It's been a while since I've ruminated about The Life of an Inventor and small business owner - the joy, the ecstasy and yes, sometimes the PAIN of it all. I realize it's been three years since we talked about the trials and tribulations of having an idea and the cost of taking it through invention, patent and launch. The last few weeks however have pushed us more than most so it was time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
I don't really intend this to be a rant and I hope you don't take it as such but this week we dealt with a number of scenarios where someone saw one of our fabulous and very unique ideas and copied it and presented it as their own (grrrrr). We know their products are inferior whether it's a poor design or a ridiculously elevated price but it's still frustrating nonetheless.
The product that's been ripped off the most, of course, is our #1 product, the wine cap (the latest one we found out about today). We've taken well over 200 offenders off various platforms and boy, does it get tedious doing so. Sometimes we sarcastically joke that we've created streams of income for other, less upstanding humans but the bottom line is it makes our blood boil. Just this past week we got to one where the offender put his version up on a promotional website with a winery logo, he claimed he never printed. He even called it a CapaBunga® Cap (our trademark name) and then denied knowing we'd a patented product even though he's a local wine industry person (yeh and that's happened before too!) We believe you, thousands wouldn't.
The latest products to be blatantly and flagrantly copied are the Grocery and Market Totes. These are tough products to patent but these reproductions are so similar it's nearly laughable - hmm guess who is not laughing? 😠 One is being sold for over four times the price of ours and the other one is being sold for 2½ times ours. Their claim to the $300 plus price tag on their "Market Sac" is they choose to use real leather instead of being eco-conscious like we're trying to be. Can anyone say marketing spin??? The dimensions here are practically the same but the crazy part is the only change they made was moving the handles. When I asked Walt, the original designer, what he thought. His answer was "wouldn't that design make the center bow when it's not completely full?" I dunno but I know one thing I won't be buying anything from them.
Another annoying factor is that some of these folks can't even get creative enough to change up the color combos we launched - Check out the red and black combo to the right. I'm guessing that's because they have very little creativity themselves. Uh oh, I think I'm starting to sound bitter. REBOOT, REBOOT!
Ok, bear with me - there's only one more example.
The one below is actually the same price as ours if you use your 10% coupon. It was brought to our attention by a wonderful and very reputable retail partner in Oregon who was horrified at the blatant reproduction when it was first shown to her.
"So what's wrong here, those stripes are kind of nice?" I hear you say. Well, It doesn't have the vegan leather base so will probably topple over like most other bags. I do think the handles are too long so if you're a shorter person this bag could be hanging around your knees meaning your delicate produce and bottles will get smashed banging against your legs. Plus the bottom is going to get really dirty especially if you put it on wet or muddy grass. You can't just wipe it off like with ours.
Mea Culpa - I guess this was a bit of a rant but thanks for bearing with me to the end. Just like keeping a diary to process your feelings, this blog post was incredibly therapeutic and now I feel a little less annoyed. It's time to take a deep breath and go back to being creative and to working on our next innovative product - maybe we'll get the luxury of a few years before someone copies that.
Even though many companies have tried to copy our products, no one can match the quality and function of the originals. Thanks for listening, for praising our creativity and for supporting this small business 😘
Mea Culpa2 - we kept all offenders names out of this post but we did have to screenshot their imagery to share how they've so blatantly copied us.