This is a complaint about unfair trade practices that injure consumers.
Meade Instruments Corp. has been granted some very questionable patents that have led to lawsuits with their main US competitor, Celestron. To mitigate protracted legal proceedings, Celestron has agreed to pay Meade royalties for telescopes utilizing an alignment method based on an initial position of north and level.
Meade claims to have patent protection around any "alt-azimuth mount"
alignment procedure that starts with the telescope in the north and level position. What is unreasonable, is that any knowledge of celestial navigation would naturally lead to such an initial alignment position as an obvious condition. It is only recently that electronics have become sufficiently inexpensive, for telescope designers to use such navigation techniques in telescopes for alignment purposes. It should not be considered reasonable that Meade is able to patent such a concept, as it is based on long standing navigation tools.
Celestron has agreed to pay at least $100 per telescope to avoid a lengthy patent dispute. Meade is claiming that they did the research and development that brought about this technology, when it seems quite obvious Meade did not invent celestial navigation that has been around for at least hundreds of years.
It is highly probable that Meade anticipated the royalty fees paid by Celestron, would directly result in an increase of Celestron product prices. With such an unavoidable increase in their main competitor's prices, it is feasible for Meade to increase their prices and still appear more cost-effective.
It would appear that this patent enables Meade to penalize their competitor's customers, as well as justify cost increases to Meade customers. This is not a healthy situation for any consumers of telescope equipment, as they have already ended up paying more for the same products.