Home Page Column from May 2000

Here, finally, is our fifth issue. We wanted to maintain a bi-monthly release schedule but since we are so busy producing the Century of Lionel videos, we haven't had the time. In fact, we still don't have the time but we're making the time to publish this issue. More articles for this issue will be released in the near future.

We have been keeping an eye on the developments of what we've been calling the "Korean Situation." Since our last posting a lot has happened. An April 20 article in the Baltimore Sun reported that the Korean government held 1,440 locomotives from Korea Brass while the investigation was underway. Korean Brass paid $900,000 to the Korean governement to release the locomotives and they were shipped to Lionel.

The four suspects in the case in Korea, three former Samhongsa employees and one Korea Brass employee, all plead guilty to charges of stealing trade secrets.

MTH wanted Lionel to suspend distribution to dealers until the investigation was concluded. Lionel released the locomotives anyway and MTH filed a lawsuit in a US district court in Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun reported that the lawsuit claims that Lionel sold trains made from designs stolen from Samhongsa. In an interview given to the Sun, MTH's attorney Charles J. Bloom said, "what we claim in the lawsuit is that Lionel either knew or should have known that there were trade secrets stolen."

"I feel like someone broke into my house and robbed my house," commented Mike Wolf in the same article.

MTH Electric Trains is seeking a recall of the Lionel Class A locomotives and damages in the amount of $3 million, the amount estimated that MTH could have earned by selling the locomotives themselves. They also want to prevent Lionel from distributing more locomotives that could have been made from allegedly stolen material.

Neither Lionel nor it's attorneys made any comments in the article on the specifics of the case. But Lionel corporate spokesperson Julie Laird said, "we're going to fight this until we win, and we're not going to be intimidated by Mike Wolf."

What does all this mean to the hobby? So far not much of an impact has been made. At the time of this writing, six Lionel Class As and five MTH Class As are up for auction on eBay. Not one of them has a single bid. But then again, this is the slowest part of the year for the hobby.

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DID YOU KNOW that in 1976 The Lionel Corporation, who sold their train manufacturing business to General Mills six years earlier, introduced a brand new logo? Known as the "Tri-L logo" it was used on stock reports, letterhead, mailing envelopes and all corporate-related literature. If you look carefully, you'll see that it is three Ls forming a triangle. Is it us or does it resemble the triangle seen on slow moving vehicles? Coincidence? Thanks to Andy Jugle for providing the logo.