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.
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.
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.
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.
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.