From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Toys (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Toys, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of toys on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Brands  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Brands, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Brands on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.


People wishing to modify this article should do so only after familiarizing themselves with the litigation surrounding the trademark "LEVITRON", which was the subject of a US Court of Appeals decision in 2000, Creative Gifts, Inc. v. UFO, 235 F.3d 540 (10th Cir. 2000)(New Mexico). Earlier versions of this article contained external links specifically related to the trademark litigation. Citations to non-WP:V online materials prior to 2000 will be summarily deleted.--BradPatrick 19:18, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

It's ridiculous to insist that people "familiarize themselves with the litigation" just to edit the article. Wikipedia can use trademarks freely without the trademark symbol, because we're not selling anything. Look at any other article about a trademarked product, like Coca-Cola. —Keenan Pepper 00:16, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, Bill Hones owns the name "Levitron", but for the sake of historic clarity, both name and technology existed long before Mr. Hones "discovered" either. It is highly recommended that one read "The Hidden History of the Levitron" before drawing any conclusions as to the origin of name and device. 16:11, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Why don't you cite that as a source in the article? —Keenan Pepper 02:26, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Keenan, henceforth I'll try to make it a point to summarize my editing in the "Edit summary" box. I'm still finding my way around the Wiki' landscape. 00:21, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Guided by what appears to be voluminous, highly credible evidence on the subject, I've attempted to convey a sense of the richness and breadth of the Levitron story. Apparently my entries have annoyed (and perhaps distressed) some to the point of censorship. Not one to squander energy and time on the "locking of horns", I concede defeat. 19:08, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Dude, wtf are you talking about. This is Wikipedia. Get used to it or leave. And stop being passive-aggressive. —Keenan Pepper 19:32, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I think what he's talking about is the wholesale wiping out of information, as opposed to reasonable collaborative give and take. You can understand that can't you, "dude"? If not, then perhaps you should consider the exit. And drop the psychoanalytical bullshit; it's obviously beyond you. 198..., my apologies for speaking on your behalf. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Information is never "wiped out" unless the article is deleted. It's in the history. —Keenan Pepper 16:22, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Focus Sir. Of course said entries are converted to "history", that's precisely the point. Until you decide (or evolve the capacity) to effectively address the issues at hand (rather than parse words and evade [or simply miss] meanings), you'll remain an integral part of the Wikipedia problem, driving away the very contributors capable of making this a reference worth the reference, just as you've done presently. 20:20, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

You've lost me. All I got from that was a vague feeling that you're trying to insult me. —Keenan Pepper 21:52, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Considering the high quality of contributions made by Keenan Pepper to Wikipedia, I find the above critiques meritless. If the tone reflected in the above postings censuring Kennan also exists in the prior versions of the article, the problem is easy to spot. TheGreatScott —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs).
Thanks for your support, TheGreatScott. I'm working on a new version of the article that will hopefully please everyone, but I have my doubts... —Keenan Pepper 22:26, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I like your new article idea (Levitating magnetic top) best - and it allows for greater accuracy. Well-known brand names make good examples (Fender guitars), but you wouldn't find the history of guitars under the heading 'Fender'. Your solution of moving away from the trademark appears to be the best way to keep the focus on the physics involved. How about a concentration on the mathematical aspects? This may limit the number of contributors (not many have your background), but the resulting reference would be of very high quality. TheGreatScott —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 03:55, May 27, 2006 (UTC)
Oh, sorry, I didn't read your comment until I finished my rewrite. We can still split it out if necessary, though. —Keenan Pepper 00:14, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
BTW, there are many brands of guitars, but I can't think of any other company that makes magnetic levitating tops. Just saying. —Keenan Pepper 00:18, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Keenan, excellent job on this. I really like the layout. TheGreatScott —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 02:32, June 1, 2006 (UTC)

Trademark versus actual thing[edit]

Am I going to have to start a new article, Levitating magnetic top? I really don't want to, but it looks like I'll have to if people insist that this article be only about the boring legal aspects of the trademark and not about the cool physics. Can we come to some kind of consensus here? —Keenan Pepper 19:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Earnshaw's law of 1839 is based on Gauss's law. The principle behind Earnshaw's law is that no combination of inverse square law forces can lead to a stability node that would permit static levitation. Irrespective of the fact that the levitron is spinning, it is still effectively in static equilibrium for the purposes of Earnshaw's law. An equilibrium node has been reached where the upward magnetic force is cancelled out by the downward gravitational force.

