Welcome to the forums!

Our encouraging community is a dedicated resource for innovators everywhere.

Learn about industry trends, common questions,
and stay informed of the latest happenings at Edison Nation.

I'm always looking for copycats and knockoffs...

countofmontecristo's Avatar

...of my multi-patented patented hose washer (SealGenie) and instead look what I find...

Sure looks the Edison Nation GyroBowl to me!

#ENTeam What do you think? Is this patent infringement?


Charlie Lumsden
posted    Report this topic
Reply
magurn's Avatar

Hi Ralph!

Thank you for bringing this to our attention! This is currently being reviewed.

Ralph Machesky
posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

Thanks Michelle- As soon as I saw the picture, I knew this was not good.  The text description loosely translated is :  Attempt to imitate a self-stabilizing children's bowl

Protecting IP is only going to get more difficult it seems...

posted    Report this post
gizmo's Avatar

Ive seen 3 or 4 different versions of the Gyro Bowl . It crossed my mind if they were knockoffs or private labeled for retail . Search the words below . I cant post links 

Universal Anti-Spill Bowl

360 deg rotation GyroScope training tableware

Ralph Machesky
posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

Steven-  That's where the law becomes 'gray-ish'.  I understand that many of the makers on Thingverse have designed and modeled their own works, but the gyro bowl is not that persons original work to be uploaded by any except the current owner of the IP.  I also saw a lot of other 'works' that were uploaded, but taken down due to copyright, trademark or patent issues, yet- many obvious 'knock-offs' still remain.  

With the Creative Commons license model that Thingverse advocates however, they could be held accountable in a court of law by not acting to to protect IP once they have been notified of such violations.   The 'artist' or person who uploaded it clearly stated his intention was to "Attempt to imitate a self-stabilizing children's bowl" which, to my knowledge did not exist prior to the invention of the Gyrobowl.   If the maker had made one, for instance, that was 'artisitic', yet non-functional, that could be considered an artistic representation, and not  in violation.  However, after further examination, it appears all (or most) of the patents claimed features are present.

Remember, the whole purpose of a patent is to prevent others, from making, using or selling the patented innovation.  By allowing others to freely create, modify and share the objects on Thingverse they are in violation of the spirit and purpose of the patents protection.   This will probably start a legal precedent as I see enforcing IP getting even trickier from here on out.

Another legal standpoint to consider is that of 'aiding and abetting'.  Even if one does not commit a crime by themselves, but instead helps another to commit the crime they are just as guilty in the eyes of the law.  My mom always said I should have went to law school, but no thanks.

And while I'm no lawyer or doctor, laws are supposed to be laws.  If we cannot follow and adhere to them, why have them?

posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

Again I'm no lawyer, but I just read the law as it exists:

Under United States law, a patent is a right granted to the inventor of a (1) process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, (2) that is new, useful, and non-obvious. A patent is the right to exclude others from using a new technology. Specifically, it is the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing, inducing others to infringe, and/or offering a product specially adapted for practice of the patent.[1]

Even making something that is patented is a violation.  An example that may be easier to understand in that regard is the law of 'making' things as it pertains to the BATFE. (Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)The laws prohibit one from even making firearms that are protected by laws.  If you 'make' a weapon or explosive that is illegal without license, then you are guilty of a crime.  

posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

Steven-

That's why I offered the the BATF violation example, it appears the legal precedent of the word 'make' was set and proven years ago. People have been arrested and imprisoned for simply making things- even just for personal use.  Lots of case histories to back that up.  For instance one cannot just 'make' a full-auto M-16 rifle without gov. permission or license,whether it's just for personal use or not. That is prison time.

I think the law is more stringent than you might believe.  I guess the lawyers and judge will have their say regardless of our opinions. If I'm wrong here, my sincere apologies.

posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

For anyone that's even curious, here's just one example of a 3D object online that was removed due to patent infringement claims.

I have seen others as well, and it just reinforces my original thoughts.  I'm also curious why the original inventors of the GyroBowl haven't chimed in...this is their baby, in a manner of speaking.

posted    Report this post
chappy75's Avatar

Since this topic, I was looking into the wording of what infringement is. Even 'coercing' someone else to infringe is infringing. I take that as meaning, developing/providing the files for someone to 3d print a product for their own use would be an infringement. By doing so would do harm even if there was no sale. Would that be accurate?

Ralph Machesky
posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

Yes, James I believe that is correct.  If you also look at the 'wording' of the warnings issued by the RIAA and MPAA about movie and music digital piracy, it is exactly the same.

You can be fined $250k and 5 years jail time *just* for making an unauthorized digital copy and giving it to someone even for no monetary compensation. 

Those works are covered ONLY by copyrights and trademarks...why should patent infringements which are far more substantial, be treated to a lesser degree?  They shouldn't.  The truth hurts, but in the end it is still the truth.

posted    Report this post
psinventor's Avatargold

I submitted my multi egg separators to Edison nation a few times and here it is knocked off.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Wilton-Better-Baking-Egg-...   

There isn't much we can do about it. It just happens.  To the struggling inventor that keeps asking what is taking so long, we know the the best scenario is to rush our ideas to market before someone takes it. 

