Kitchen utensil and houseware maker OXO came under fire last week from rival company Quirky. The dispute was over the design of a dustpan with teeth, with Quirky claiming OXO lifted the idea from their designer.
Looks more like an ad-campaign in hidsight now, though, with Quirky painting itself as a defender of original design across social media. OXO took to their corporate site to respond with a devastating defense of the product in question and some words of advice to inventors the world over.
On patents, they had this to say:
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.
At OXO, we either invent or improve. In this instance, we improved upon Mr. Kelley’s patent. Many other innovators do this as well. Apple did not invent the Walkman. They did not invent the cell phone. They did not invent the tablet computer. Their designers improved each and now millions of people enjoy the fruits of their improvements.
The patent in question belongs to Addison F. Kelley, and it expired in 1936.
I’d say Quirky’s social media campaign just failed.