One among Australia’s most celebrated modern inventors will lock horns with the alleged copycat that states to be getting yourself ready for a worldwide launch.
Flow Hive created a hive that allows honey to circulate the front into collection jars, representing the first modernisation in how beekeepers collect honey. It took a decade to formulate.
Alleged copycat Tapcomb is undertaking an extensive social networking campaign claiming being the world’s first truly bee-friendly tappable hive, contacting flow beehive via Facebook retargeting.
Tapcomb has adopted similar phrases such as being “gentle on bees” and offering beekeepers “honey on tap”. However, it told MySmallBusiness there are substantial differences involving the two hive producers.
Flow Hive co-inventor Cedar Anderson said Flow Hives are patented worldwide. His lawyers are already not able to uncover patents for Tapcomb.
“The frame they show within their marketing video appears just like cheap Chinese copies we’ve seen, which we believe infringes on many elements of the Flow Hive intellectual property. Where necessary, we are going to attempt to enforce our intellectual property rights decisively,” Anderson says.
“Our patent covers cells that split and honey that drains throughout the comb, which is exactly what they’re claiming to be bringing to advertise first. It seems similar to a blatant patent infringement to me,” he says.
Flow Hive made global headlines when its crowdfunding bid broke all fundraising records on platform Indiegogo, raising more than $13 million. The campaign lay out to improve $100,000, but astonished including the inventors whenever it raised $2.18 million inside the first round the clock.
Flow Hives have since been adopted by beekeepers in than 100 countries and boasts greater than 40,000 customers, mostly australia wide along with the US. The organization now employs 40 staff.
Tapcomb, however, claims its hive design being substantially different, conceding that the dimensions act like Flow Hive.
“Similar to lightbulbs, the differentiator is with the internal workings which are the basis for product quality and intellectual property,” US director of parent company Beebot Inc, Tom Kuhn says.
It feels as though someone has stolen something out of your house and you’ve got to handle it even when you really would like to hop on with performing a job you’re extremely passionate about.
Tapcomb hives are now being tested by beekeepers in Tasmania, Britain, Hong Kong and Greece, he says. “We intend to launch Tapcomb worldwide as a way to provide consumers a choice of products.”
However, Anderson says the inner workings of Tapcomb seem to be much like an early Flow Hive prototype, adding that his patent covers the moving parts no matter their depth inside the hive.
Tapcomb lists its office address as Portland, Oregon, where beekeeping equipment also provides basics. An address search reveals a residential townhouse that bought from late January. Other online searches list Tapcomb for being Hong Kong-based.
Kuhn says they have filed for patents in the usa, Australia, Hong Kong, China and India. He would not reveal pricing and said he or she is hunting for a manufacturer. “The biggest thing for people is maximum quality in an agreeable price point.”
This isn’t the initial apparent copycat Flow Hive has experienced to tackle, with strikingly similar products listed for sale on various websites.
“There has been a lot of very poor Chinese fakes, and it’s sad to discover others fall into the trap of purchasing copies, just to be disappointed with sub-standard,” Anderson says.
“Any inventor that develops a whole new product which has brought off around the world must expect opportunistic people to try and take market share. Of course, there will always be individuals out there prepared to undertake this kind of illegal activity for financial gain.
“It seems like someone has stolen something from the house and you’ve got to manage it while you really simply want to hop on with performing a job you’re extremely passionate about.”
Asserting ownership of IP rights such as patents, trade marks and fashoins and obtaining appropriate relief could be a challenging exercise for inventors, Wrays patent attorney Andrew Butler says.
“It can be difficult to have legal relief during these scenarios. China is pretty much the Wild West in relation to theft of property rights, however the Chinese government has brought steps to boost its IP environment.
“Chinese counterfeiters tend to be mobile, elusive and don’t have regard for alternative party trade mark or other proprietary rights. These are usually well funded and well advised, and hivve great at covering their tracks, making it tough to identify the perpetrators or obtain satisfactory legal outcomes.”
Australian beekeeper Simon Mulvany ousted Tapcomb for allegedly copying Flow Hive’s design on his Save the Bees Facebook page this week.
Mulvany has previously waged a social websites campaign against Australia’s largest honey producer, Capilano, accusing it of selling “toxic” imported honey and also for using misleading labelling.
“I feel for an Australian beekeeper and inventor who has done very well and is now facing the possibilities of having his profits skimmed by this profiteering Chinese cowboy no-one has ever read about.
“As an inventor, self harvesting bee hive will always be improving his product, and folks need to remember that the first will always be superior to a copy.”