There has been a proliferation of hybrid/hand sanitizer kiosks coming on the market in the last few weeks, most of them looking almost exactly the same.
Six months ago, these things were interesting but almost novelty products – something a media company might use, or a retailer looking to attract some shoppers to a screen, where promos are running.
That, obviously, has all changed, and these sanitization stations are a hot ticket.
Now come assertions from one company – Marvel Technology Group of China – that it has directly relevant patents. The company sent out a mass email to its list (and I seem to be on every list is ever developed), saying it is seeing lots of copycat products being marketed, however ….
- MARVEL has been authorized the PATENT in China, EU and North America.
- MARVEL is the only designer and manufacturer, we’ve not authorized any other distributor in China, either abroad yet.
- All selling and promotion of this product have to be permitted by Marvel.
- Any imitation will be investigated for legal responsibility.
I did a quick patent search with the US Patent Office, but could not find. That doesn’t mean it’s not there. The company does provide the numbers for its China patents, but my Mandarin is non-existent. So I am not sure what the patents cover – the specific reference design, look and feel, or the concept of a screen married to a sanitizing liquid dispenser.
Ask five different people about the enforceability and genuine breadth of patents, and you’ll get five varied opinions. I dunno. But both sellers and buyers should be aware this is out there.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.