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$345,000 in Two Months Ripping off a Product

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5 minutes ago, MRR said:

You cannot; at least the way things are now.  Just like the wagon industry tanked when automobiles became standard, or my father's travel agency never recovered from the internet, it might be time for a new model.

One thing is certain, nobody can steal quality.  A major company in my area, at least to my knowledge, does not patent any of their products.  They simply produce them far better than anyone else can and have no real competition at this time.

Yes, I agree. If you want cheap, you end up getting cheap. Customers of the product in the OP are not going to get any kind of warranty. . .

I hope that the USA can make quality products in high volume again.

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15 minutes ago, Lihu said:

I hope that the USA can make quality products in high volume again.

I do not.  Production no longer leads to all the jobs that it used to.  Automation results in fewer employees and with more consistent and usually higher quality.  Mass production also creates a lot of waste.  I love this country enough to hope that mass production can happen somewhere else and this great nation can find sources of revenue that do not have so many negative effects.

What I WOULD like to see is a continuation of society's seemingly newfound love for the kind of quality that can be achieved only through small shops and skill beyond a machine.  I've experienced the difference between a $90 pair of mass produced shoes and a $350 pair of Allen Edmonds.  The $350 pair is less expensive in the long run.

Your opinions may vary. :-)

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2 hours ago, Jeremie Boop said:

That's a bit disconcerting to me. The idea that people don't see a problem with ripping off ideas that others have put out there to make quick profits off of just shows how little ethics there are these days. "Hey, let me scroll through kickstarter to see what ideas are hot so I can steal them to make money" is just sad. I'm sure that it was something that happened previously, but I don't know that it was quite so easy to find products that are garnering decent to significant interest as it is these days with crowdfunding sites.

Seems strange that someone in your field would say something that could/would be considered IP theft is "cool, and inspiring". Of course, I'm not exactly versed in these types of things so it's possible I'm way off on my reaction here. Maybe this is just normal and expected. I just know that if it happened to me it would make me pretty upset.

I agree completely.  Seems like ripping off someone's idea to get ahead.

This seems very unethical and at the very least immoral to benefit from someone else's idea by "stealing it first."

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41 minutes ago, MRR said:

You cannot; at least the way things are now.  Just like the wagon industry tanked when automobiles became standard, or my father's travel agency never recovered from the internet, it might be time for a new model.

One thing is certain, nobody can steal quality.  A major company in my area, at least to my knowledge, does not patent any of their products.  They simply produce them far better than anyone else can and have no real competition at this time.

Correct. The company I work for works on this model. We have IP that we never patented and is known industry knowledge but we maintain the finished product quality which even if 'duplicated' for a while is practically impossible to sustain year after year. Turns out it is the best defense.

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3 hours ago, MRR said:

I do not.  Production no longer leads to all the jobs that it used to.  Automation results in fewer employees and with more consistent and usually higher quality.  Mass production also creates a lot of waste.  I love this country enough to hope that mass production can happen somewhere else and this great nation can find sources of revenue that do not have so many negative effects.

Actually, I build robots and equipment (robots) that build the robots. :-D

However, across any society, not everyone is capable of high level work or management type of roles. We've seen this the past 12 years or so.

Mass production is the hallmark of a strong economy. IP can be stolen in a heartbeat as we've seen by example. The ability to create designs day after day and solve peoples problems along with the ability to "mass produce" them is the future.

If you look at the small arms industry that grew to outrageous proportions during an era when guns were all but made illegal, it demonstrates the ability for Americans to produce high quality equipment in combined mass volumes within small to mid sized businesses all over the country.

When there's a need, there are many people who can fill that need and at a reasonable cost even here in the United States. Modern mass production in the sense that we know it is probably not going to be done so much here, but massive amounts of high quality production can exist here.

You are correct about creation of waste. That's why many additive methods are building prototypes and limited production items. If additive production can be used for high quality items, then the waste and energy consumption would be minimal. This is one technology where the United States can and should be a leader.

