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Baby Got Brooms
January 27, 2013 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Quirky (previously) is a design and manufacturing website for inventors. In 2010, one of their users, Bill Ward, came up with an idea for a dustpan called the Broom Groomer with a comb-like edge for cleaning off all the dustbunnies and stuff that builds up on your broom. Turns out, gadget company OXO came out with a very similar design in 2012 called the Upright Sweep Set. Last week, the folks at Quirky staged a protest and paid for a billboard that accused OXO of ripping off their design. OXO responds on their blog with a mini-lesson on patents and international intellectual property rights.
posted by 23skidoo (77 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Suddenly I appreciate my OXO vegetable peeler all the more. Excellent response.
posted by maryr at 8:57 AM on January 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I suspect the Quirky "protest" had little to do with any actual grievance against OXO, and had far more to do with marketing.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:59 AM on January 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was all prepared to get angry at OXO, going in to this, but their response absolutely confounded that preconception. Well done.

Also, if this technology has been available since before the First World War, why aren't all dustpans like this?!
posted by Dreadnought at 9:02 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this.
The 1919 patent somewhat invalidates Quirky's argument.
Quirky have responed with:"Quirky Stands Strong Following Oxo’s Response"
Respect for the OXO PR department for playing this one so cool.
Probable winners - both, all publicity is good publicity.
posted by Drew Glass at 9:02 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, normally I'd be all over this like Cory Doctorow over a commercially-appropriated Etsy steampunk accessory, but Oxo has some good points, particularly the movement of designs the other way.
posted by carter at 9:03 AM on January 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The fact that Quirky pulled this stunt in the first place without noting that the design was a hundred years old is kind of dishonest. Their response confirms this basic dishonesty.

So it's a pretty great--and generous--response from OXO. I, too, am suddenly more willing to pay a premium for their products. The language of truce at the end is particularly welcome: there's already far too much intellectual property protection in the world. We need less possessiveness on that front, not more.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:05 AM on January 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


OH SNAP.
posted by wreckingball at 9:08 AM on January 27, 2013


Oooh, burn.

I was expecting some mealy-mouthed and untrustworthy excuse. Iron clad proof that you're being falsely accused because it was invented a century ago? Priceless.
posted by tyllwin at 9:09 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hugs'n'kisses, OXO, hugs'n'kisses.
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:10 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm pleasantly surprised by OXO's response. Well played.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:11 AM on January 27, 2013


I can't make up my mind who to hate. Right now I hate both of them because their marketing driven fake social media spat is stealing my mental bandwidth. OXO, I need some sort of grooming comb for my brain to rid it of this bullshit, plz invent one.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:11 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fact that Quirky pulled this stunt in the first place without noting that the design was a hundred years old is kind of dishonest. Their response confirms this basic dishonesty.

Absolutely. OXO come across great in this. Quirky looks horrible multiple times. Their response makes them look utterly clueless and mean-spirited and completely ignorant of how adults should behave.

I'd never heard of the site before and with such pettiness among their higher-ups, that not surprising.
posted by dobbs at 9:12 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the Quirky response Drew Glass linked is actually kind of dickish.
posted by maryr at 9:12 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


OXO is looking good in this exchange; I couldn't even figure out the logic of Quirky's response post, e.g:

Oxo did not copy a 1919 patent when designing their dustpan… They cavalierly copied our product and are using an old patent (and the world’s general lack of understanding of intellectual property laws) to distract from the true conversation.

Umm... this just seems like a unsupported assertion, especially given the rather significant differences between the two products (Quirky's is a dustpan, OXO's is upright, etc). As for OXO apparently not replying to an email, isn't the usual next step to... write a letter? Or do the cool kids just not do letters any more?
posted by adrianhon at 9:17 AM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Transparent PR play on Quirky's part. Look at the production quality on that billboard, and on those Che-inspired protest tees!
posted by thejoshu at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or do the cool kids just not do letters any more?

They click the blue button with the thumb pointing down.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:25 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read that "Quirky Stands Strong" post, the whole thing is a bit of a joke, but this sentence really stood out:

"Alex did not respond, but curiously Quirky HQ’s IP was soon blocked from accessing the oxo.com website the very next day."

Really, they blocked their IP from accessing their website. As an engineer I find that hard to believe, firstly figuring out the IP of some random person on the internet isn't that easy, secondly, what in the hell would that even accomplish? Just makes quirky seem paranoid.