Earnshaw's theorem[edit]

Earnshaw's law cannot possibly break down because it is based on raw field theory. The only conclusion that we can draw is that the upward magnetic force is not an inverse square law force. See 'Gravity Reversal and Atomic Bonding' at Yours sincerely, David Tombe ( 13:08, 6 December 2006 (UTC))

I've reverted your edit because it has all of the bearmarks of original reseach which isn't allowed on Wikipedia. If you can cite a reliable source for this then I'll not be inclined to remove it from the article. Thanks. (Netscott) 13:19, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

It's a known fact that when a bar magnet rotates on its north-south axis, the magnetic field does not rotate with it. The official explanation given for why the Levitron is allowed to break Earnshaw's law is that it is reacting dynamically with the magnetic field from the base. This cannot be a correct explanation. In actual fact, the spin of the levitron only serves to produce a gyroscopic stability preventing it from turning over, and it has got no bearing whatsoever on the magnetic interaction. From a purely magnetic perspective, the Levitron is to all intents and purposes in static equilibrium.

Earnshaw's law is based on Gauss's law and it states that no combination of inverse square law forces can produce static levitation. That is not original research. That is undisputed fact.

Hence, either the Levitron is breaking Earnshaw's law or else the magnetic repulsive force is not an inverse square law force. It has to be either one or the other. What would you think is most likely? I doubt if we need any citations for this. If we have two inverse square force laws and one force is greater than the other at a point in space, then it will always be greater because the two inverse square law graphs will never intersect. The two inverse square laws will be dropping off at the same rate and the greater force will always be ahead of the lesser force.

This is not original research. I am merely pointing out that the explanation for how the Levitron works is out of line with already established physics, and I am further pointing out that the raw facts leave us with only one solution. The magnetic repulsive force cannot be an inverse square law force. In other words, the Levitron really does work, and Earnshaw's law is not breached.

I should also remind those that attempt to explain the operation of the Levitron that since we are dealing with mutual repulsion, it means that the magnetic lines of force will spread outwards and away from each other between the Levitron and the base magnet. The Levitron, when levitating, will never actually get in amongst the field lines of the base magnet. Does this quote

" It depends on the fact that as the top moves sideways, away from the axis of the base magnet, the magnetic field of the base, about which the top's axis precessed, deviates slightly from the vertical. "  (copied and pasted from the official Levitron website)

from the official explanation look as if this fact has been taken into consideration?

Yours sincerely, David Tombe ( 17:21, 6 December 2006 (UTC))

Please read this paper. (Netscott) 19:56, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

I have already read it. It doesn't change the crucial issue. If an up/down stability node exists between gravity and magnetism, then the magnetic force cannot possibly be obeying an inverse square law. That's all there is to it. Earnshaw's law is not defied. The problem lies with those who think that the magnetic force is obeying an inverse square law. David Tombe ( 11:34, 7 December 2006 (UTC))

David Tombe, other than yourself, who else refers to Earnshaw's theorem as "Earnshaw's law"? Find a verifiable reliable source that is saying this and by all means add it to the article. (Netscott) 14:37, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

You're not seriously going to let this degenerate to the depths of bickering over whether we call it Earnshaw's Law or Earnshaw's theorem, are you?

What kind of citation are you looking for? What about starting with the Wikipedia itself? Here you are,'s_theorem

It spells it out quite clearly. "applies to any classical inverse-square law force or combination of forces (such as magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields)"

If both the gravitational force and the magnetic force are dropping of with an inverse square law, then they will never intersect. This is form 2 mathematics. Nobody is disputing it.

The Levitron really works. The conclusion can only be that the magnetic force is falling off more steeply than the gravitational force, and hence it cannot be obeying an inverse square law.

Yours sincerely, David Tombe

Have you ever actually seen a Levitron in operation? Unlike say for example diamagnetically stabilized levitation wherein the levitating member remains static, the top actually moves (dances) while levitating. I'm sorry David but if you've got no citations for what you are saying here then it is just your own original research and doesn't qualify for entry into the article. (Netscott) 16:36, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

The motion that you are talking about is called precession. It occurs when a torque is applied to a spinning object at right angles to its direction of spin. This precession stops the Levitron from slipping sideways. It has got no bearing whatsoever on the up/down stability. The up/down stability is purely a balance between the magnetic force and the gravitational force. This is acknowledged on the official Levitron web site. Look it up under 'The Physics of the Levitron',

It says "It hangs where this upward repulsion balances the downward force of gravity, that is, at the point of equilibrium where the total force is zero."

Then look to the paragraph 'Why doesn't the top slip sideways?' and see for yourself that they are only involving the precession for this purpose.

What more citations do you want? I gave you a Wikipedia citation stating the fact that Earnshaw's theorem is about the fact that a combination of inverse square laws cannot produce a stability node.

Is all this a storm in a teacup because of the fact that many of those citing Earnshaw's theorem have forgotten, or never knew the meaning of its origins in Gauss's law?

