Quirky went straight for the "justice" aspect in their post without presenting much info or even a cursory discussion of related patents.
I'd TL;DR them down to "Whatever your bright idea is probably isn't as original as you think. If you think nobody else has thought of it you probably haven't looked very hard, or if you're very lucky the numerous other people who thought of it at the same time as you or before you never pursued it".
We all live in the same world (now more than ever), we're all influenced by the same things and IMO ideas are more tied to a time and the zeitgeist than they are to any person, every personal and historical "bright idea" I've ever encountered backs this up in my experience.
This is why ideas are a "dime a dozen" and execution is everything.
Very gentleman like response and correction, well done OXO.
While you make great points, the cost/risk of designing a cutting board or a dustpan is orders of magnitude lower and the response should be commensurate.
I don't think it's wise for Apple to not defend the things it believes it has patented but that's an argument for a horse of a different color.
I can't see any real benefits that have accrued to apple from their patent wars. The shortest evidence of this is that Android has now >50% market share. if the patent wars were a good strategy, this would not have happened.
Having more money does mean you can afford to waste more money, but it still doesn't make wasting money wise.
I am not sure that positive expected value was really ever the intent here. From most accounts, Steve Jobs felt personally affronted by the competition, and that is not necessarily a rational place to initiate a major action. I think the best case to make is that it delayed the growth of Android, but even that seems questionable. Android has copied them in virtually every respect, rolled out devices with little encumbrance, and shows no sign of stopping.
There's also the aspect of the patent wars where conflict become self-destructive. For example, a flame war in comments where people get increasingly nasty and lose sight of what they were even talking about. Google bought Motorola for defense, a patent portfolio. Counter suits are now possible.
Dissipating the focus of an organization's executives on rent seeking instead of innovation carries its own costs.
And you said '...the "design" crowd'. What are your quote marks for? Are you implying they're not actually designers, or are you mocking the idea of product design as a profession, or something else?
Pointless drama like this does not result in new products, it does not result in improvements to existing products, it does not reduce their cost of doing business, and otherwise has no beneficial properties.
Like I said before, even from a marketing perspective, it probably does far more harm than good for both of them.
And I put "design" in quotes because I don't know how else to refer to them. They apparently don't like being called "hipsters", which is the only other word I could think of that would describe them, collectively.
And the whole thing feels cheap and desperate. I like the idea of being scrappy and unorthodox, but one corporate entity protesting another? It just smells terrible.
I really enjoyed OXO's response. I wonder if you see that someone is trying to create something out of nothing, how to blunt that? The OXO response seems to try for that, a bit low key, sort of 'kids will be kids' kind of thing.
> Ideas are limitless and patents expire for a reason: to encourage competition, innovation, and the evolution of new ideas that ultimately benefit the end user. If patents never expired, we would have only one car company, and the cars they develop would likely not be readily available and affordable to so many people all over the world. Imagine that.
I find it strange that Quirky is playing up the "david vs goliath" angle. If you've been in both of their offices, Quirky actually feels like they have more money.
More importantly, if Quirky wants to be a billion dollar company, they are going to have to do something a whole lot more innovative than a better dust pan.
The crazy thing is that they make eight and a half different products per employee. When you think about the fact that you're talking about physical products, that's crazy.
On searching, it appears not to be, and the US OXO brand was 'invented' in 1990.
I see what you did there.
That seems like a really bad idea. Silicone rubber is high friction - it's going to make cleaning the bristles hard work. And cleaning the prongs is going to be hard.
So not, it's not obvious that it will be rejected. It could be a seemingly minor thing. I brought up paperclips because in Henry Petroski's "The Evolution of Useful Things", the author describes how one paperclip patent claim was for the variant where the outside wire extends beyond the loop of the paperclip. That seems like a minor variation, but the submitter showed that no one else had done it, and got the patent.
That new design would avoid that problem I imagine. I'd totally but those paperclips!
I did find a picture of what I'm thinking of, in the logo for http://www.bureaudirect.co.uk/ .
Still, I don't think you want an extended Gem. Try a Gothic - it has longer legs and is supposed to be favored by archivists, who are more affected by the problem you mentioned - but I haven't yet found an online source for them. Or perhaps an owl paperclip, since that doesn't look like it has anything which will catch the paper and several places stock it.
You need only review the barbed wire or paperclip patents to see how seemingly small differences can be patented.
That said, this sounds insane to me. Why would you spend money going to war with a competitor over such a trivial matter? ("OXO copied a patent that we also copied. Help, help, I'm being repressed.") Only to lose in the end? I don't get it.
One other observation: excellent application of Betteridge's Law of Headlines.
I think the Quirky people genuinely thought they were ripped off. They wanted to be seen as the small company of inventors being ripped of by a much larger company. Unfortunately, they lacked enough introspection to realize they have done worse, and now they look like hypocrites.
(All I can think of are Microsoft's attack ads against Google, or Apple's "Redmond, Start your Photocopiers" ad. Wouldn't that money be better-invested in improving the product?)
Absolutely, because it puts the attacker on the same stage as the much larger company. It is risky, so it is a tactic that should be limited to companies that have less to lose.
Look up the history of Salesforce.com, and you will see all sorts of attack tactics that were instrumental in their success: attacking oracle, staging fake protests outside enterprise software conferences, etc.
Side note: I ordered a bunch of stuff from quirky the first time I saw the site and almost all the the stuff I got is really complete crap.
The ball is in Quirky's court now. If they have any shred of decency they will at the very least admit that they completely overreacted and that the case is more complicated than they claimed.
I don't expect that though. There is something horribly "off" about the lame way Quirky dressed up a PR stunt like genuine protest, the kind of people that do that are not the kind that are likely to admit mistakes.
Do you go for the cheap ass $1 dishbrush or do you splurge and get the awesome OXO brush? Time and again I think OXO does a great job at delivering a quality product that puts up to all the crappy abuse I dish out.
Most large corporations wouldn't even bother with an article like this. OXO is simply trying to stay true to their roots. I respect that.
As do I until I made the mistake of buying their kitchen timer which has one redeeming feature (many hours of timing - most are limited to 90 minutes) and sucks in every other way possible: buttons that don't work well, bizarre modes (clock, timer, expired timer, repeat last time) and a hard to read display.
The modes make sense to me, so I see those as a plus. I agree with you though about the hard to read display and the hard to press buttons.
It's slightly juvenile, but you know what? Quirky swung first; they don't get to complain when somebody swings back.
Kudos to Oxo.
But OXO handled it brilliantly and turned it into a PR coup of their own.