Amazing: Chinese Firm Puts Out Sanitizer Kiosk Patent Claims; Day Later, Different Firm Clones That Claim

May 7, 2020 by Dave Haynes

It’s unfair to be automatically dismissive of claims by Chinese companies that they have obtained patents on products, but entirely reasonable to be suspicious – given the history of copycat and counterfeit products that come by the container-load out of the country.

I posted yesterday about a Chinese company that put out notice that it has patents in China, the EU and the United States on Hand Sanitizer Kiosks.

Some comments on the Linkedin version of the post could be summed up with the statement, “Yeah, right.”

Fair enough, I suppose, but how does one know, without spending a lot of time and money doing patent searches or having a trusted, well-connected BS-sensing contracted agent on the ground there.

Separated At Birth

Here’s the visual from Marvel I received May 6th.

Marvel’s marketing, May 6

24 hours later, in my Inbox, was an email from a separate company saying IT had the patent on these things. The insane part of it – this company pretty much cloned the previous company’s email statement and did a 95% knock-off of the artwork! Same shape, structure, color scheme and basic wording. The form factor of the actual device IS a bit different, and RCstars just lists one patent number.

RCstars Marketing, May 7

The text in the email was 95% the same, as well. There is a CHANCE – but only a chance – that these are either subsidiaries of the same parent company, or direct partners. But the phone numbers and contacts are entirely different.

China is amazing, in good and bad ways.

So what do you do as a direct buyer/solutions provider, especially since there’s no way anyone is getting on a plane anytime soon to Shenzhen? I dunno, I’m guessing probably nothing.

I’m also not going to be the slightest bit surprised now if I get a third and fourth email from other companies that say THEY have this idea and design patented.

The good news is that there are several North American companies, and likely a similar story elsewhere, doing their own version. There’s these guys in Costa Rica. Or Quebec. Or B.C. And I have seen a few coming together in the US on Linkedin. 

And, of course, there’s always the low-tech, unambiguous tactic of using a regular display and attaching a sanitizing gel, spray or foam dispenser to the side. The all-in-one thing is nice, but not essential. 


  1. Ken Goldberg says:

    Interesting to me that a reasonably competent USPTO examiner would not have turned up Sterilyfe, which started making hand sanitizer kiosks in 2012, and actually holds some patents related to the concept. Sterilyfe is not around any more, but prior art is prior art. I call BS.

  2. Of course I have an obvious bias. Low tech and low cost is sometimes the best solution.

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