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How to protect your product from copycats

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Davidoff

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Hey all, how do you avoid others will copy your product? Will having a patent help? Do you have to be careful with manufacturers in China...?
 

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Walter Hay

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Patents can help in countries where Intellectual Property (IP) is respected, and that excludes China among other countries.

If you have an entirely new concept for a product and want it manufactured, being wary of manufacturers in China will only make you feel secure, but the reality is that you will not be.

Search my posts for the word prototype.

Wherever you have the product made, be aware that patents only protect you if you can afford the legal costs of protection. Lawyers are expensive and people who can afford them will often be among those who ignore patents.

Walter
 

Real Deal Denver

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Patents can help in countries where Intellectual Property (IP) is respected, and that excludes China among other countries.

If you have an entirely new concept for a product and want it manufactured, being wary of manufacturers in China will only make you feel secure, but the reality is that you will not be.

Search my posts for the word prototype.

Wherever you have the product made, be aware that patents only protect you if you can afford the legal costs of protection. Lawyers are expensive and people who can afford them will often be among those who ignore patents.

Walter

Excellent - but scary as hell - answer Walter.

I have many really great ideas. Getting knocked off is my biggest fear. I know that I not only could get knocked off but that I could end up against a giant in a legal battle. Don't like any of those factors.

For every great idea I have, I can think of at least three ways to knock it off. It's just too damn hard to make it bullet-proof.

However, I did see one product that was bullet-proof - got knocked off - and the guy was suing his competitor, and was going to win and collect all their ill-gotten profits.

It was for a very simple product, which I saw on Shark Tank a few years ago. It was a patch of grass that was delivered in a flat box - kind of like a pizza box. People in skyscrapers that had pets would buy it for their pets to pee on, on their 45th-floor patio. After a couple of weeks the grass died, and another patch would be sent to them. I didn't think that would be a profitable biz to be in, but I guess the high rise pet pee market is pretty good. That shows what I know about living in downtown New York - nothing.

Besides that ONE instance, I have not been able to figure out how to create something that would be fully protected by a patent. This has been an annoying thorn in my side for a long time. I'd love to talk to some people that have managed to capture - and keep - their market for their products, for a long time.

Love the topic - love your answer. Still searching for the bullet-proof vest though...
 

pmaloneus

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Another way to protect your IP is to chunk out what gets done where and by whom. If you product is one that can be assembled, outsource different parts to different manufacturers.

Once you feel like your prototype or early versions are solid & making money, spring the money for patents.
 

Real Deal Denver

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Another way to protect your IP is to chunk out what gets done where and by whom. If you product is one that can be assembled, outsource different parts to different to different manufacturers.

Once you feel like your prototype or early versions are solid, spring the money for patents.

For a real-life example of your theory, which I like by the way...

Legend has it that the guy that invented the weed trimmer that uses fishline didn't get a dime for his invention. I have not been able to get any facts on this, so I don't know.

But - now I go into Home Depot and I see a dozen different weed trimmers that use fish line. Maybe they're all legit and paying a royalty fee. I don't know.

But I'd hate to be the guy that invented something that was as brilliant as this, only to see a dozen knock-offs a year later.

Another story is this; Kodak INVENTED digital photography. And then got squeezed out of their OWN business somehow.

Things like that terrify me.

Another example is Colonial Sanders with his secret 11 herbs and spices chicken recipe. He used to order the spices from several vendors and make the secret mixture himself, so as to safeguard the secret. Fine - but after a while, that extra work has to be outsourced somehow. He has to trust "somebody" to make the mix. I know I can google and find a recipe that is very close to his, but it's not worth the trouble to mess around with. I'll pay him for the chicken - gladly. I don't think he has too much to worry about. His recipe is too much work. If someone like me is going to go out and buy all those spices and mess around with it - ok - so I'm an idiot trying to save a buck fifty. But, if his competitor tried to copy him - they could. It's not rocket science. I don't know how close they could get though, without him being able to sue them and win.

I love stories like these. Somewhere, somebody has all the answers to this kind of stuff. I'm looking for that person...
 

404profound

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Another protection strategy is to do something with a high enough barrier to entry that it will deter most from even replicating it, and if they do try, it will take them a nontrivial amount of time to catch up. The second thing is to form a partnership with a bigger brand before launch. That essentially amplifies your brand faster than you could on your own, further embedding you as the alpha in the market. There are many many strategies to take, and a blend of them should be pursued.
 

Davidoff

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Mar 18, 2019
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Patents can help in countries where Intellectual Property (IP) is respected, and that excludes China among other countries.

If you have an entirely new concept for a product and want it manufactured, being wary of manufacturers in China will only make you feel secure, but the reality is that you will not be.

Search my posts for the word prototype.

Wherever you have the product made, be aware that patents only protect you if you can afford the legal costs of protection. Lawyers are expensive and people who can afford them will often be among those who ignore patents.

Walter


Thanks Walter!
Sounds scary but it's better to be prepared.
 

Davidoff

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I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Mar 18, 2019
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Another way to protect your IP is to chunk out what gets done where and by whom. If you product is one that can be assembled, outsource different parts to different manufacturers.

Once you feel like your prototype or early versions are solid & making money, spring the money for patents.


Excellent tip. In this way you let manufacturers/possible copycats in the dark.
 

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