Crystal-Diane Nappi
LarryBGood
posted    Report this post
countofmontecristo's Avatar

@Jim- Sorry to hear that, but it is a tune we have all heard unfortunately.

Question for you-

I noticed in the picture from that link, the Wilton 'knockoff' says 'Patent Pending'.

Did you ever file for a patent on yours?  If not, then it really isn't a 'knock-off' per se, but more a case of 'first to file'.  Either way, it sounds like a useful invention for bakers.

I can't count the times I have gone to the store and found the exact same thing I was prototyping at home.  Because they were labeled patent pending and I didn't find them in a search tells me they were young applications that had not published yet. 

posted    Report this post
psinventor's Avatargold

@ Ralph,

I have always had a steady 15 projects working at the same time so the best I could do was file the provisional and bet the license deal would save me at the back end.  

 I also know that Edison Nation did everything right to protect me. What ever happened was my own doing not theirs. 

Patent pending could mean a simple form PTO SB/16 that you will not see in any search and a lot of times they will let the filing drop and continue to just go forward making the product. A big bet on rushing to market . 

    I have another kitchen tool /pizza cutter that is being manufactered right now. They also had no intentions on filing a patent so my company took care of it. 

Michelle Sartori
Ralph Machesky
posted    Report this post
gizmo's Avatar

Before crying wolf do your due-diligence first to make sure someone really did a knockoff on your idea. 

In regards to the egg separator I wouldn't jump to conclusions with it being a knockoff. The priority date is 2008 and a "Design Patent" 

Ralph Machesky
posted    Report this post
gadgetmanken's Avatargold

I have had a knock off at least once. It was five years after I submitted it. It wasn't at EN, either.  It disturbs me, but, it too was my fault, because I didn't  go through with it. It was a financial reason. Sometimes its mostly through fault of your own, be it not having a non-disclosure, patent filing and not paying fees, letting it expire, if you let the patent pending expire after one year its fair game. With term expiration on non-provisional its then fair game. I think you can make things for your own personal use but cannot sell them for gain, or profit. If they changed anything different on the said patent if there is one improvement then they most likely could because of the improvement. Correct? 

If you draw up you own plans, and they are not exact dimensions of whats currently patented, can they reproduce and sell? Don't know. Can they sell their different designs, don't know. From the pic I think they have got spacers, or washers involved. Does the gyro bowl have spacers, or molded in spacers, washers, or tunnels? If they make a copy of plans with no money involved is that legal?

I have an improvement idea to the gyro bowl, if the inventor, or EN would like to reach out to me I will share it with them. 

However, I don't condone either but its a gray area, and like I said sometimes its your own fault.

posted    Report this post
larrybgood's Avatar

Jim Siegrist said: 

"best scenario is to rush our ideas to market before someone takes it. "


I wholeheartedly agree.  If you have a hot, consumer product that caters to the average joe (or their children), you're money and time are best spent on solid branding and market saturation and making as many sales as possible before it's copied.

This, of course, takes a lot of money.  But in a situation like this, where you have the money to either patent it (if able to be patented) or rush it to market, I would opt for rushing to market.

Again, this is for hot consumer products with wide appeal.  For business or industrial products, this may not be the best route to follow.

If you rush a product to market and have solid branding, you can still make money.  You will lose sales to copy cats, but only so much.  There are a good many people out there who will only want to buy the well-known brand.  But if you're branding is weak, you will lose out.  

And if you're branding efforts are solid, you may still be able to command a higher price over the copy cats and still make margins that keep you in the black and profitable enough to keep going and keep adding/innovating.

Of course, the other route would be to make as much as you can and try to sell the business/product/brand before it gets ugly and not-so-profitable.

You always have to have "new ideas in the hopper" no matter what route you take.

A word on Chinese copy cats:  Be aware that a good percentage (even maybe the vast majority) of Chinese copy cat products are very poorly made (I buy from Chinese sites a lot so I consider myself somewhat of an "expert" on this matter).  While they will cut into your sales, a certain percentage of those customers will realize they made a mistake in buying the cheap Chinese version they found on aliexpress/bangoood/gearbest etc. and buy yours at a later time.

Jeremy C
posted    Report this post
larrybgood's Avatar

As far as that person stealing the design from EN, it sucks, don't get me wrong.  But there are a few things to keep in mind as far as the "copy catter" profiting from it...

1.  The image you see on Thing Universe and shapeways is a rendered image.  After printed, that product will be very course and not very usable or washable.

2.  It will cost the printer or buyer of that bowl more money than buying it in the store.

3.  I have not looked into this extensively, but I know I read somewhere on shapeways' site that the only 3D printing material they have that is "food safe" is porcelain.  Therefore, it would be a health hazard to use that bowl unless you have it printed in porcelain, which will increase the cost significantly more than most of the plastics available on Shapeways, which are already to expensive given the poor  quality.  if there is another company that offers 3D prints in "food grade" plastic". it will cost way to much, guaranteed.

I do understand that it was not right for that person to steal the design, though.

Jeremy C
posted    Report this post