I don't care whether you put my views into the main article or not. The reason that I keep replying is because I can't belive how you fail to pick up on such a very simple point. That point is, that since we do have an up/down stability node, and since Earnshaw's Theorem cannot be wrong, due to its origins in Gauss's law, then it follows that the upward magnetic force cannot possibly be obeying an inverse square law. Call it an original observation if you like. But think about it yourself. So far, your replies have completely missed the point. You picked up on a trivia about me saying Earnshaw's law instead of Earnshaw's Theorem. You asked me if I have ever seen a Levitron. I've seen the video and read the rules. That's why I'm writing in about it. You gave me a web link to read, that I had already read. You have as yet failed to state your own position. Do you believe that the magnetic force is obeying an inverse square law and that this inverse square law curve is mysteriously crossing over and intersecting with the gravitaional inverse square law curve and hence breaking Gauss's law? I'll be interested to hear your answer to that. David Tombe ( 19:43, 7 December 2006 (UTC))

The answer to this problem is simple. Note well that Earnshaw's equation does not forbid up-down stability nodes. After all, anyone can levitate one static magnet above another by tying it with string, then using repulsion. In that case an "energy well" exists only along one axis, but not along any others, so the string is required to prevent immediate drift. Now if you play with magnet disks trapped between two slippery vertical panes of glass, you'll quickly find that you can levitate one disk above two others. The disks are free to move along two axes, while the panes of glass prevent motion in a third. The whole Earnshaw thing is about unlimited three dimensional motion, and does not forbid levitation in a 2D plane or in a 1D line. And as found by Dr. Berry when analyzing spin-stabilized toys, even a spinning magnet will not hover unless it is free to precess, and unless it's RPM is within a certain range of values. --Wjbeaty 19:36, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

You are obviously unaware of exactly what Earnshaw's Theorem is saying. It is saying that static levitation cannot occur where the inverse square law alone is involved.

The Levitron toy exhibits static levitation in the vertical plane. This can only mean one thing. The magnetic force of repulsion upwards must be dropping off faster than the gravitational force downwards. In other words, magnetic force cannot be an inverse square law. Earnshaw's Theorem is therefore not breached. David Tombe 15th April 2007 ( 15:28, 15 April 2007 (UTC))

There is of course yet another issue that has so far been overlooked. Earnshaw's Theorem was intended to apply to a static array of particles in which any distance dependent forces were all measured from the same coordinate frame origin.
When we are dealing with magnetic levitation, whether it be the Levitron, or magnetic rings stacked over a pole, or a Maglev train, the coordinate origin for the magnetic force will be in the apparatus near the surface of the Earth. The gravitational force on the other hand will have its coordinate origin at the centre of the Earth. If the magnetic force numerator is smaller than the gravitational force numerator, then the graphs of the two forces can indeed intersect and create a stability node, even if the magnetic force does happen to obey the inverse square law. This would mean that Earnshaw's Theorem has been one large storm in a tea cup as regards magnetic levitation. David Tombe 18th April 2007 ( 10:12, 18 April 2007 (UTC))

On the litigation history[edit]

For the poet amongst us, might I suggest: "O the panderous drivel!"? Irrespective of the wording, your message prompts me to ask: What was your intent? Was it to suggest that there is tenacious, blind-eyed clinging to an encyclopedic summation that neither feeds the intellect, nor scratches the itch of curiosity, spurred by deference, even allegiance to the purported inventor? I have my doubts as to such motive; but it does seem the topic has stagnated, even devolved, despite ample room and the clarion call for amplification and refinement. Having a particular interest in the subject, one that has impelled me to write my own (non-Wiki) account, I feel compelled to check in from time to time. I also feel compelled to ask: Why is it that any reference to the discovery, the discoverers or the evolution of spin-stabilized magnetic levitation and its embodiment is promptly relegated to the historic repository? -- This, despite solid evidence of a history that is of jolting interest and of a breadth and depth vastly greater than that of the matter of litigation, one befitting an encyclopedia on the cutting edge. I'll refrain from applying my own editing touches to the article, for obvious reasons.18:10, October 24, 2006

TgS, if you'd like to open up an e-mail dialogue, please let me know. Thanks, 01:34, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

On the litigation history: At least 66 Westlaw citations use the referenced 10th Circuit COA ruling and I've cited this one myself. Not to minimize the toy or physics aspect (which seems to be the focus)however, anyone who deals with domain name issues or cybersquatting is affected in some way by this case. I highly recommend reading the 10th Circuit ruling - as a landmark case, it is far from dry and actually very interesting to anyone who has watched the internet develop. ttlr —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ttlr113 (talkcontribs). 23:43, December 7, 2006 (UTC)