 

Quote

What I WOULD like to see is a continuation of society's seemingly newfound love for the kind of quality that can be achieved only through small shops and skill beyond a machine.  I've experienced the difference between a $90 pair of mass produced shoes and a $350 pair of Allen Edmonds.  The $350 pair is less expensive in the long run.

Your opinions may vary. :-)

Yes, this is the other thing that Americans have been traditionally good at. The products that we make with pride are definitely worth the extra money. You can hand make some pretty shabby stuff, but we're looking at rebuilding our ability to make high quality things that other people can't with modern mass production.

 

2 hours ago, GolfLug said:

Correct. The company I work for works on this model. We have IP that we never patented and is known industry knowledge but we maintain the finished product quality which even if 'duplicated' for a while is practically impossible to sustain year after year. Turns out it is the best defense.

Yeah, taking pride in making a good product and standing behind it is definitely something that won't go away.

 

3 hours ago, Yukari said:

I agree completely.  Seems like ripping off someone's idea to get ahead.

This seems very unethical and at the very least immoral to benefit from someone else's idea by "stealing it first."

Unfortunately, ever since the 1940s and 1950s people stole ideas with great regularity. It started with the arms race, and ended up pervading the toy industry then finally all industries.

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Wow... you mean to tell me that everything I learned about patents in 5th grade is no longer relevant?  

It's an unfortunate side-effect of consumerism.  The battles between Samsung & Apple are prime examples.  

Apple wanted to patent the home button on their phones and tablets.  Samsung worked around it by changing the style of their home button.  If this guy changed the smallest of things... it suddenly becomes 'more' legal... or at least legal enough to make a quick profit off of until it gets hung up in the court system.  

Someone else said it earlier... it's dirty, and sleazy and morally disgusting.  Those same words are used to describe business as a whole.

It sucks and... as @jamo said... "Jack" is a dick.  Now he's just a "wealthier-than-he-was" dick.

CY

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33 minutes ago, Fairway_CY said:

Apple wanted to patent the home button on their phones and tablets.  Samsung worked around it by changing the style of their home button.

There was a lot more to it than that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc._v._Samsung_Electronics_Co.

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1 hour ago, Fairway_CY said:

Wow... you mean to tell me that everything I learned about patents in 5th grade is no longer relevant?  

It's an unfortunate side-effect of consumerism.  The battles between Samsung & Apple are prime examples.  

Apple wanted to patent the home button on their phones and tablets.  Samsung worked around it by changing the style of their home button.  If this guy changed the smallest of things... it suddenly becomes 'more' legal... or at least legal enough to make a quick profit off of until it gets hung up in the court system.  

Someone else said it earlier... it's dirty, and sleazy and morally disgusting.  Those same words are used to describe business as a whole.

 

It depends upon the specific claims. To obtain a patent, you really need to get specific in your claims. That's why it's so easy to design around patents.

It happens all the time. Sometimes the company that files the patent doesn't even own the technology yet. The patent law is based upon the first to file, not the first to invent.

 

1 hour ago, Fairway_CY said:

It sucks and... as @jamo said... "Jack" is a dick.  Now he's just a "wealthier-than-he-was" dick.

CY

Most dicks become rich dicks, because they're dicks. :-D

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On 1/31/2017 at 9:08 PM, iacas said:

Oh, I know... I was just using that one instance as a point.  I work for Samsung and I previously worked for Apple, so... unfortunately, I'm well versed on the 'stories' from both sides.  

:-\

CY

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This is where my last company had so many issues. We would innovate something and China would dupe it after a few years. We innovated the automatic 4 wheel drive actuator but no longer have that business because China duped it. We innovated an electric power steering unit that, guess what, is going to China for a cheaper unit that won't last as long. The automakers only care that the part outlasts the warranty, so they are OK with that as long as they squeeze a few more dollars out of a car that they are over-charging for. The only products that were truly safe were the military parts that the US government required a domestic supplier for.