Also, their argument that popularizing something is just as important as being the first to invent is laughable. The market has rules not to match some abstract notion of 'fair', but to provide incentives for innovation, and increasing competition. The rules around patents are pretty simple, invention counts, popularizing doesn't. If popularizing were protected innovation would slow, prices would rise, and making anything would be even more complicated.

At any rate, the only people Quirky are fooling at this point are their diehard fans and themselves.
posted by sp160n at 9:25 AM on January 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Maybe they just need to reset their router.
posted by maryr at 9:31 AM on January 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


It seems that Quirky, or at least many of their participant-inventors, are like the majority of everybody in not having a clue about what patents are or what they are for. Occasionally someone asks why I don't patent this or that thing I've done and they're usually astonished by the response:

1. Patent is a form of publication. There is no such thing (at least in the US) as a secret or obfuscative patent. The patent exists to bring your idea out in the open so that it will eventually be open to everyone. Your temporary legal monopoly on the idea is the patent system's payment for this eventual outcome. (Before Sonny Bono and Disney, this was also pretty much the case for copyrights, but I digress.)

2. All a patent is is a license to sue someone. The cost of bringing that suit and the risk of losing it are on you. This is undoubtably why in their FAQ Quirky claims that they pursue patent protection "when it makes economic sense." Often it doesn't.

3. The fact that you are granted a patent does not speak to the merit, marketability, or even actual patentability of your idea. All it means is that you were able to convince a bunch of overworked and often non-expert reviewers that your idea is new and useful enough that it would benefit society to give you a temporary monopoly to protect your investment in developing the idea.

4. When you sue an infringer it's a civil case, where the standard for victory is "preponderance of the evidence." The fact that your idea was patented, published, or produced before you made your patent application is an absolute defense for your would-be infringer. It happens with great regularity that courts overturn patents which were granted by mistake because the reviewers missed such prior art.

5. Patent is very, very different from copyright, both from the start and even more so since Sonny Bono and Disney. Copyright exists automatically the moment you create a work; the advantage you get by formally registering your work is that your license to sue includes the right to punitive damages. Patent only exists as the result of application. You cannot copyright an idea, only the specific implementation of one, so even though 50 Shades of Gray is Twilight fanfic withthe names changed and the vampire turned into a billionaire, it's different enough that it doesn't infringe Twilight. The picture of OXO's product could not possibly infringe a picture of Quirky's. But you can patent an idea, and if it weren't for the 1919 patent, and if Quirky had gone to the trouble to patent the broom comber, then they might have a leg to stand on. As OXO explains though they simply didn't follow the process.

6. Once a patent expires the whole idea is for the idea to flow into the public domain for use by anybody. Thus the 1919 patent is not just something that OXO dug up to justify themselves; it really does justify them, by intent of the patent system. That's exactly what the patent system is for and if you don't understand that you really shouldn't fancy yourself an inventor.
posted by localroger at 9:31 AM on January 27, 2013 [56 favorites]


I'm glad the OXO response was so classy. I've found their products to be great and very disability friendly; I'd hate to feel bad about buying them because they're all made by jackasses.
posted by immlass at 9:32 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


...curiously Quirky HQ’s IP was soon blocked from accessing the oxo.com website the very next day.

Really, they blocked their IP from accessing their website. As an engineer I find that hard to believe, firstly figuring out the IP of some random person on the internet isn't that easy, secondly, what in the hell would that even accomplish? Just makes quirky seem paranoid.


One has to wonder if Quirky wasn't bombing OXO's servers in an attempt to crash them? Given the general tenor of Quirky's actions so far, I wouldn't it past them.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:35 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


They’re blocking my IP right now. I’m not sure why.
posted by bongo_x at 9:36 AM on January 27, 2013


Well OXO surely comes out seeming like the reasonable party in this dispute. I haven't seen the Quirky patent app but I must wonder if it cites the prior art of the 1919 patent, and if so, what the hell is the patentable substantial improvement conferred by their design? I am not a patent lawyer but this looks like BS.
posted by Mister_A at 9:38 AM on January 27, 2013


Yeah, normally I'd be all over this like Cory Doctorow over a commercially-appropriated Etsy steampunk accessory...

That's pretty funny. When I first read this story, one of my first thoughts was "I bet this ends up on BB, spun as some kind of 'über-cool-makers-vs-evil-corporate-giant' rage-on".
posted by Thorzdad at 9:40 AM on January 27, 2013


"Alex did not respond, but curiously Quirky HQ’s IP was soon blocked from accessing the oxo.com website the very next day."