TTLR; I have just finished reading the decision. It reveals quite a bit about certain posts here. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 10:22, January 11, 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia should not degenerate into a soap box.
Certain persons have become insistant on vandalizing what was a well-written article, citing "sources" which upon investigation, turn out to be written by the losing parties in the referenced Federal Lawsuit (and persons connected with them). As noted by the Court, the individual(s) on the losing end of this lawsuit were sanctioned by the Court, refused to appear to give testimony under oath and that parties engaged in "extremely disruptive and uncooperative manner, behavior that necessitated substantial involvement by a magistrate judge." (quoted directly from the Court). Fact is, anyone can say anything on the internet, but it is very different story when they are put under oath (see Clinton, definition of 'is'). Technically, "Levitron" is just a Trademark, like Yakima ski racks; and not just for a top but floating globes and such. Keenan Pepper did an excellent job creating an article which melded the physics element. Contributors such as Netscott have added useful and verifiable physics information in productive Wikipedia fashion. If anyone wants to email me on this, just use The.Great.Scott at hotmail dot com. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 10:22, January 11, 2007 (UTC)
Contrasting this discussion with the Harrigan-favoring posts has me a bit confused. I understand there was litigation concerning trademark issues, and that these were resolved in favor of "Creative Gifts", but what is unclear - at least to me - is: What exactly is erroneous, or worse, intendedly misleading in the posts regarding the stated pre-Levitron chain of events? Is there nothing in the content worth salvaging? In any event, when I read about fascinating inventions - and the Levitron certainly fits the bill - I enjoy learning about their inventors, how the technology was developed, and so on; not just the lawsuits so often associated with them. Before visiting this topic, I reviewed Wikipedia's entries on the Phonograph and the Television. The histories were extensive and thoroughly engrossing; surely the same applies to the Levitron. So, if this is not the story, then what is? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks in advance. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Selcarim (talkcontribs). 18:27, January 12, 2007

The history of any invention can be interesting, but that is not what is going on here. Levitron is a trademark (and not just for a top, but other items). Proper representation of a trademarks and copyrights are important to Wikipedia as a whole, if independence from corporate influence/involvement is to be maintained (Plug - donating to the foundation also helps). Levitron may be associated with a particular device(s), but not all similar devices would be under this trade name. Doing so would not only confuse the mark, but be unfair to those who created their individual device(s). Some source material here is good (namely the physics), however some is just, at best, misleading. Given the amount of disinformation on the internet as a whole, Wikipedia should be held to the standard of an actual encyclopedia, if trust is to be kept. The source material and 'history' article are probably a hit with the Art Bell crowd, however Wikipedia entries should be held to a higher standard.
If anyone couldn't figure out my email address, it is written in anti-spam mode:
The.Great.Scott at hotmail dot com
Be sure to capitalize and use periods where shown. Use @ for at and '.' for dot. TgS —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 20:40, January 12, 2007 (UTC)

Re: The Simon/Heflinger article has an AAPT Copyright. Do we/can we obtain permission from the authors or the Association? 22:32, 12 January 2007 (UTC)Ttlr113

TGS, thank you for your considered response. I can see why the trademark issue is so important. You sound very knowledgable on the subject. There's something I'm still a little fuzzy about, however: Who invented the first spin-stabilized magnetic levitation device? It seems like it should be a simple enough thing to nail down; and given that the Levitron is a spin-stabilized magnetic levitation toy, one would think that the discoverer - the progenitor, of spin-stabilized magnetic levitation would be of encyclopedic relevance - wouldn't you agree? Regarding the disciples of Art Bell, although I've never been in that category, I'm embarrased to admit that I did buy into the whole Levitron conspiracy theory. I can be pretty naive, I guess. Selcarim 02:01, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
What Levitron conspiracy thing? The only connection with Art Bell is that the Art Bell online store was selling Levitrons during the controversy surrounding the lawsuit, was involved and was communicating with both parties. Why does that store have anything to do with "Art Bell disciples" or "conspiracy theory" being part of the controversy? --Wjbeaty 11:31, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
For an article from the viewpoint of a reporter outside the big trademark fight, see: "invention and a patent failure. This newspaper had been linked from the Levitron entry in the past, but people kept deleting it. Such actions are not in keeping with WP policies. To maintain NPOV, WP articles should be balanced by including material from different sides of any controversy. If one side of a debate tries to hide the other side's viewpoint by deleting material from a WP entry, they are participating in censorship and also are removing the balance from the article and making it POV. If you object to this newspaper article, say why. Don't remove the link. --Wjbeaty 00:47, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for your reply Selcarim. I want to research this further over the weekend (it's nearly 2:30 am here)and make certain the information I have is accurate before replying responsibly. There seems to be a Ritts patent for a rotating magnet that floats, but I'm having trouble with the USPTO search right now. I'm probably sensitive to the accuracy issues because I'm constantly defending WP merits to colleagues (as well as the merits of other things, but that's another topic). Thanks for your estimate of my trademark knowledge, but it was all gained the hard way through a lawsuit by a 'well known' corporation. I've also had a former client spread lies on the internet (after being sent to collections) so that touches a nerve as well. I noticed your screen name right away and think it is great (miracleS). Please check your talk page for a message (off topic). TgS —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 12:24, January 13, 2007 (UTC)

