Quirky Stands Strong Following Oxo’s Response.

Posted ago by Ben Kaufman

On Monday of last week we began to tell the world about Oxo’s replication of our community’s ‘Broom Groomer’ Concept. Coverage can be found here.

On Friday, Oxo Responded. That can be found here.


On Oxo’s Response:

Every day, thousands of legal notices are batted back and forth between companies around the world. Never do consumers (nor creatives) get to understand the full story behind what goes on.

We believe Quirky’s place in the universe is not just to deliver product, but to educate the world on what it takes to do so, and be successful in the long-term. This includes being very transparent about what goes on behind the four walls of our office.

Last week we took deliberate steps to change the way these types of squabbles are handled. A simple, low-trafficked blog post prompted a publicly traded company to respond quite loudly to our claims.

We can’t think of a time in recent history that a group so small has been taken so seriously by a company so big.

We view this as a huge step. It shows how carefully traditional consumer product brands are tracking the Quirky movement and our progress in disrupting the way the world of product design and development operates.

We are very proud of the public way we initiated this conversation, and remain very confident in the plans we have to provide justice to Bill Ward and our community of inventors.

On Our First Step:

Immediately upon learning of their upright sweep set, on November 26th of last year, Quirky’s CEO sent an email to  Alex Lee (Oxo’s CEO) inquiring about the item.

Alex did not respond, but curiously Quirky HQ’s IP was soon blocked from accessing the oxo.com website the very next day.

We viewed their actions as self-explanatory, and only after this point did we begin to make plans to act publicly.

On Intellectual Property:

Oxo’s colorful observations about Quirky’s approach to traditional intellectual property, including patents, are filled with misunderstandings about our process and intellectual property law.

Our true beliefs (and policies) are well depicted here: http://www.quirky.com/about/ip

On the 1919 Patent:

We didn’t bring patents into this conversation, Oxo did. We don’t feel a need to discuss whether Broom Groomer is patentable, because that distracts from what Oxo has actually done.

Oxo did not copy a 1919 patent when designing their dustpan… They cavalierly copied our product and are using an old patent (and the world’s general lack of understanding of intellectual property laws) to distract from the true conversation.

Oxo is best known for bringing ergonomics to peelers and other kitchen gadgets. This is a concept they pioneered in the same way Bill Ward and Quirky pioneered a dustpan that cleans your broom.

The concept of ergonomic peelers was not at all new when Oxo began doing business. Not surprisingly, a perusal of issued patents pre-dating Oxo’s existence turns up several patents resembling the form and function of Oxo’s widely recognized peeler.

Yet, if you walked into a store and saw a potato peeler with a giant black rubber grip – you’d probably say “that’s an Oxo ripoff.” This is basic consumer behavior. They get credit for pioneering a concept and making it viable in mass -  not for being the first to patent. We think this is fair.

Therefore, we believe it’s very important for the market to know who brought the concept of a commercially viable grooming dustpan to market.

We will not stand by quietly as Oxo attempts to use its larger size and resources to crowd out Quirky from building upon the intellectual capital it has worked so hard to establish.

It’s widely known that Oxo’s product development process (which leverages Smart Design, and other 3rd party design firms) takes about two years (almost exactly as long as our product has been available). Not 3/4 of a century. We don’t chalk this timing up to coincidence.

On The Path Forward:

Our objective here is to protect the interests of our creative community who entrust us with their intellectual capital.

Oxo’s objective is protecting their reputation by discrediting us and distracting from the true conversation around their actions.

We do not plan on further engaging in a tit for tat open letter writing campaign. We will continue to let our unique business model, innovative products, and the inventive way we go about protecting both of those things do the talking.

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