That, the meme ready custom t shirts, the fact that OXO mentioned how many friends Quirky has on facebook, and the fact that neither Quirky nor OXO didn't just stfu and call their lawyers have led me to believe they are engaged in some sort of Andy Kaufmanesque corporate performance art. I would not be surprised if the CEOs of Quirky,OXO and Smart Design did not hatch this dastardly scheme over drinks wherever CEOs of small but plucky companies go to have drinks. The Campbell Apartment, or Milk and Honey, if it even still exists, I bet.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:41 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is that dystopian novel where QuirkyTM terrorists next take the CEO of OXO hostage as rival gangs of designer kitchen-ware ethusiasts fight it out in the street....
posted by ennui.bz at 9:43 AM on January 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mister_A, OXO's sidebar explains pretty clearly that even if the 1919 patent didn't exist, Quirky missed the application window after the point of public disclosure of the idea and that their patent would likely be invalidated on those grounds.
posted by localroger at 9:44 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem: "led me to believe they are engaged in some sort of Andy Kaufmanesque corporate performance art. "

I would buy that, if Quirky didn't end up looking like assholes.
posted by graventy at 9:48 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is that dystopian novel where QuirkyTM terrorists next take the CEO of OXO hostage as rival gangs of designer kitchen-ware ethusiasts fight it out in the street....

With ergonomically-designed rubber-handled vegetable peelers.
posted by BrashTech at 9:49 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I learned something: from the egg yolk separation video on the OXO site. All this time I've been doing it the hard way.
posted by eye of newt at 9:51 AM on January 27, 2013


Quirky is probably trying to make themselves look good in the short term to their own participants; if you read their IP FAQ it's really clear that the true answer to the question "how is my IP protected after I submit to Quirky" is "it isn't, unless we think your idea is good enough to invest in."
posted by localroger at 9:52 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone should probably note that, if you have an idea you think might be useful and original enough to patent and exploit profitably, you should not tell anyone about it or take any concrete steps to exploit it until you have read a recent edition of Patent It Yourself. If you read that and think it's worth going ahead, you still shouldn't until you have read the most recent edition of PIY or, even better, retained an actual patent attorney.
posted by localroger at 9:55 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sooner I can pick up a Chinese knock off of this from Poundland, the better.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2013


I really like OXO products and I use them all the time, and I really liked OXO's response here, but I have a sad feeling that if I didn't like OXOs products and thought they were overpriced frou-frou, and they posted the same response, I wouldn't like it as much.

At least, that's my explanation for why I'm OK with all of Apple's business practices.
posted by escabeche at 10:06 AM on January 27, 2013


Quirky: re-patenting public domain ideas since... well, forever!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:07 AM on January 27, 2013


and the fact that neither Quirky nor OXO didn't just stfu and call their lawyers have led me to believe they are engaged in some sort of Andy Kaufmanesque corporate performance art.

Lawyers aren't publicly involved because Quirky, as it admits, isn't making a legal argument. It seems to be trying to make an ethical argument - if your competitor is selling something, it's unethical to sell something similar.

I can't decide if it's hypocritical or shortsighted for a for-profit company to make an essentially anti-free market ethical claim.
posted by muddgirl at 10:08 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen the Quirky patent app but I must wonder if it cites the prior art of the 1919 patent, and if so, what the hell is the patentable substantial improvement conferred by their design? I am not a patent lawyer but this looks like BS.

Not sure they have one. The earlier patent is long expired and anyone can use the design. That's why Quirky's argument is so shitty.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 AM on January 27, 2013


Whoops! Quirky's patent, not OXO's who doesn't have one.

Suspect quirky just tosses the application out there and puts the product into production.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2013


I can't decide if it's hypocritical or shortsighted for a for-profit company to make an essentially anti-free market ethical claim.

But what if their 'anti-free market claim' helps them succeed in the marketplace by gaining publicity and building brand solidarity, building brand Quirky TM one revolutionary agit-prop action at a time?
posted by ennui.bz at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2013


i think this was a matter of punching downward and OXO fell for it. They should have ignored them.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:19 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lawyers aren't publicly involved because Quirky, as it admits, isn't making a legal argument. It seems to be trying to make an ethical argument - if your competitor is selling something, it's unethical to sell something similar.

Exactly, it is by definition a stunt on Quirky's part. Why is OXO giving them a wider audience by responding publicly, can't they seek some kind of injunction to have the billboard removed, if they even wanted to do anything at all?