TgS, it occurred to me to do a little "digging" on the PTO site since my last entry. It appears that Roy Harrigan - apparently a popular name around here (or unpopular, depending on your perspective) - has a patent for a spin-stabilized levitation device that dates back to 1983. I couldn't find anything preceding it for this mode of levitation, but I'll continue searching along with you. Thanks again. Also, please see my "Talk" response.Selcarim 02:08, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Selcarim, thank you for your Talk page message (I replied). I have my daughter this weekend and have been busy with her, so I haven't had as much time recently. I'm still having trouble with PTO images, but my office computer doesn't have problems with the plug-in, so I can see them Monday. That person is mentioned in the science booklet that came with my Levitron toy, but my other finding (Ritts) turned out to be something different. Gary Ritts created a 'floating magnet' that rotates, leaning on a vertical plane (without touching the plane it would not stay aloft). Still, it is a neat idea and maybe worthy of an article, but get this - the name Ritts' invention is trademarked under is "Revolution". Where would you put this under 'Revolution' on Wikipedia and not have it be out of place? Interesting quandry! Please keep up your 'digging' on the PTO site. The info is dry, but verifiable. TgS —The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheGreatScott (talkcontribs). 12:07, January 14, 2007 (UTC)
TgS, I had difficulty with the images as well. I finally managed to pull up the following for what appears to be the earliest "Levitation Device" to employ the mode in question. It is that of the Harrigan patent I'd mentioned earlier. Keeping things simple and casting a broad net, I entered the term "Levitation" in the "Title" box. Although there were other levitation devices preceding this one, as I said, this was the first to describe the form incorporated by the Levitron. And although the patent was issued in 1983, it appears the gent had developed the technology in 1976, or earlier, based on the date of his first application. It's such a marvelous device; it seems pretty remarkable that it was virtually unknown until the '90s.Selcarim 21:05, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Ouch. Patent wording is not dry. Patents are written to define an invention in legal terms, because giving legal protection to an idea is the purpose of a patent. This is not the same as an idea, patent claims are very specific and because of prior art, must be narrow in scope. Let's say you invent the tripod, claiming a supporting device with three legs. Your neighbor sees your tripod patent and patents a four-legged supporting device (we'll call it a table). It does not matter that you may have "envisioned" a table, or MEANT to include four legs in your claim. You have the patent for a tripod and your neighbor has the patent for a table. Of course this is an overly simplistic analogy; but this is exactly why patents are written using technical and legal text and not in layman's terms. Ttlr113 22:17, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Still searching for permission to publish re: AAPT Copyrighted article, anyone? Ttlr113 22:17, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

You mean the one in the references, [ found on Dr. Martin Simon's website? It's not cool to publish such things in WP, just link it. Or by "publish" do you mean something else? --Wjbeaty 11:45, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

This one stood out, originally having been designated as an AAPT article (often an association must give permission for publication). Naturally, this does not apply here. My mistake. It is an excellent article and one can see why it was chosen as the primary reference. Ttlr113 23:51, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Selcarim and Tgs, rather than use such a broad search, why not just look at the patent covering the Levitron device and follow the cites. No invention is pulled from the air. They are based on other inventions and patents reflect this (see my tripod/table analogy below). The Patent Office website allows you to link directly to citations (It wasn't always that easy). When you find what you need though, be sure not to lump everything under Levitron (envision the article for "automobile" placed within the entry for "Corvette"). Corvette is a trade name/trademark for a specific automobile. Doing so would not only be technically incorrect, but also a disservice to the manufacturers of automobiles which do not happen to be Corvettes. The inventors you discover on your search deserve the same respect.
I realize most of the contributors have an interest in the science behind this device (personally, I don't understand the awe), however there is a case set to be filed as early as this Tuesday which could affect domain name usage and registration in the United States. The Court ruling concerning the Levitron Trademark referenced here is landmark and will likely be cited. Ttlr113 04:15, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Selacrim, this is a situation where you definitely want to check cites (seven years for a patent to issue?). It is not remarkable to have a patented invention unknown to the public. Most fall into this category. In some cases, these patents cover a background device (such as a type of integrated circuit). Remember also, that technology changes the potential application of an idea as well as does new discoveries, while a patent remains static. New patents are then filed, some of which may be more commercially viable (easier to market) and as such, the public will be more familiar with these (how many consumers search patent citations?). I should clarify that when these new patents issue, they will cite the older patent. This does NOT mean the older patent is invalid. Take my analogy below for example of the Tripod and the Table. The Table may be more commercially viable and thus, more receptive to consumers, however, the Tripod is still covered by its own patent. The Tripod inventor can make, sell and stop others from selling the Tripod (if they infringe his patent) or license the rights to make and sell the Tripod. A patent may be invalidated (very rare), and will expire, but cannot be negated, borrowed, stolen, folded, spindled or mutilated. Ttlr113 06:41, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Most helpful, Ttlr. Thanks, Selcarim 14:39, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Ttlr, thanks for the suggestion. Selcarim 00:29, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Selcarim, I left a message for you on your talk page TheGreatScott 05:15, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Tgs, please see my response.Selcarim 15:13, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

