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Space The Courts Science

Baumgartner's Daredevil Parachute Jump From Space Put On Hold 248

Velcroman1 writes "For years, an Austrian daredevil named Felix Baumgartner has been planning to take a 23-mile plunge from the edge of space — and in the process, become the first parachutist to break the sound barrier, plummeting toward the ground at 760 miles per hour. The engineers and scientists behind The Red Bull Stratos project, an effort to break the record for the highest freefall ever, billed the jump as more than a stunt. The leap from 120,000 feet was to yield volumes of data that would have been used to develop advanced life support systems for future pilots, astronauts, and even space tourists. But a promoter feels that the jump was his idea, and filed a lawsuit in April to prevent the event from taking place. And now Red Bull has pulled the plug on the project, reports. 'Due to the lawsuit, we have decided to stop the project until this case has been resolved,' Red Bull said."
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Baumgartner's Daredevil Parachute Jump From Space Put On Hold

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  • WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:59AM (#33880422) Homepage Journal

    So if someone tells you to jump off a bridge, you're not allowed to do do it if they suddenly decide that no actually it was their idea and they want to keep it?

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by AMindLost ( 967567 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:05AM (#33880438) Homepage
      Are you kidding? I jumped two whole steps on my way downstairs this morning and found the cease and desist letter already waiting for me on the doormat!
    • Re:WTF (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:08AM (#33880448)
      I think it depends on the detail. If someone came up with detailed plans and engineering drawings of something that would enable you to jump safely off a bridge then they would have rights over this - though you would be free to come up with a different design and do it. I don't know if this is the case here though.
      • Well, as it's a *promoter* that's suing I doubt the plaintiff has any involvement in the actual science or engineering of the project.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Eraesr ( 1629799 )
          No, but apparently commercial interest is involved as well. It's probably not about the sole fact of executing someone else's idea, it's more likely about the money involved with sponsorship deals and stuff like that. If Red Bull is going to get lots of commercial exposure with this and the other party wants a bigger slice of the pie because they came up with the campaign to begin with, then it's understandable that they don't want to be snowed under by a behemoth like Red Bull.
          • are you kidding me? So now you're saying that, if I have an idea to do or make something, but someone else beats me to the punch, I have a right to sue if I can prove the idea was mine first? Wow. IF that's that case, I could easily become very, very rich.

          • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

            by rossjudson ( 97786 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:10AM (#33882226) Homepage

            The WSJ story has a little more detail than the others. Turns out that Kittinger (the first guy to do anything like this, decades ago) used to work for Daniel Hogan as a consultant on the project. After the meetings with Red Bull, RB informed Hogan that the deal was off, and Kittinger started working for RB on a freshly minted version of the same thing.

            The right answer here is, as usual, "who knows?" It looks like there might really be something to the case, and it needs litigating to resolve the problem.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by nizo ( 81281 ) *

              ...there might really be something to the case...

              Like free publicity?

      • That's exactly the case. He claims he planned and devised the project, brought it to Red Bull, and they rejected it. They then took those plans and implimented them anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by smallfries ( 601545 )

          Playing Devil's Advocate for a second: why shouldn't they? When did we grant Intellectual Property rights to plans for promotional stunts. How exactly does he feel that he has been violated - copyright (not applicable), patent (no applicable).... Unless he got them to sign some sort of contract before showing them the plans he has no protection..... and now I'll probably RTFA to discover which of these was true.

          • Trade secrets. If someone brings a secret, non-obvious idea to you, in confidence, and you then exploit that idea to their detrement, then you've done something illegal. It's like a patent, except you lose your protection when the idea goes public. From that point it's open season.

            • But trade secrets don't have any actual protection under law though - that was the original point of patents. Surely to qualify as a trade secret he would have needed a non-disclosure agreement, and that contract would have offered him the legal protection anyway?

              • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

                by msauve ( 701917 )
                "but trade secrets don't have any actual protection under law"

                They certainly do [].
                • So under American law: anything that a company attempts to keep secret for commercial benefit has federal protection, and it's a crime to spread that information? What a crazy country you guys live in. That is bizarre.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by delinear ( 991444 )
            He doesn't necessarily have to have a winning case, he just has to have enough of a case for it to be worthy of a day in court, and Red Bull are saying they're happy to give him his day in court and are putting the project on hold in the meantime - it could be that RB signed some form of NDA, or that some part of this was covered by copyright or IP, or it could just be a case of sour grapes and the guy will get laughed out of court.
    • The future of IP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khchung ( 462899 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:21AM (#33880496) Journal

      This is what you get for promoting the idea of "Intellectual Property".

