It's just not easy doing business these days. Even when you constantly try and do the right thing, play by the rules, do everything you can to make the world a better place and treat your customers and employees like you would like to be treated, someone comes along and attacks everything you have worked so hard for.
OXO, a wonderful, ethical company that is known for it's ingenious products and ideas sent me an email today about a competitor that is accusing them of stealing a product idea and proceeded to put up a billboard stating these charges 2 blocks from the OXO corporate office. The CEO of Quirky - Ben Kaufman then staged a picket line outside of OXO to draw attention to their charges.
I guess they didn't realize that OXO doesn't only have smart designs, they are also really smart about marketing and intellectual property. They have been very supportive of the blogger community and came to us with the facts on this matter - all very well researched and stated.
It turns out that Quirky never went to OXO to voice their concerns and allegations even though the companies are within blocks of each other in NYC. When the President of OXO Alex Lee met with Quirky CEO in 2012 about product design and innovation Lee asked Kaufman "what steps Quirky took to protect the intellectual property (IP) of this broad community when inventors submit their idea in an open and public forum". Kaufman responded "Nothing. Speed to market is our best protection."
Almost every day I find another person or company that is using my trademarked term Lifestylist®. I spent a lot of time and money almost 15 years ago to trademark the term because I believed in it and wanted to protect it in the right way - legally. I've trademarked other terms and uses since then and it amazes me how many people never search the US Patent and Trademark records to see if a term they want to use is trademarked before they tie it to their brand.
So I am going to do for OXO what I hope other people will do for me. I'm going to share the OXO story, and I'm going to buy their products and support their brand. How we spend our hard earned dollars is the easiest way to let a company know what you think about their business practices and products. Up until now I have never heard of Quirky, but in the future I won't be spending a dime on any of their products just on principle.
OXO did a beautiful job of addressing this issue in social media and it is well worth reading. And leave it to them to change this into a positive - they are offering to give a "Patent Process Primer" to anyone interested so you can learn the correct way to protect your own intellectual property.
It's really easy for anyone to write anything these days whether it's right or wrong, and the responsibility of the blogging and social media community to bring to light injustices such as this. I really appreciate OXO sharing this important lesson with all of us and showing us how to protect our own intellectual property.