You will say that OXO comes out looking better, if that is true they just got lucky. Metafilter isn't exactly a cross section of the populace either, who knows what normal people think .
posted by Ad hominem at 10:19 AM on January 27, 2013


Corporations using picketing and protests for publicity just makes me sick. They're using the methods of dissent in the service of corporate profit. What is next, Occupy OXO?

We need a new term for this sort of phony publicity stunt, something stronger than astroturfing.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Then it's hypocritical, because surely Quirky isn't the first company to try to sell its brand with anti-capitalist agit-prop action. By their argument it would be unethical for any company to do it after the first one does.

Why is OXO giving them a wider audience by responding publicly

Because OXO is speaking to a very narrow range of their market - the range of people who know about both OXO and Quirky. Note the fact that they try to position themselves as equals to Quirky, and even as friendly competitors - they're reframing the conversation. I don't think the majority of OXO customers care about this at all, so there's no real reason to be silent. Indeed, by pursuing legal action or remaining silent, they accept the narrative where they are the Imperium and Quirky is the band of renegades.
posted by muddgirl at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Quirky is probably trying to make themselves look good in the short term to their own participants; if you read their IP FAQ it's really clear that the true answer to the question "how is my IP protected after I submit to Quirky" is "it isn't, unless we think your idea is good enough to invest in."

It's a good plan. Internet outrage people are pretty sheepish - make yourself look good in the short-term, because in the long-term, people will have moved on to the next righteous cause.
posted by kafziel at 10:25 AM on January 27, 2013


they're reframing the conversation

Ok,I can accept they have PR experts who carefully considered the response, and in this case they may even be right, which helps their cause.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:29 AM on January 27, 2013


My Vileda Oskar dustpan and brush has (admittedly not very good) brush cleaning teeth on the side, and I've had it at least a decade. Where's Quirky's time machine?
posted by scruss at 10:30 AM on January 27, 2013


I strongly suspect that what happened here was the original Quirky inventor, Bill Ward, got wind of OXO's product and raised a stink among Quirky's participants, the vast majority of whom probably need to seriously read my long post above.

Quirky's FAQ is very weaselly and seems structured to hide rather than explain the risks an inventor takes on by submitting to an organizaiton like Quirky. (OXO's response explains this nicely.) Quirky is probably staging the whole stunt as a distraction to stave off what might turn into a substantial exodus of their own participants if they should realize how exposed they are under Quirky's business model.
posted by localroger at 10:32 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Note the fact that they try to position themselves as equals to Quirky, and even as friendly competitors

As I was reading OXOs response I had that little youtube video of the older dog showing the puppy how to get down the stairs playing in the back of my mind.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:59 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Yeah, normally I'd be all over this like Cory Doctorow over a commercially-appropriated Etsy steampunk accessory... That's pretty funny. When I first read this story, one of my first thoughts was "I bet this ends up on BB, spun as some kind of 'über-cool-makers-vs-evil-corporate-giant' rage-on"."
As soon as I read this on Metafilter, one of my first thoughts was, "I bet the usual suspects will find a way to make this about Cory."
posted by beschizza at 11:05 AM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


As soon as I read this on Metafilter, one of my first thoughts was, "I bet the usual suspects will find a way to make this about Cory."

Settle down Cory.
posted by bongo_x at 11:14 AM on January 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


No, that's not Cory, that's Rob. Note timestamp and lack of rage-on.
posted by maudlin at 11:18 AM on January 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought Quirky was a cool concept and I liked the community participation aspect, but this whole thing is really idiotic. OXO is clearly in the right here and their blow-by-blow on things Quirky has "imitated" from them is scathing.

It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how patents work, OR a desire to try to earn points by getting in the media acting counter-culture, but it's not an attractive look on Quirky, and I won't be buying their products.

OXO made a very human, very clear response and they came out looking better because of it.
posted by disillusioned at 12:13 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of Quirky, but reading their response to OXO disinclines to ever want to purchase anything from them. Pretty much all of what @localroger said.
posted by kjs3 at 12:45 PM on January 27, 2013


bongo_x: "They’re blocking my IP right now. I’m not sure why."

Not mine.

Of course, I went through seven proxies...
posted by Samizdata at 12:46 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


From Quirky's very squirrely FAQ:
What can I do if I think someone copied my idea submission or is infringing my IP?

If you think that someone is infringing your copyrights (e.g. using your original images or written expression without authorization), you can submit a DMCA takedown notice to Quirky according to the instructions set forth in the quirky.com Terms of Use. If you think that an idea submission is copying your idea submission, there are two steps you can take to notify Quirky: send an email to similar@quirky.com and/or post a link to your idea submission in the Product Comparison section of the idea submission in question.
Note the words I've bolded in the response. Quirky most certainly didn't bold them, and I think the reason is that this has been deliberately structured to deceive.