      If you can, using IP, stop people from making and selling products, stop people from singing songs, stop people from telling stories that contain certain fictional characters. Then why not stop people from making a jump from space?

      • Trade secrets (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:40AM (#33880778)

        He's actually saying that his specific plans for executing the jump were used by Red Bull after they reviewed and rejected the project. Those plans wouldn't be protectable if they were open knowledge, but given that he was shopping the plans around privately, looking for a partnership, the plans constitute a trade secret.

        Trade secrets are the antithesis of most IP law. Once an idea's "out there", the protection disappears, as it should.

      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        I now see a future where you can't do anything at all unless you have the appropriate license from an IP holder.

      • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @07:39AM (#33880998) Journal

        This is saying: "Have a lifelong childhood dream? Well, that dream belongs to us now, and it is only fair because money changed hands, and we bought and paid for that dream."

        Thank god that Martin Luther King Jr. didn't accept sponsorships.

      • by SamSim ( 630795 )
        I had the idea to post that comment first, please remove it immediately.
    • If you have enough lawyers and a weak enough legal system, you can stop anyone doing just about anything. From here, it's a short step to actually getting anyone to do whatever you want.

    • It's more like, someone comes to you with detailed plans on how to make a lot of money jumping off a bridge, you tell them to fuck off, and then you take the plans and try to do it anyway. And then they come along and point out that you've essentially performed corporate espionage by stealing their trade secret.

      • Depends what kind of agreement they entered into before the talks I suppose. I don't know the relevant laws for automatic/unspoken/unwritten contracts between two parties in such a scenario. It seems like it would be a very hard business to make a living in, presenting your ideas before you are paid, with no possibility of any patents on your ideas.

        • The test for a cause of action for breach of confidence in the common law world is set out in the case of Coco v. A.N. Clark (Engineers) Ltd, (1969) R.P.C. 41 at 47:

          * the information itself must have the necessary quality of confidence about it;
          * that information must have been imparted in circumstances imparting an obligation of confidence;
          * there must be an unauthorized use of that information to the detriment of the pa

  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:04AM (#33880434) Homepage Journal

    When saying "wouldn't it be cool to do a parachute jump -- from outer space!!11" gives you a monopoly on draining money off the people actually doing it, the concept of "intellectual property" really shows how childish and immature it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 )
      It worked for "... using a computer!11"
    • Presumably, as the links suggest, the guy had done a little more planning than just the basic idea. As this is mainly being pitched as a publicity stunt (albeit one from which some interesting scientific studies may result), I guess we're looking at something more analogous to presenting a planned advertising campaign to a company, having it rejected and then finding that the company is running the same campaign idea with another advertising agency. As to how advanced and detailed his plans were, I guess
    • To be fair, this sort of thing seems to happen in Hollywood quite a bit I hear. Someone pitches a movie idea, it is rejected and then the same movie is being produced a few weeks later. If someone has a good idea and even writes up a plan, it would seem appropriate that the people who make it happen should give credit and probably even pay the originator of the idea.

      That said, there are ample examples of this happening a lot. It would seem to me that if someone were interested in pitching their idea, the

      • There's too many valuable ideas being pitched without NDAs for that to fly. It's not worth the time and money, in attorney's fees to review the NDA, on the part of the recipient.

    • 1. Prior to presidential elections, get IP protection for all likely campaign elements.
      2. When campaigns start, send C&D letters to all parties.
      3. ????
      4. Profit.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      I suggest you look up "outer space". It doesn't mean what you think it does.

      Not that the article blurb is much better, with a phrase like "edge of space". That's as meaningless as saying "the edge of an estuary". It's a gradual thing, but one thing is certain: This is well within the lower atmosphere, and not nearly far enough out to be considered space. A tall jump, sure, and impressive if pulled off, but it's not space, inner or outer.

    • Prior Art: Wasn't this the opening to one of the more recent Star Trek movies?

  • Pull the plug (Score:5, Interesting)

    by captain_dope_pants ( 842414 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:08AM (#33880444)
    The promoter who claims it was his idea and Red Bull stole it is, as always, in it for the money. Red Bull should just abandon the whole thing leaving him with the square root of fuck all. It'd save them legal fees too.
    • by toQDuj ( 806112 )

      ... which is exactly what they do as indicated in TFS

    • Re:Pull the plug (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PseudonymousBraveguy ( 1857734 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:31AM (#33880536)
      They invested heavily in the project and the resarch to make this possible. Just to "pull the plug" because some asshole sues them does not only leave the asshole with the "square root of fuck all", but also everybody involved in this project.