(I posted the following originally in user Levitron's talk in response to someone being personally somewhat familiar with part of this controversy, and in response to user Levitron and other users who revert any mention of many publicly known facts surrounding the "development" of the Levitron): What about the U.S. patent record, and what about Congressman Driver's articles? What about the statements of physicist Martin Simon, author of the best published physics paper on the subject of the Levitron? Are you personally somewhat familiar with those? Your clear intent here, never stated, is to suppress any mention of the actual history of the Levitron's invention and development. We are scientific people; we see the dissembling in your stated arguments and reasons for suppressing this story--"Art Bell references," being one of the most laughable ones, but certainly not the only silly argument. (For anyone reading this who wonders, Hones and the Sherlocks advertised the Levitron on Art Bell's radio program. Even if this were not an insignificant detail, clearly the fact that both parties used Bell's program would make this NPOV). We would like to get into the writing of a really good physics section of the Levitron article, as well as a good accounting of its history and development. But it's hard to get past the knowledge that this article is "owned" by corporate interests who suppress facts using spurious argumentation. Here are some spurious arguments given to defend Fascinations' suppressing of the facts surrounding the origin of the Levitron: 1. The corporate interests claim it's a "conspiracy theory" every time someone mentions the Sherlocks. The answers to this argument are clear -- we should mention the Sherlocks and also mention that some people call it a conspiracy, letting the readers and contributers decide about this rather important part of the Levitron story, rather than suppressing the reference altogether. Also, references to Congressman Driver are likewise summarily deleted, along with mention of Harrigan's name, mention of the patents, and mention of many other independent facts, making the "conspiracy theory" claim ever more silly. 2. A second spurious argument given by the corporate interests for suppressing the story is that supposedly the Levitron is a TRADEMARK and does not refer to an actual invention. This argument is pernicious. It is used to "justify" narrowing the focus of the Levitron article to essentially the established outcome of the legal trademark infringement case and practically nothing else. Part of this argument has been something like "The Levitron is a TRADEMARK NAME for a KIND of levitating top, just like the Corvette is a TRADEMARK NAME for a KIND of car. You can't write about the Levitron as if it were the whole class of levitating tops." This is spurious balderdash, and reveals the dissembling and outright intellectually dishonest motive of the person originating and/or using this "argument." In the first place, anyone writing about the Corvette would be free to include the facts surrounding its development. And in the second place, the Levitron is one-of-a-kind, and does not stand in relation to its roots as the Corvette does to the car. It is unlikely that the makers of the Corvette would come on Wikipedia to claim that you can't mention the deals or principal players involved in its origin. It is likewise unlikely that they would come on Wikipedia to suppress all mention of the history of the car either. And if they did, they would be subject to the sort of reaction that you, user "Levitron," and your other personages, are receiving here. We who enjoy reading and editing this article are for the most part scientifically oriented people. Your laughable, spurious, dissembling, dishonest, and dishonorable argumentation are TRANSPARENT to intelligence higher than a dog's. It makes for a good laugh or two sometimes, and a shake of the head. Sometimes it is a little scary for some reason, and sometimes disappointing at what people will stoop to. You may succeed in forever suppressing the actual story of the Levitron on Wikipedia. I doubt it, but who knows. You seem to have the time and motivation. But you will not influence public opinion in your favor. THIS is what people think of your actions here: that by trying to suppress a story, you make it that much more interesting. Of course that mistake was made in the 90's and is merely compounded here. Rdubeau 04:23, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Proposal: move article[edit]

