Wednesday, November 3
From the "Darn, That Sounds Familiar" Department:
ORLANDO - A Tennessee man is suing Walt Disney World for allegedly stealing his idea for FastPass, the ride reservation system used at theme parks around the world.
Robert Keyes, of Kingsport, Tenn., filed his lawsuit in federal court in Orlando this month, saying Disney officials told him his idea wouldn't work after he presented it to them.
"They told me it was an inconvenience to the guests," Keyes said. "Then they turn around and patent it, so that others couldn't use the system, and they didn't even put my name as the inventor."
Keyes said he came up with the idea in 1990 after watching an elderly man collapse from heat exhaustion while waiting in a line at Disney MGM Studios. After sending a letter to Disney the next year describing his idea, the company soon responded with a rejection letter.
In 1999, Disney introduced FastPass, an automated system that gives visitors a ticket so they can skip the long lines at its parks' most popular rides. The invention has been copied across the industry.
Keyes learned of FastPass last October when he saw a Travel Channel special on Disney's program.
"I heard in the background, they were describing their system, and I said, 'Darn, that sounds familiar,'" Keyes said.
He logged on to the U.S. patent Web site and found Disney's claim to the invention. "I looked at the patent, I read the abstract and description and said, 'My God, they took the whole thing.'"
Anti-monorail debater Charles Royer, a former Seattle mayor, called the monorail "a go it alone, Iraq kind of thing, where this is the wrong system, in the wrong place, at the wrong time."