Obviously, the most important IP for a concern like Quirky and its participants is patent, since their trade is product ideas and you can't copyright an idea. But look what they did here -- they know people mostly don't know how patents really work or exactly how patents and copyright differ, and that most people have heard of copyright abuse and DMCA takedowns.

So instead of replying, accurately, "you don't really have any protection" they quietly shift from the meat of their business model, inventions, to things that can be copyrighted in a parenthetical whose importance is very easy to miss if you don't know this stuff already, and then they explain your mostly useless options for protecting that IP.

I find it very hard to believe they crafted this perfect feint accidentally.
posted by localroger at 12:52 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So many things pitched at Quirky are already in production that sometimes I wonder if their fan base/product designers live in dark caves.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:56 PM on January 27, 2013


I like OXO products. This response makes me appreciate them even more.
posted by Chuffy at 1:09 PM on January 27, 2013


i think this was a matter of punching downward and OXO fell for it. They should have ignored them.

I'd have done it--you don't want Quirky going for round 2 of this nonsense.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funnily enough, I'm looking for a new hamper. That OXO one linked in their response post looks pretty nifty--and yeah, their response was pretty nifty, too.
posted by librarylis at 1:20 PM on January 27, 2013


I've had a run-in with someone that claims to have invented something that I know has been done before and they bristled at the suggestion that I thought it wasn't a good idea... if it weren't over email I'm sure it would have ended in a dust-up between us. I can see how a site full of folks like that could get swept up in this kind of nonsense.
posted by glip at 1:27 PM on January 27, 2013


Wow, the Quirky FAQ is a masterpiece in weaselese. This part is particularly impressive:

Why does Quirky need to own all IP in idea submissions accepted for further development? Is this negotiable?

In order to successfully develop and commercialize a product, Quirky must devote significant resources and accept exposure to a multitude of legal risks. Quirky cannot sustain this level of investment and risk taking without having the ability to control the exploitation of IP embodied in its products. In return for ownership of IP in a commercialized product, Quirky pays the contributing user a perpetual royalty commensurate with the degree of contribution. Quirky does not negotiate this arrangement with its community of users.


In clear: we'll pay you whatever we think appropriate, and you'll shut up and cope. I have the feeling that OXO is being extremely charitable in its reply: Quirky knows perfectly well how intellectual property works, but its business model pretty much relies on its users not knowing...

On a side note, the one thing that intrigues me most about that sentence in the FAQ is the word "perpetual". Neither patents nor copyright are perpetual, never mind how much Disney would like to. Further searching in the Quirky website shows that by "perpetual" they mean "lifetime". But the specifics of how the royalty is paid (yearly? monthly? every ten years? at the end of each Mayan calendar cycle?) remain elusive. I get the feeling that, like those of many "inventor promotion companies" before them, Quirky's business model relies far more on extracting income from inventors that for them. At $10 per submission, this could very well be working as a simple pyramid scheme.
posted by Skeptic at 1:27 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've purchased several Quirky products for myself and as gifts, but this is definitely going to make me think twice about buying any more. Which is sad, because the actions of their petulant CEO don't necessarily speak for the inventors. On the other hand, I have kitchen drawers full of OXO stuff and I'm glad to learn that they seem genuinely cool.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:04 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, they blocked their IP from accessing their website. As an engineer I find that hard to believe, firstly figuring out the IP of some random person on the internet isn't that easy,

You have the IP address of everyone who visits your site in your logs. Maybe they noticed bad behavior from one user in particular - spamming feedback forms, fake reviews, or something similar - and blocked them. I'm just speculating though
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:14 PM on January 27, 2013


muddgirl: I can't decide if it's hypocritical or shortsighted for a for-profit company to make an essentially anti-free market ethical claim.

Actually, there are very few things that capitalists hate more than the free market. Seriously. They hate it! That's why there's always, always attempts afoot to restrict competition in various ways, usually via the government.

