the current celluloid ball, and he also asserts that the durability is suspect.

Soon after the petition was posted, an Internet user from Taiwan pointed out that now that the patent has been approved in the US and the EU, it seems that most ball manufacturers in the world will have to get permission if they want to make new balls.

Faced with potentially expensive patent charges, members in the Federation of International Table Tennis Manufacturers, known as FIT for short, decided to confront the ITTF on this matter.

They delivered a public letter to ITTF President Adham Sharara at the annual general assembly during this year's World Table Tennis Championships in May.

In the letter, they wrote, "No FIT companies will start selling the plastic ball in the countries where the patent is valid because it is too risky for them to market and sell it from the viewpoints of both legality and the patent charge".

They also hoped that the ITTF could "solve the issue within 14 days because authorization by the ITTF, receiving orders and delivering in a large number require a long lead time."

ITTF officials expressed hopes that the manufacturers could make concessions and buy the patent, but the FIT members still find this arrangement to be unreasonable.

An anonymous manufacturer told the magazine that about 10 million professional balls are needed in the world, and the demand for balls for recreation will be larger.

He noted if the patent owner were to charge 0.01 euro ($0.013) for each ball, it would account for 40 percent of the prime cost. Although the rate of charges has not come out, it could be a risk, he added.

An attendee who declined to give his name said that although they were unsatisfied with the outcome of the meeting, the atmosphere was relaxed because they need authorization from the ITTF for their other products in the future and so they do not want any bad blood, according to the magazine.

FIT President Andreas Hain told the magazine that they are working with the patent owners to work out a compromise on the issue, but progress has been slow.

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PostPosted: 31 Jul 2013, 21:56 
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I think I have seen the most of the amateurism of the ITTF, but I'm always proven wrong... :D

I hope j-bo reads this article. He's mentioned in it. :up:


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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2013, 21:10 
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Very interesting mynamenotbob find! :up: :up: :up:

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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2013, 21:33 
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Well it certainly exposes Adham's misinformation that there is no patent issue.

Quote:
THERE IS NO PATENT ISSUE.

2.4 I urge all concerned, especially the distributors, NOT to create an issue where it does NOT exist. Do NOT meet with Dr. Kuhn. It is not necessary. And do NOT pay anything to Dr. Kuhn or his relatives or friends with regard to the patent. This is NOT necessary. The supply of balls from China is not affected by this patent.

2.5 In the unlikely scenario that the patent held by Dr. Kuhn's connections becomes relevant, then the ITTF will immediately step in to solve the problem. Until then, there is NO ISSUE.

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PostPosted: 01 Aug 2013, 22:02 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Well it certainly exposes Adham's misinformation that there is no patent issue.

Quote:
THERE IS NO PATENT ISSUE.


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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 00:54 
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Seems to me for this patent to have been taken out must at least be likely to amount to some kind of insider trading given the obvious intention has been to profit from decisions the ITTF have now taken. I reckon if they went through a record of discussions of the ITTF around the time the patent was made, there'd be some correlation between intentions of a new ball coming to the fore and such a broad patent being taken out to cover just about any eventualities of what that ball might look like and be made of. This Dr. Kuhn and his wife surely had the intention of holding manufacturers and even the ITTF over a barrel by their actions to satisfy their own greed. I think if the ITTF were smart, they would turn it around on them and find a way "or a spin" to continue celluloid production (which probably isn't going to cease anyway) and keep the celluloid ball in play, while keeping egg off their faces!

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 02:55 
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Am I missing something? Why the reason to switch balls? I hope it's not something stupid like cost.


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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 04:56 
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SergM wrote:
Am I missing something? Why the reason to switch balls? I hope it's not something stupid like cost.

It's a .6mm ball size increase they're quietly slipping in. The ITTF believes a slower ball with less spin will make the game more popular with spectators. :(

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 06:49 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Well it certainly exposes Adham's misinformation that there is no patent issue.

Quote:
THERE IS NO PATENT ISSUE.

2.4 I urge all concerned, especially the distributors, NOT to create an issue where it does NOT exist. Do NOT meet with Dr. Kuhn. It is not necessary. And do NOT pay anything to Dr. Kuhn or his relatives or friends with regard to the patent. This is NOT necessary. The supply of balls from China is not affected by this patent.

2.5 In the unlikely scenario that the patent held by Dr. Kuhn's connections becomes relevant, then the ITTF will immediately step in to solve the problem. Until then, there is NO ISSUE.


Keep in mind that Adham is the one who said that there was a lung hazard from celluloid fibers and that the movie industry was going digital in order to avoid the hazards of using celluloid. Never mind that the film industry dumped celluloid 60 years ago....

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 07:04 
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SergM wrote:
Am I missing something? Why the reason to switch balls? I hope it's not something stupid like cost.


SergM, you must be a extraterrestrial just having landed on our planet. :lol: If you do a quick forum search on the topic, you'll be surprised how many official and unofficial reasons there might be.


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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 07:18 
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SergM wrote:
Am I missing something? Why the reason to switch balls? I hope it's not something stupid like cost.


Haha yeah, the "reasons" for the ball change have been discussed quite a bit in the past. just search the forum for it. Various reasons have been given....a "world-wide ban on celluloid" (which no one can find any sources for its validity) being one.

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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2013, 13:51 
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