So someone decided to copy our idea for an E-brake handle

Discussion in '1965 - 1973 Classic Mustangs -General/Talk-' started by 12sec67, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. We were selling them to wholesalers. Then we find out someone took out idea, changed it a little bit and started undercutting us to boot. Figured it would have been another company to copy us first since that's what they do. How come no one has their one ideas anymore ? :mad: Knew it was a matter of time. Had a running bet of when it would happen, and by who. Where correct on one of them so far. Time will tell on the second. Same goes for Pete when he did his shifter handles. If it's a good idea, and simple to make, people will copy.
  2. your e-brake handle is a little bigger than the original. correct?
  3. There-in lies your problem. If it's simple to make your only protection is a patent (if it's even patentable). Plus, then your patent is only as strong as your ability to prosecute the violators.

    The only way to stay ahead of this game (assuming the product is not patentable) is to keep upgrading/improving your product. That way, as soon as the leaches copy your last version, you have a new and improved/superior product.

    It's a simple reality of the manufacturing world. There's rarely such a thing as: make a product, and then sit back and watch the money roll in. You have to keep making it better. As soon as you stop re-engineering it, the product is doomed.

    Take a look at any long term successful product you can think of. I guarantee you no matter what it is, it's constantly evolving.

    Selling your current product at cost is not the answer. Make it superior in any way possible. Get creative. If it was easy, everyone would (and will) do it.
  4. At least I know I have the original. Sorry to hear about the bad news.
  5. Sorry to hear that.

    BUT, Where can I find your product? is it a newer style e-brake setup?
  6. patents cost $10K, so a patent is very unlikely for this product. Sorry that it happened, can you still cut cost and turn a profit?

  7. here it is...

  8. I wouldn't be surprised if the ripper-offers are having them made in China. One example is Stinger's header design for the 2.3T getting ripped off by SSAutoChrome.
  9. For sure. Not trying to solve the problem though. Just get rid of them and try to get some money back. Juice in this isn't worth the squeeze. We'll let them make their 10 bucks profit per handle. not much to improve on this I think. The other I don't think looks as good.
  10. Our competitors are always trying to copy our drilling rigs. Some things we have patents on, others we don't.

    We sit back and laugh at their feeble attempts to copy our designs. But, we also are continually coming up with new ways to improve the existing.

    It's almost flattering for someone to copy your design...and it shows a lack of originality on the immitators.

    Hang in there!
  11. If you produce something, it's not unusual for someone else to take your design and/or your information to come up with their version of whatever it is. I've also had this happen to me and more than once.

    I'm just a small producer but I've had some much "bigger fish" use my designs/information without my permission to produce or develope their product by.

    I've also had collaborations with much bigger companies that made it worth my while to share my information with them, so it goes both ways.

    In reality, there are very few things any of us come up with that someone else out there hasn't already thought about. Whether they were the first to actually do it remains to be seen.

    There are many people/companies out there that just search around to see who is making what and if they think they can rip-off the designs to produce the product for their own profit. That's just the nature of pirates.

    Patents are generally out of the question --particularly for small producers, since it would take YEARS to recoup the patent costs before you would finally start making a profit off the product.

    The bad thing with a patent is someone can take your design, make a few tweaks and then it's not considered a copy. If you pressed the issue, then it's up to the courts to decide if it's a copy or not. Then, you are talking litigation costs. --More non-profits if you lose.

    As mentioned earlier, improve your product. If you have a good product and superior customer service, you will still sell regardless of others who steal from you. Don't see this as a defeat. See it as an opportunity to improve the current product or to come up with something else, and understand that your creativity is at risk as long as there are others out there, that ride in on the coat-tails of someone else's labor/expenses to produce "their products" from.
  12. if you tweak the design a bit, i'd be interested.
  13. Great thread.

    This is something we should all think about when we buy things. Should we buy American, buy from innovators, or just buy the cheapest thing that will do the job? Yeah, maybe buy American is slightly OT, but supporting your neighbors when it makes sense is the ethical thing to do IMO - as well as buying from the people who come up with new things rather than the imitators.

  14. While I can understand feeling a little slighted just to put this into perspective....

    You essentially copied ford's ebrake handle. You duplicated the mounting design (so it would work with all the other stock parts of the ebrake system that you aren't making), modified the physical appearance of it slightly from the stock handle and make it out of a different material. This way you have made something that is not an exact copy and can be argued in court that it is not a infringement on ford's part because otherwise you would be required to get a license to reproduce Ford parts...right?

    Then someone else comes along and copies yours but modifies the physical appearance slightly so it isn't an exact duplicate so that they could also argue in court that is it not an infringement on your part, which isn't an infringement on Ford's part.
  15. Sweet, Devils advocate. I'll play.