On the flip side, we would buy materials from Chinese suppliers at a fraction of the cost. Making a buck is the only thing that matters these days...

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2 hours ago, Fairway_CY said:

Oh, I know... I was just using that one instance as a point.  I work for Samsung and I previously worked for Apple, so... unfortunately, I'm well versed on the 'stories' from both sides.  

:-\

CY

 

Not surprised, I kind of figured you were somehow involved with this technology based upon some of your other posts. We have a couple ex-Apple SW engineers here too.

 

1 hour ago, CarlSpackler said:

This is where my last company had so many issues. We would innovate something and China would dupe it after a few years. We innovated the automatic 4 wheel drive actuator but no longer have that business because China duped it. We innovated an electric power steering unit that, guess what, is going to China for a cheaper unit that won't last as long. The automakers only care that the part outlasts the warranty, so they are OK with that as long as they squeeze a few more dollars out of a car that they are over-charging for. The only products that were truly safe were the military parts that the US government required a domestic supplier for.

On the flip side, we would buy materials from Chinese suppliers at a fraction of the cost. Making a buck is the only thing that matters these days...

As we discussed at an outing before, I designed your last company's motors into all the prototypes and specified them in the BOM. When we got the first engineering build back, they used some knockoff of unknown "brand" name :hmm: The first two batches prematurely died because they didn't copy your commutator technology well enough. They ended up copying that in the third build. That's when my argument to use the original motors went bye bye. :~(

Companies that build commodity items like motors are not going to compete with China. You're better off using those commodities in your products. Expect a product life of less than a year before there's some knockoff made, unless you can make them high enough quality with enough technology that it would cost more to do it in China. The other possibility is if the volumes are not high enough to interest them.

Basically, you'll never compete with China with mass volume items. Their toolmakers*** are getting as good as anywhere in the world primarily because they've hired many of our best toolmakers, who are teaching the art to young and smart Chinese engineers. They're in China because our companies started producing stuff in China, and there are basically no jobs here. Same goes for Europe. I've met quite a few of ex-pats in China.

***Toolmakers are among the highest class of machinists and highly experienced mechanical engineers that know how to design around mold shrinkage and design very precise parts with plastic. Solving shrinkage problems is >50% of the design.

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The parts that I referenced above are speacialty motors that are customer specific applications. They are smart in that they can think and react. I certainly understand when it comes to generic motors that do a basic function. There is plenty of domestic competition too. The deals we win are the ones where the engineer has more pull. If the accountants are calling the shots, it's never going to happen or last. We actually busted one company for taking our prototype to China to have it copied. We get royalties for every one sold, but we could have employed quite a few people building and supporting that program. 

I guess when I say "we", I mean "they" since I don't work there any longer. 

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36 minutes ago, CarlSpackler said:

The parts that I referenced above are speacialty motors that are customer specific applications. They are smart in that they can think and react. I certainly understand when it comes to generic motors that do a basic function. There is plenty of domestic competition too. The deals we win are the ones where the engineer has more pull. If the accountants are calling the shots, it's never going to happen or last. We actually busted one company for taking our prototype to China to have it copied. We get royalties for every one sold, but we could have employed quite a few people building and supporting that program. 

I guess when I say "we", I mean "they" since I don't work there any longer. 

Yeah, sure.

However, I don't think being more sophisticated is enough. I'm sure other people will be able to eventually duplicate any product.

Busting every company is going to be very expensive, and the legal fees might outpace any ROI for legal action.

Plus, something like the OP product is relatively easy to produce, so it is more easily copied. Plus the tools were made in China, so a few $ will allow other people to by exact copies of the tools. Not a good business strategy.

Fast design cycles along with quality and customer service are what differentiates products. Stay ahead and provide quality.

I think the US can outpace anyone in innovation and quality.

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56 minutes ago, Lihu said:

However, I don't think being more sophisticated is enough. I'm sure other people will be able to eventually duplicate any product.