      Unfortunately the US is such a big market, else I'd say they should simply pull their producs out of the country and let the sucker try to sue in a more sane jurisdiction.
      • The promoter's claiming that he invested in fundimentally devising the project and how it could be pulled off, though. If Red Bull believed in this project so badly they could've launched it legitimately, instead of (allegedly) rejecting it and then doing it anyway.

    • by santax ( 1541065 )
      Or they just find a suicidal dude, let him jump, make sure he doesn't open the chute and then sue that bastard for liability. It was his idea after all.
    • Well, they stole it from the USAF (or was it one of the research agencies), breaking of sound barrier and all.

  • Solution! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:09AM (#33880456)

    Ok fine! It's your idea...

    Come on. You're going to space!

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:09AM (#33880458)
    You need to be a daredevil to go around with a name like Felix Baumgartner. I'll be buggered if I would.
  • Joseph Kittinger (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see TFA made a nod to Joe [].
    Not sure why it [] was omitted from the summary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by worf_mo ( 193770 )

      In the first 1:30 of this video on youtube you see Kittinger's leap [], and other videos [] show parts of the preparation. Truly impressive.

    • He flew the observation/chase plane which monitored flight surgeon Colonel John Paul Stapp's rocket sled run of 632 mph (1,017 km/h) in 1955

      Rocket sleds had chase planes? What did they expect to happen?

    • THANK YOU! (Score:3, Informative)

      by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 )

      Mod parent to +5 Informative! Articles talking about Bumgartner's jump ALWAYS say it's the first supersonic skydive, like Joe Kittinger's jump never happened. I'm totally behind Bumgartner's jump but I hate this historical revisionism / severe media amnesia thing that's going on!

      At least the media didn't forget about Yuri Gagarin when SpaceShipOne made its first space flight, so I'm hopeful they won't forget Apollo 11 when the first commercial moon landing takes place.

  • Nice catchy title... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geogob ( 569250 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:12AM (#33880468)

    but 37 km is nowhere near space in my book. My personal boundary for space is the end of the Mesosphere. Official boundaries oscillate between 80 and 130 km.

  • Sick of lawsuits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toQDuj ( 806112 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:12AM (#33880470) Homepage Journal

    Anyone else sick of ridiculous lawsuits? Can we get a public vetting vote for lawsuits to determine whether they are worthwhile or not?

    • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:50AM (#33880606) Homepage Journal

      I refer the poster to YouTube. Pick a video. Basically any video. Now, look at the comments. Do you really want these guys deciding what lawsuits are "worthwhile"? I think they'd actually get more ridiculous. These people are the ones that sue when they accidentally kill their dog in a microwave.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by toQDuj ( 806112 )

        True, but you can appoint a weight to their votes through a short questionnaire at the onset of the vote (testing their relevant knowledge level). The questionnaire can be designed in parts, 1/2 general test, and the other quarters by the opposing parties involved.

        • Right, that should only cost a few billion dollars in administration costs and tie up the entire population of the United States in assessing and voting on lawsuits. There will be no time to sue anybody and no money to sue anyone with. Great idea.

        • I can just imagine such a questionnaire:

          Question 1: Do you have all the relevant facts of the case and testimonies from the two parties?"

          a) No
          b) I left them in my other pants
          c) Screw testimony! I know exactly who's guilty!
          d) Of course I do; I'm the judge
          e) All of the above (mistrial)

          It would be effective, and it contains all the information needed to assess who should be assessing (judging, if you will) these cases.

    • Baum=tree gartner=gardner, I guess you could call that an horticulturist, or similar (forester?).
  • by symes ( 835608 )
    Is it possible that this guy could jump out of his plane and, rather than plummet, go into orbit? I want to know so that when I'm showing my kids the night sky I can point out Jupiter, Orion and Felix Baumgartner. Assuming, that is, this lawsuit goes away.
    • The main component of 'orbit' is speed, not height.
    • The short answer: No

      The long answer: Orbit is a condition where gravity and lateral velocity are sufficantly well balanced that the object keeps going arround without either reentering the atmosphere or flying off into space. The lateral velocity required for this condition is high enough that no conceivable accident with a stunt like this would put a human into orbit.

    • Is it possible that this guy could jump out of his plane and, rather than plummet, go into orbit?

      Short answer: No.