The various spin-stablized levitation devices are not "Levitrons" any more than facial tissue is "Kleenex." Let's move the fully-developed toy article to "Spin stablized levitation top." That way the Levitron article can focus on the trademark, and be linked to the full article about the levitation toy.--Wjbeaty 8:00, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Excellent idea! A thought: rather than "Spin stabilized levitation top", maybe just "Levitating Top" or the like. The latter term might allow for a greater number of direct "hits" upon searching, and the bearing of spin-stabilization - a concept that is, in a certain light, implicitly redundant in the first term - would be amply explained in the piece.
Well, "spin stablized levitation" was achieved by the toy inventor, so it's not truely a separate topic. And if "Levitating top" needs to be a keyword, the title could be "Spin stablized levitating top." (Or perhaps use one variant for the title, and put other variants on Redirect.)--Wjbeaty 17:29, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
We agree that "spin-stabilized levitation" and "levitating top" are not separate topics. Apparently we differ as to, what seems to me, the inelegance and unimportance of the appendage "spin-stabilized" in the entry's rubric. Do you feel it a necessity?
We could get rid of the toy article, and focus on spin stablization as a new physics discovery. (grin) Maybe we need three articles: one on spin stablization, another about the toy based on that effect, and a third about the "Levitron" trademark associated with a particular manufacturer? From a physics standpoint, Harrigan et. al. invented spin-stabilization. They did not invent magnetic levitation; maglev dates from many decades earlier. Once you've achieved spin-stablization, there may be several applications besides as a physics toy. And as per the Barry paper, spin-stabilization of magnets is a very weird and counter-intuitive phenomenon far more complicated than mere gyroscope action. All by itself it's an amazing discovery. Both Harrigan and Hones patents attempt to explain how the toy works, and both are wrong. It wasn't until physicist M. Berry looked at the problem with mathematical rigor that the true mechanism was uncovered. For example, he showed that if the top is spinning too fast, the restoring effect vanishes and the top flys sideways. If the stablization was caused by simple gyroscope action as everyone had assumed, then extremely high RPM is more stable, while in reality it's less. --Wjbeaty 06:16, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
If you would find it satisfactory to do so, let's, for the moment, zero-in on "the toy based on that effect"; the prototypic device that was "The Levitron" in all respects save one: its name. Assuming it a worthy entry, what is the Wikipedic descriptor you would recommend?
Please sign your comments. Add four tilde characters to the end of each comment to do so.
Also, you have just deleted most of the article without any discussion here. Are you a newbie on WP? Please explain your actions. This deletion without first achieving talkpage consensus is extremely rude, and also is a well-known form of abuse on WP. See Wikipedia:Three-revert_rule. If we put "Levitron" under semi-protection, then anon users such as yourself will be forbidden from editing. --Wjbeaty 21:08, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Sir, I've deleted nothing; your vandal is In any case, it appears that I've lingered – anonymously – long enough. Once again, excellent idea to move the entry. Signing off 14:06, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

With due respect to user Wjbeaty, I must disagree with your statement at beginning of this section. The Levitron is the one-and-only magnetic levitating top on the market, and its only root and its essence is Roy Harrigan's invention, by direct appropriation. The Levitron is not like a "Kleenex" (or even a "Corvette" as someone else put it). It is indeed more like the "facial tissue" or the "car" if you get what I mean. Those who insist on deleting all mention of the Levitron's one and only unique history in this article are doing damage to the article. I think we can stand up for the basic principles of free inquiry here, and write about what the Levitron is, and not just the legal maneuverings in regard to a trademark lawsuit. Rdubeau 04:50, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Spin stabilized magnetic levitation[edit]

After following the various discussions about this and wanting to see the Roy Harrigan aspect of Levitron's story go forward I have begun the spin stabilized magnetic levitation which as a physical phenomenon merits its own article. I encourage those who have been editing here to join me in expanding this new article. (Netscott) 07:14, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


Rather than block three (auto-confirmed) users and have them start right back up when their blocks expire, I have elected to lock the page for a week and force you all to work it out here on the talk page. Forge an agreement and when that is done, ask for the page to be unprotected at WP:RFPP. Horologium (talk) 22:30, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

This article stinks[edit]

The article contains only a 'corporatised' history of the subject, contains none of the controversy about the patents, people that appear to be company shills/meat puppets keep removing referenced material, and the basic device itself is covered by another article anyway.

The material on the trademark case is dull, and does not assert any particular notability or wider significance and can be removed without any loss.


a) the article should approach NPOV and include all the information about the various patents that cover it (there are physicists that have analysed this device that are notable about the scope of the various patents).


b) the article should be turned into a simple redirect to spin stabilized magnetic levitation to avoid the article to continue to be used as cheap advertising by what in my personal opinion is a pretty sleazy company. This article is like having an article called kleenex tissue; and, while kleenex is certainly a company, and for all I care Kleenex tissue may well be a trademark, I don't care, it's of no significance unless you're in the market for buying tissues, but encyclopedias aren't supposed to help sell tissues or anything, they're supposed to contain knowledge.