    We created a replacement for a flaw in a design. Only copy would be the design in mounting, which I think anyone would argue would never be considered infringement .Material and shape are different. Like saying TCP infringes because they use the stock mounting locations. Any of it could be argued infringement, but I think they dance a finer line with us, then us with Ford.

    I would consider infringement more of a, copy Ford's engine, and sell it cheaper then Ford. What I think we did was create an entire new engine, that bolted to a C-4 and fit in the same engine bay. Now what they did, was take our engine, change the color and valve covers an called it their own. Mostly it comes down to principle I think. In the two years of business we have learned business people have none, or morals. Only difference from most is they aren't on the news like big corporations. You are more likely to find a crooked one, than an honest one.
  16. I sympathize with your situation. That said, there is no legal/ethical issue here, and there are definitely no proprietary issues (in regard to you, your competitor, or Ford). In order for a patent to issue, a product must be NOVEL (meaning new). The improvement in the new product must NOT be obvious to someone familiar with the "state of the art". Your modification of the mount and material may be significant in utility, but when you come down to it, the product is a handle. It is hard to justify a new patent on a handle.

    Obviously, the guys copying your product are only responsible to their owners and customers. There are no good guy, bad guy issues. Business is truely "dog eat dog". This is the force that drives inovation and value. For better or worst, the other guy has decided that they can produce and distribute a similar product and be competitive in the market. It remains to be seen if this will work out for them, or you. It is likely that the market for your product is limited and will not support multiple manufacturers.

    Your situation is not new. In order for the small guy with a good product idea to survive, he must go "all in" in addressing the market. You must minimize the cost and sell the product at a price that is so low that it does not attract competition. Profit is like blood in the water; it attracts sharks. You must make a profit while maximizing the value to the customer. With rare exceptions, you can't manufacture the product like a one off and expect to be competitive.

    If this means outsourcing the production to China, or India, or Mexico, then so be it. The state of industrial production in the US is not something that you or I can control. It is unlikely that this situation will improve soon. Trust me when I say that your customer's first consideration, given equal utility and quality, is value. Regardless of good intentions, our current economic situation proves that buyers give very little thought to the impact their purchasing practices have on their countrymen or neighbor. The wallet rules.
  17. Most products that are outsourced to cheap labor countries end up suffering the consequences. Little or no quality control results in products made from inferior materials, substandard tooling and poor tolerance adherence. Nothing quite compares to that sinking feeling one gets as you inspect the first of 10,000 identical parts that took 4 months to arrive via container ship only to discover that they're all rejects. And by-the-way, you've already paid for them.

    Yes, given equal utility and quality, value is certainly every customers primary concern. However, the cheap labor countries rarely produce products of equal quality. This manufacturing model may be fine if your target customer is the typical Walmart shopper, but I don't believe that's an accurate classic car enthusiast profile.

    There are plenty of customers out there who would rather pay for quality form-fit-function parts than spend all weekend modifying inferior garbage that breaks 3 months later.

    I'll go one step further and dare to suggest that U.S. manufacturing is far from dead. Given the current world economic situation, we have an impressive pool of experienced cheap labor right here in the U.S.

  18. Of course you are welcome to your opinion, but I disagree. There's no ethical issue for a foreign manufacturer to attempt to drive my neighbors out of business, but there is an ethical issue when I choose where I will spend my money.

    It also is a matter of self-interest. Our decisions affect things like the local and national unemployment rate and whether local businesses will survive or not. Also, if people don't purchase from innovators - those businesses will either go away or stop inventing new, better products.

    For instance - I bought my Fox Mustang suspension parts from Maximum Motorsports. I did this because they invented the parts and they have an R & D engineering staff. Other companies have ripped off their inventions and I think it would be wrong for me to purchase from them.
  19. buy form the originators

    This reminds me of when i was building up my engine. I would go to the Pomona auto swap and see these copies of Edelbrock intakes. they were cheaper and seemed to be exactly the same.
    Well one day i was driving around SOCAL and had a flat. guess who pulls over to help me out. Vic Edelbrock himself. when you meet the guy who is getting ripped off it makes you reconsider
    over the years I have bought a several carbs, intakes and heads from Edelbrock. Not saying they are the only ones to buy from, just saying we should all support the guys who support us.
  20. Yeah, even worse with Vic's stuff is they don't just sell it. The vendors selling it sell it as "vic jr knock off's." It's horrible too because they only flow about 20 cfm above a stock head, not even close to a vic jr. But people still buy them, and wonder why their stroker with vic jr heads only runs 8.3's.