Among Australia’s most celebrated modern inventors will lock horns with the alleged copycat that promises to be getting yourself ready for a worldwide launch.
Flow Hive designed a hive which allows honey to flow the front into collection jars, representing the initial modernisation in how beekeepers collect honey. It took a decade to formulate.
Alleged copycat Tapcomb is undertaking an extensive social media marketing campaign claiming being the world’s first truly bee-friendly tappable hive, contacting flow hive via Facebook retargeting.
Tapcomb has also adopted similar phrases including being “gentle on bees” and offering beekeepers “honey on tap”. However, it told MySmallBusiness there are actually substantial differences in between the two hive producers.
Flow Hive co-inventor Cedar Anderson said Flow Hives are patented around the world. His lawyers are already not able to uncover patents for Tapcomb.
“The frame they show with their marketing video appears just like cheap Chinese copies we’ve seen, which we think infringes on many aspects of the Flow Hive intellectual property. Where necessary, we shall seek to enforce our intellectual property rights decisively,” Anderson says.
“Our patent covers cells that split and honey that drains with the comb, which is precisely what they’re claiming to become bringing to market first. It seems like a blatant patent infringement if you ask me,” he says.
Flow Hive made global headlines when its crowdfunding bid broke all fundraising records on platform Indiegogo, raising greater than $13 million. The campaign lay out to improve $100,000, but astonished even the inventors when it raised $2.18 million inside the first 24 hours.
Flow Hives have since been adopted by beekeepers in more than 100 countries and boasts greater than 40,000 customers, mostly in Australia along with the US. The organization now employs 40 staff.
Tapcomb, however, claims its hive design being substantially different, conceding how the dimensions are like Flow Hive.
“Very much like lightbulbs, the differentiator is incorporated in the internal workings that happen to be the cornerstone for product quality and intellectual property,” US director of parent company Beebot Inc, Tom Kuhn says.
It is like someone has stolen something through your house and you’ve got to manage it even when you really would like to hop on with doing a job you’re extremely passionate about.
Tapcomb hives are tested by beekeepers in Tasmania, Britain, Hong Kong and Greece, he says. “We decide to launch Tapcomb worldwide to be able to provide consumers a choice of products.”
However, Anderson says the inner workings of Tapcomb look like much like an earlier Flow Hive prototype, adding that his patent covers the moving parts regardless of their depth inside of the hive.
Tapcomb lists its office address as Portland, Oregon, where self tapping beehive even offers a base. An address search reveals a residential townhouse that available in late January. Other online searches list Tapcomb for being Hong Kong-based.
Kuhn says he has filed for patents in america, Australia, Hong Kong, China and India. He would not reveal pricing and said he or she is looking for a manufacturer. “The biggest thing for people is maximum quality in an agreeable price point.”
This isn’t the first apparent copycat Flow Hive has had to tackle, with strikingly similar products listed available for sale on various websites.
“There have been a lot of very poor Chinese fakes, and it’s sad to view other folks fall under the trap of purchasing copies, just to be disappointed with bad quality,” Anderson says.
“Any inventor that develops a whole new product which is taking off worldwide has got to expect opportunistic people to attempt to take market share. Needless to say, there will always be people able to undertake this type of illegal activity for financial gain.
“It is like someone has stolen something from your house and you’ve got to deal with it even if you really would like to hop on with doing a job you’re extremely passionate about.”
Asserting ownership of IP rights for example patents, trade marks and designs and obtaining appropriate relief can be quite a challenging exercise for inventors, Wrays patent attorney Andrew Butler says.
“It can be difficult to have legal relief within these scenarios. China is really the Wild West with regards to theft of property rights, even though the Chinese government has brought steps to improve its IP environment.
“Chinese counterfeiters are usually mobile, elusive and don’t have any regard for 3rd party trade mark or any other proprietary rights. They can be usually well funded and well advised, and hivve great at covering their tracks, so that it is challenging to identify the perpetrators or perhaps to 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 networking campaign against Australia’s largest honey producer, Capilano, accusing it of selling “toxic” imported honey and for using misleading labelling.
“I feel for an Australian beekeeper and inventor who may have done so well which is now facing the prospect of having his profits skimmed through this profiteering Chinese cowboy no-one has ever read about.
“As being an inventor, self harvesting bee hive will almost always be improving his product, and people need to remember that the first will definitely be superior to a copy.”