I don't particularly care which, but the current article is a heap of corporate spam that cannot be sustained.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 00:14, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

I don't believe that this is some deliberate attempt by parties with COI to influence WP, though I do agree that the article as-is is inappropriately weighted towards the issue of trademarks and patents as opposed to the device itself. We should keep cool heads and use the rest of the week to discuss a plan for either improving this article or the article you've linked. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 08:09, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

The Levitron entry was not started by the trademark owners and only two of the products bearing the trademark are referenced in the entry. Trademarks are important intellectual property and the Levitron brand is used to sell a range of products. Just as there is a proper and improper, or legal and illegal, usage for copyrighted material, the same applies to trademarks. Trademarks are not generic and their appropriate use is not subjective. The referenced Court ruling is significant, being a Landmark Decision.

Many do have an interest in trademarks and related intellectual property, as reflected in the amount of material referenced in the Wikipedia entries for these subjects. With reference to the above Landmark Decision, Anyone in the United States who has purchased a domain name or sold a product online (using a brand name) since December 2000, is likely affected by the Court's ruling.- Fascinations (talk) 22:13, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Nothing in this article adds anything of material importance to the coverage in trademark, and that article doesn't even link here, (nor does anything else much for that matter.) People interested in the law can find actual working links to the relevant case law there, unlike in this article.
If this article is purely about a trademark and the law around it, then the device description should be removed and it should be moved to a more appropriate name such as 'Levitron trademark'.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 22:50, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Levitron is a trademark, so Levitron Trademark would be redundant. You make a very good point in that only two of the items bearing the mark are referenced here (and only one prominently), providing only a limited representation of the mark. Other Wikipedia entries on specific trademarks should provide a good template. This looks like a good project after the Memorial Day weekend. Fascinations (talk) 23:44, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
It seems to me that we can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Contrary to thumperward's comments above, it's pretty clear that you are engaging in Conflict of interest and corporate vanity, and that there is a violation of WP:NPOV in this article as well. Now, normally that only happens when you believe that neutrality is not in your best interests.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 08:13, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
So, if the article gets deleted, then there's nowhere much to discuss the history of the levitron spin stabilised device, and referenceable facts, such as the notable opinions of the physicists who have read the various patents and drawn their own various conclusions will probably largely or completely stay out of the wikipedia. That seems to me to be the easy way.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 08:13, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
If the article stays, then the conflict of interest will stop, under wikipedia's rules, and NPOV will apply. I don't think you want that. That's the hard way.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 08:13, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Either way, Fascinations Toys & Gifts, Inc. doesn't get to decide what does and doesn't go in this article.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 08:13, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
From the various comments and nature of your discourse, I have doubts as to your Neutral Point Of View with regard to this article. Notwithstanding this, you first point out that only one product featuring the mark is prominently referenced. Using examples of other trademark references on Wikipedia, including the one you supplied, Kleenex, it would be more appropriate to reference the various types of products covered by the mark (rather than simply one or two). Your Kleenex example provides a good template of such an article referencing a trademark (remember, Levitron Trademark would be redundant, akin to saying 'Kleenex Kleenex, rather than Kleenex tissue). We seemed to be in agreement on this matter, then you respond with further accusations of 'corporate spam', 'corporate vanity', etc., laying out options based on your opinions and presenting what should be civil discourse, as 'we can do this the easy way, or the hard way' - a common phrase in POP culture and police dramas with the clear implication that the 'easy way' is clearly in the best interest of the person given the 'option'. Should we chose the 'easy' way and recommend deletion of the article altogether, Fascinations would lose the 'cheap advertising' you alleged earlier. Based on your willingness to argue and disparaging comments here, I fully expect that whichever (of your two) options are chosen, you will vehemently argue the opposite. Therefore, I fully support the removal of this article (expecting of course, your prompt arguments to the contrary). Fascinations (talk) 22:18, 24 May 2008 (UTC)


It seems to me that Roy Harrigans patent is the primary one. The physics papers all agree that this is the original invention. I agree that there is also a legal patent that applies to the Levitron as sold. However, I think that it's most people's assessment that this latter patent only stands because it hasn't been contested in court, but nevertherless there is legally a patent until that occurs (if ever).- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 13:15, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

But the fact that Roy Harrigans patent keeps being removed from the article (by editors that appear to have a COI) is clearly not NPOV; the number of external references to the Levitron that don't mention Roy's patent are few and far between.- (User) WolfKeeper (Talk) 13:15, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Nominated for deletion[edit]

Rather than continue to edit war over this, I've nominated this article for deletion per WP:COATRACK at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Levitron. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 07:49, 11 July 2008 (UTC)