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Re: Side Plate Systems - Eureka Moment

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RE: Side Plate Systems - Eureka MomentTo clarify the record on the private
development of the SidePlate technology, none of the government or industry
organizations expressed an interest in developing the technology. As a
result, there would have been no SidePlate technology without interest and
development funding from the private sector.

SidePlate was developed for "pennies" when compared to the tax dollars and
industry funding used for development of the RBS and other technology.
SidePlate has, in the past, offered to put the technology into the public
domain in return for assistance in recovering its developmental costs. There
has never been any public or industry interest shown.

As a result, SidePlate does incrementally recoup its development and
codification costs through licensing the technology to engineers,
contractors and owners. in much the same manner as development costs are
recovered by the manufacturers of other structural components such as Zone 4
Products, TrusJoist, Simpson Strong-Wall and other products through pricing

As a alluded to by Charlie, beyond the incremental recouping of development
costs, the license fee includes engineering services such as lateral frame
optimization, complete connection design (drawings, calculations,
construction notes and specifications) including design responsibility for
panel zone performance, assistance in clearing jurisdictional agency
reviews, shop drawing review and disposition of all steel frame sheets using
SidePlate, review and disposition of all PQRs and WPSs and provide direct
support to the fabricator and erector during construction.

The big winner in this process is the general public who benefits through
competitive costs and a high level of safety in structural performance and
progressive collapse control in steel frame buildings designed and
constructed using the SidePlate connection technology.

Henry Gallart, S.E.
Vice President
SidePlate Systems, Inc.
----- Original Message -----
From: Carter, Charlie
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2001 6:20 PM
Subject: RE: Side Plate Systems - Eureka Moment

>>Just for the record, the side-plate and the
>>beam slot connections were both originally
>>proposed to AISC along with the dog-bone.
>>AISC only had money to develop one of them,
>>and chose the dog-bone.  At least this is
>>what I was told by both developers.
Not really. AISC was not holding the big money bags in all this. SAC was,
thanks to the check-writing of FEMA.
Very early in Phase I of the SAC Steel Project, one of the two proprietary
moment connection vendors-to-be was participating as a hopeful researcher
seeking some of the FEMA funding that SAC had to dole out. In those days,
the big slots were being proposed to be placed in the column web behind the
beam flange welds, not in the beam web as they are today. As I understand
it, there were technical and commercial reasons why that vendor-to-be did
not receive any money from SAC. The other vendor had already decided to go
into business while SAC was still forming their plans and did not pursue any
financial support from SAC, at least as far as I know.

At about the same time, AISC put seed money into seismic moment connection
research, first for coverplates and subsequently for dogbones. Though
comparatively modest, this funding was enough to get both projects started.
Then, SAC spent much more of its FEMA millions on those (especially dogbones
which have been fairly extensively tested to date) as well as other
connection details that are included in FEMA 350 and its companion
documents. These include end plates, free flanges, bolted flange plates,
flange tees, improved directly welded flanges, weld overlays, etc.
Proprietary solutions are acknowledged, but otherwise not addressed in FEMA

As I said before, there are a LOT of options for designers to pick from,
both free and proprietary. And that is the good thing!

Incidentally, the dogbone was first developed by European researchers,
including some funded by TradeARBED, who patented the dogbone. HOWEVER, they
released all claims of patent so that the connection could be freely used
for the greater good of the public, the design community and the steel
construction industry.

>>Both companies invested personal money to develop
>>these systems.  I think it only fair they
>>receive some reward.
I mean no disrespect to anyone who has invested of themselves in what are
now proprietary connection details. In fact, I was impressed back when I met
with Messrs. Meyers, Nelson, and Houghton (the original SidePlate folks).
They came all the way to Chicago to show us their work, and seemed to me to
have a very well thought out design procedure and broadly useful connection
detail. I believe they are not just marketing a connection detail, but
rather, engineering services. The latter is worth a fee in my mind.

I've also had similar meetings with the slotted beam folks. I was impressed
on that occasion by Ralph Richard's finite element studies that showed the
effects of the long slots. I did have some technical disagreements, though,
with the assessment of limit states observed in the testing and what could
be guaranteed to occur or not occur in a real building connection. Again,
the vendor will provide engineering services in conjunction with the
connection and, I believe, should be paid when hired.

However, I too have a very difficult time understanding how a fabricated
assembly of plates, cuts, holes, welds, and/or fittings can be patented.
Plus, I have to think a search of a few engineer's drawing files, project
notes, doodle pads and cocktail napkin collection might turn up a lot of
prior art that looks a bit like some things that have now come to be

I'm not saying fittings and such can't be patented. I'm just commenting that
it surprised me that these apparently could be. As a result, I looked into
the process and learned that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is so
swamped that they tend to treat all patent requests as "defensible until
proven indefensible by challenge in court". That is, they assume that if
they grant a patent and it is not patentable or invalidated by prior art,
someone will challenge that patent and defeat it.

To me, the best example of how to approach and use
patented devices in steel construction is the shear stud connector. Nelson
doesn't try to make money off that patent. Rather, they just sell the studs
and the equipment to install them.

I suppose I (and we all) shouldn't care, though, since all these systems,
free or patented, give viable and competitive solutions for steel moment
frames. Just make good cost comparisons between them (consult fabricators!),
count the real costs, and you'll be doing your clients a service.

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