Competition helps the market as a whole, but it's very rough on the people competing. Always has been. Always will be. Nearly all capitalists would rather be given a niche they could exploit ruthlessly, forever.
posted by Malor at 2:17 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really like OXO products. I really want to like Quirky products, but almost every one of them has some kind of fatal design flaw that makes me not want to buy it. And its policies—and this salvo against OXO—are kind of suspect. Alas!
posted by limeonaire at 2:46 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if this technology has been available since before the First World War, why aren't all dustpans like this?!
because it's fairly pointless? The dust bunnies on a broom don't impede it's utility. In fact, if you did try to 'groom' them regularly you would probably tear off some of the fibers every once in a while - especially if you have an old-school one made with real straw - so actually it would probably make your broom deteriorate faster.
That's pretty funny. When I first read this story, one of my first thoughts was "I bet this ends up on BB, spun as some kind of 'über-cool-makers-vs-evil-corporate-giant' rage-on".


Seems like in general OXO is on the side of the "free information" patent/IP haters. Sometimes "little guy" patent trolls are just as bad as the huge corporations - in fact, they can be worse. The huge corporations usually ignore people "stealing" their ideas, they mostly use patents defensively - suing anyone who sues them.
That, the meme ready custom t shirts, the fact that OXO mentioned how many friends Quirky has on facebook, and the fact that neither Quirky nor OXO didn't just stfu and call their lawyers have led me to believe they are engaged in some sort of Andy Kaufmanesque corporate performance art.
Eh. OXO probably talked to their lawyers. But it seems like their case is so strong here that they don't really have to keep quiet. No doubt, their comment was made for PR value, it's unlikely that all that many people would have heard about it, and it probably wouldn't have damaged their brand.

Plus, they found a bunch of examples (much more then one) where Quirky ripped off OXO, meaning they not only exposed them as total failures, but also total hypocrites.
Exactly, it is by definition a stunt on Quirky's part. Why is OXO giving them a wider audience by responding publicly, can't they seek some kind of injunction to have the billboard removed, if they even wanted to do anything at all?
On what grounds? Obviously responding like this is the way to get the most benefit out of the situation. Doing nothing wouldn't get them any publicity and trying to sue to take down the poster? What's the point in that? That would just cause the " Barbra Streisand effect" and be a PR disaster for them, they really would become the "internet bad guys" I also don't even see how it would work. There's no law against calling someone derivative.
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2013


From the web response to the whole situation I'd say the OXO response was dead on brilliant. Quirky's management is probably feeling a bit dick-stomped right about now.
posted by localroger at 3:13 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quirky's response to Gizmodo just seems juvenile. I suppose they know better than to back down or appear contrite, but fuck 'em.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:46 PM on January 27, 2013


Wow, so busted.
posted by localroger at 6:19 PM on January 27, 2013


Actually, there are very few things that capitalists hate more than the free market.

Oh, absolutely. But they usually don't just come right out and say it so plainly. That's the short-sighted part. Successful companies silently stifle competition.
posted by muddgirl at 6:54 PM on January 27, 2013


Burhanistan: "Quirky's response to Gizmodo just seems juvenile. I suppose they know better than to back down or appear contrite, but fuck 'em."

ha ha, fuck these "Quirky" people.
posted by boo_radley at 6:56 PM on January 27, 2013


I like how OXO pointed out that they're about the same size as Quirky, undercutting any claims that Quirky is the underdog fighting against the corporate behemoth.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:20 PM on January 27, 2013


Seems like in general OXO is on the side of the "free information" patent/IP haters.

Er, no. For starters, they appear to understand the subject pretty well, which is generally not the case of the anti-patent crowd. Their response bears all the marks of having been written with at least the assistance of a rather good patent attorney. It's clear to me that they use the IP system routinely (as is to be expected, in a field full of cheap Chinese knockoffs), and that they consequently know what you can and can't do with it.
posted by Skeptic at 10:55 PM on January 27, 2013


I find just whacking the broom handle dislodges the sticky lint just fine...
posted by xjudson at 8:00 AM on January 28, 2013


xjudson, you clearly don't have two very hairy and sheddy Golden Retrievers. I was lamenting this problem just yesterday.
posted by tippiedog at 8:44 AM on January 28, 2013


i love oxo products so much.
posted by nadawi at 1:00 PM on January 28, 2013


Er, no. For starters, they appear to understand the subject pretty well, which is generally not the case of the anti-patent crowd.
What I mean is that in this particular argument, you would expect boing-boing and other anti-patent people to take their side, same as their being pro-Samsung in the Samsung apple fight. OXO probably takes whatever "side" of the issue makes them the most money at any particular point in time, I would imagine.

Also, there are plenty of lawyers who support the open-source anti-patent side. Aside from the ones who make their money litigating patents and obviously benefit from patents being as legally complicated and messy as possible, since it means more money for them.
posted by delmoi at 3:08 PM on January 29, 2013


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