Busting every company is going to be very expensive, and the legal fees might outpace any ROI for legal action.

Plus, something like the OP product is relatively easy to produce, so it is more easily copied. Plus the tools were made in China, so a few $ will allow other people to by exact copies of the tools. Not a good business strategy.

Fast design cycles along with quality and customer service are what differentiates products. Stay ahead and provide quality.

I think the US can outpace anyone in innovation and quality.

...and should thus be rewarded by long term success, but they are only able to capitalize in a short term fashion. You have WIPO which should be intervening. I'm not sure that organization has ever really done anything. 

I pitched the idea a long time ago that they should be selling engineering services in motion control. That is where I see the money, that and licensing certain technologies that have been developed. 

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3 minutes ago, CarlSpackler said:

...and should thus be rewarded by long term success, but they are only able to capitalize in a short term fashion. You have WIPO which should be intervening. I'm not sure that organization has ever really done anything. 

That's the pace the toy industry experienced and still experiences. You don't get to sit on your success anymore, an engineer has to keep on innovating and making new designs until retirement.

 

3 minutes ago, CarlSpackler said:

I pitched the idea a long time ago that they should be selling engineering services in motion control. That is where I see the money, that and licensing certain technologies that have been developed. 

Many end users are doing this anyway. Control systems are very well understood even at the college level. Some hobbyists are learning to do this at the high school level thanks in part to open source.

I'm not sure how much money can be made with that model unless you solve specific solutions. That's kind of like a consulting company. IDK what the model was at your old company, but consulting is very different from making products. Maybe that's the future? IDK.

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7 minutes ago, Lihu said:

That's the pace the toy industry experienced and still experiences. You don't get to sit on your success anymore, an engineer has to keep on innovating and making new designs until retirement.

Many end users are doing this anyway. Control systems are very well understood even at the college level. Some hobbyists are learning to do this at the high school level thanks in part to open source.

I'm not sure how much money can be made with that model unless you solve specific solutions. That's kind of like a consulting company. IDK what the model was at your old company, but consulting is very different from making products. Maybe that's the future? IDK.

There's s difference between designing toys and major components for a car or utility vehicle that are safety related. If you cut corners, you end up in the boat that Takata is in today or Samsung. I wonder what the outcome will be when the cheap shafts in the knockoffs break. No more steering. They dumped a ton of manpower and scrap material into designing that shaft to get it right only to have another company steal the design. 

They are centered around engineering for their own manufacturing capabilities. The engineers could do stuff that others have not been able to. They designed a motor to make an 18 wheeler shift like an automatic. Nobody believed that the torque-speed ratio could be achieved. When you hire the brightest engineers in the world, it sucks to see your designs being stolen. 

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2 hours ago, CarlSpackler said:

There's s difference between designing toys and major components for a car or utility vehicle that are safety related. If you cut corners, you end up in the boat that Takata is in today or Samsung.

Cheap components are even pervasive in the automotive industry. Not that cheap though. The car as a whole, must pass pretty strict government regulations. Consumers also are very critical and can report problems.

What I meant by my comments about quality is standing behind the product and customer service. Cheap stuff is the way people are manufacturing things these days. If not for cost then the culprit is bleeding edge technology.

What really differentiates a product is the company behind it.

 

Quote

I wonder what the outcome will be when the cheap shafts in the knockoffs break. No more steering. They dumped a ton of manpower and scrap material into designing that shaft to get it right only to have another company steal the design. 

I don't know what to say about this other than the fact that knockoff brands for cars have been around for a long time now. Overall, consumers usually weed out the bad ones. Sure, I'd hate to be the one who has a knockoff pinion or something else break on me. So, I generally only purchase critical components from the brand X maker or OEM.

 

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When you hire the brightest engineers in the world, it sucks to see your designs being stolen. 

Some companies hire the smartest engineers to reverse engineer stuff too. Happens all the time, and it's been happening since the start of the industrial revolution becoming more pervasive in the 1940s and 1950s.

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