Certainly one of Australia’s most celebrated modern inventors will lock horns with an alleged copycat that states to be get yourself ready for a worldwide launch.
Flow Hive developed a hive that allows honey to flow the front into collection jars, representing the 1st modernisation in how beekeepers collect honey. It took a decade to produce.
Alleged copycat Tapcomb is undertaking an extensive social media advertising campaign claiming to become the world’s first truly bee-friendly tappable hive, contacting flow hive via Facebook retargeting.
Tapcomb has also adopted similar phrases like being “gentle on bees” and offering beekeepers “honey on tap”. However, it told MySmallBusiness there are substantial differences between your two hive producers.
Flow Hive co-inventor Cedar Anderson said Flow Hives are patented around the world. His lawyers are already unable to uncover patents for Tapcomb.
“The frame they show within their marketing video appears similar to cheap Chinese copies we’ve seen, which we believe infringes on many areas 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 through the comb, which is precisely what they’re claiming being bringing to market first. It looks similar to 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 a lot more than $13 million. The campaign set out to improve $100,000, but astonished including the inventors when it raised $2.18 million within the first one day.
Flow Hives have since been adopted by beekeepers in than 100 countries and boasts a lot more than 40,000 customers, mostly within australia and the US. The organization now employs 40 staff.
Tapcomb, however, claims its hive design being substantially different, conceding the dimensions are like Flow Hive.
“Very much like lightbulbs, the differentiator is in the internal workings which are the foundation for product quality and intellectual property,” US director of parent company Beebot Inc, Tom Kuhn says.
It feels like someone has stolen something out of your house and you’ve got to deal with it even when you really just want to hop on with doing a job you’re extremely keen about.
Tapcomb hives are tested by beekeepers in Tasmania, Britain, Hong Kong and Greece, he says. “We want to launch Tapcomb worldwide as a way to provide consumers a choice of products.”
However, Anderson says the interior workings of Tapcomb look like similar to an earlier Flow Hive prototype, adding that his patent covers the moving parts regardless of their depth within the hive.
Tapcomb lists its office address as Portland, Oregon, where beekeeping equipment also offers 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 is trying to find a manufacturer. “What is important for us is maximum quality at an agreeable price point.”
This isn’t the first apparent copycat Flow Hive has experienced to tackle, with strikingly similar products listed available for purchase on various websites.
“There has been a lot of lousy Chinese fakes, and it’s sad to discover other people get caught in the trap of buying copies, just to be disappointed with bad quality,” Anderson says.
“Any inventor that develops a whole new product which has brought off worldwide has got to expect opportunistic people to attempt to take market share. Obviously, there are always individuals prepared to undertake this kind of illegal activity for financial gain.
“It seems like someone has stolen something out of your house and you’ve got to manage it even when you really only want to jump on with carrying out a job you’re extremely excited about.”
Asserting ownership of IP rights for example 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 terms of theft of property rights, even though the Chinese government is taking steps to improve its IP environment.
“Chinese counterfeiters are usually mobile, elusive and don’t have any regard for 3rd party trade mark or some other proprietary rights. They can be usually well funded and well advised, and hivve great at covering their tracks, making it hard 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 in the week.
Mulvany has previously waged a social media marketing campaign against Australia’s largest honey producer, Capilano, accusing it of selling “toxic” imported honey and then for using misleading labelling.
“I sense of an Australian beekeeper and inventor who has done so well and is also now facing the possibilities of having his profits skimmed by this profiteering Chinese cowboy no-one has ever heard of.
“As an inventor, self harvesting bee hive will always be improving his product, and people need to understand that the initial will almost always be superior to a duplicate.”