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07-11-2012, 12:32 AM #21
FiiO - X-PROTECTOR . This momentum case seems like a copy of a copy. Bummer.
07-11-2012, 10:49 PM #22
As for the X-Protector, Fiio is simply a reseller of an earlier version of the case which the factory had attempted to market.
As for how we came into the fold, while working with that factory on another product, knowing we were focusing on products for Apple, they approached us and asked if we too would like to become a reseller for the X-Protector. But when I looked at its design, there were too many issues with it which kept me from wanting to associate it with my company.
But I liked the concept and offered to work with them to refine it into something better, and they agreed, so over the next several months we created several iterations of the design until we came up with something I was proud to associate with Inertial, and the end result is what you see here, The Momentum. It addresses all of the fatal flaws of the X-Protector. You can see this by purchasing one of theirs (or just looking closely at its design in photos), then The Momentum and you will see vast improvements in the latter in usability, comfort, signal loss and overall quality.
As for Graft's Leverage, we actually didn't find out about them until *after* we had already launched on Kickstarter. As soon as we did, I personally reached out to the principles at Graft by both phone and email (copies of which were kept for legal reasons) and attempted to address the issue head-on. We even notified Kickstarter directly of Graft ourselves. And of course, we immediately contacted the factory and asked them for clarification because they were so similar in design.
As soon as we contacted the factory about this issue, they immediately provided us a copy of a valid, issued patent for the design.
With this new information, I reached back out to Graft asking them to comment.
More importantly, even though I had the factory's patent in-hand backing up their claim of ownership, out of respect from one start-up to another, I still made the offer to Graft's owners that if they too had filed for a patent prior to our launch, even if it wouldn't hold up against the factory's patent, we, Inertial, would immediately halt production of The Momentum without challenging it. That's just not who we are. I even explained to Graft I know how difficult it is being a start-up, and offered to team up--again patent unseen--to work together to resolve this.
However, Graft declined our offer to work together. Still, I again made the offer if they could provide any proof there may be an issue with the factory's claims that the design was theirs, not Grafts, anything at all, again, we would halt production. I even halted the production at the factory while this was happening, at our expense (factories don't like when you hold up their production lines) to give Graft a chance to reply.
However, to this day they have still not replied back.
Considering the factory has provided a valid, issued patent, and Graft hasn't even replied, let alone provided notice one had even been filed, let alone issued, this leads me to believe that the design is owned by the factory as claimed. For all we know, perhaps the factory approached Graft before us, and that led to the competing designs, but that's pure speculation and again, Graft still has not responded so there's no way we can know for sure.
What I do know however is the law dictates if you don't actively defend your IP, especially when challenged, then you risk losing protection, so we can't think of any reason Graft would choose simply not to reply if they were protected and we notified them directly, several times of our design and were moving forward, especially when we offered to halt if they had provided any proof of protection from their side, no legal challenge needed.
Additionally, it is illegal for a company or entity to claim patent protection when they have not filed for such protection. Not only can they be fined by the government for making such false claims, but it opens them up to being sued for a declaratory judgment and possibly damages should such statements affect the business who has legal right to use such a patent.
To be clear, to this date, Graft has not once claimed to us they have even filed for, let alone been issued a patent for the hinge design, even in a provisional status.
For the record, copies of all of the exchanges between Graft, myself and the factory and of course the patent itself have all been kept for legal reasons, should we need them.
That said, the offer to Graft still stands. Graft, if you are reading this, again, if you can provide any proof whatsoever that a patent for the design was filed before we launched, regardless of the existence of the patent I have a copy of, we will gladly halt future production of The Momentum. My brand is more valuable than a simple case and as such, I wouldn't risk it over something like this. We're both start-ups. But again, we can't simply walk away without some kind of proof, and to this day, the factory, not you are the only ones who have provided anything legal so that's what we have to stand by.
Hope this clears things up.
Inertial Design, Inc.
Last edited by MarqueIV; 07-12-2012 at 01:00 AM.
07-12-2012, 08:30 AM #23