      Long answer: as others have pointed out, speed is necessary to achieve orbit, and the balloon from which he will jump is essentially standing still over the earth. In those conditions, he would only be in orbit at the geostationary altitude, about 36000 km high, which is about a thousand times higher than he will be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:28AM (#33880534)

    Is it possible for Slashdot to avoid the marketing-speak? Space begins 100km (62 miles) above sea level. [] 36km is not "the edge of space".

  • by dafdaf ( 319484 ) < minus herbivore> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:36AM (#33880558) Homepage Journal
    Baumgartner is (as the article says) Austrian, so is Red Bull... Ah, and by the way. The guy who sued Red Bull for 'prior idea' (or whatever) is named Daniel Hogan. More infos here [].
  • by charleylc ( 928180 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:41AM (#33880574)
    No one can tell me that others have not, at the very least, though about pushing the envelope for free falling from the edge of space and beating Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger's previous record. Unless the promoter has filed for a patent on the idea of falling from that high, which I highly doubt (even if it is something that could be patented), I don't see what kind of legal claim the promoter would have. Truly, this sounds like an attempt at a greedy money grab. The Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartnen, is pretty crazy even considering a stunt like this, though. Breaking the speed of sound, which is apparently highly likely, without being inside an actual machine, is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, in the event of equipment failure, all kinds of fun physical maladies could appear, like the blood boiling and bleeding from the eyes due to low atmospheric preassure or freezing from -140F tempratures. You would think the promoter would be more concerned about the person actually taking the risk rather than his own bank account. But, I guess that would be too much to ask from the greedy corporate world.
    • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

      Could be a contractual thing, if Hogan had entered into some kind of agreement with Baumgartner or the engineers, then he could have a case to stop Red Bull from using his team.

  • This (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:44AM (#33880588) Homepage

    This is why all Intellectual Property laws, with the possible exception of Trademarks, need to be systematically dismantled.

    Starting now.

    • far from it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:42AM (#33880784) Journal
      Copyrights and patents NEED to remain. The problem with copyrights is that the shear greed is pushing for longer and longer time. And the issue with patents is that it went from physical manifestations that take long times to create, to being applied on software, and methods.
    • by Eivind ( 15695 )

      I think that's overdoing it -- though absolutely zero protections would be preferable to the current situation for many industries.

      I favor a balanced approach. Say a decade of protection, similar to todays copyright, but with an explicit exception for private noncomercial copying, and for copying needed to format or timeshift a protected work, or to preserve it.

      One problem is, that this is much too LONG for some stuff, like software, while perhaps too short for some classes of works. Hell, if you look at ga

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:52AM (#33880614)
    Uh, did this come from their "It really, truly is news!" side, or from their "It is just opinion." side? I think I better wait for independent verification.
  • GM scraps plans to launch its "Fuse" garbage-powered car, after receiving a call from one Robert Zemeckis.
  • Which sound barrier? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:03AM (#33880654) Homepage

    Out of curiosity, is the sound barrier here defined as the speed of sound on earth, or the speed at the temperature of air 23 miles up?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:03AM (#33880656)

    Can we push a lawyer out at 120,000 feet?

  • Now that 120 thousand feet doesn't sound like much if you can jump from 100 km. I wonder if somebody will try it from SpaceShipTwo?

  • According to the article, he was going to go to space using a weather balloon (and then jump into 23 miles of "nothingness")

    For so many decades, nations have been spending huge amounts of money designing rockets and space shuttles, and now it turns out they could have just used a balloon!

  • Oh, good: another life saved.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @07:46AM (#33881022)
    FTA: Hogan claims the daredevil stunt would be worth $375 million to $625 million in advertising to any corporate sponsor.
    If this type of lawsuit was as prevalent in the past, NOTHING would be accomplished.
    Again, science and innovation are stifled by simple, unabashed greed.
  • Joseph Kittinger? Project Excelsior? 1960? Jumping from 102,000 feet? Pretty sure that gives the USAF the patent on "jumping from ludicrously high altitudes".
  • But a promoter feels that the jump was his idea, and filed a lawsuit in April to prevent the event from taking place. And now Red Bull has pulled the plug on the project, reports. 'Due to the lawsuit, we have decided to stop the project until this case has been resolved,' Red Bull said."

    Lunatic claims he was the first to imagine the idea of freefalling from outer space, no doubt after viewing the intro to Mass Effect 2. Suicidal daredevil breathes sigh of relief, seeing a way out of this certain death stunt.

  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:44PM (#33883942) Homepage

    They did a space jump with a Corvette [] in Heavy Metal [] back in 1981.

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