Among Australia’s most celebrated modern inventors will lock horns with the alleged copycat that promises to be preparing for a global launch.
Flow Hive developed a hive that enables honey to flow out the front into collection jars, representing the initial modernisation in the way beekeepers collect honey. It took ten years to formulate.
Alleged copycat Tapcomb is undertaking an extensive social media campaign claiming to get the world’s first truly bee-friendly tappable hive, contacting flow frame via Facebook retargeting.
Tapcomb has also adopted similar phrases for example being “gentle on bees” and offering beekeepers “honey on tap”. However, it told MySmallBusiness there are actually substantial differences between your two hive producers.
Flow Hive co-inventor Cedar Anderson said Flow Hives are patented worldwide. His lawyers have been struggling to uncover patents for Tapcomb.
“The frame they show within their marketing video appears comparable to cheap Chinese copies we’ve seen, which we believe infringes on many facets of the Flow Hive intellectual property. Where necessary, we shall aim 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 to be bringing to advertise first. It appears like a blatant patent infringement in my opinion,” he says.
Flow Hive made global headlines when its crowdfunding bid broke all fundraising records on platform Indiegogo, raising over $13 million. The campaign lay out to raise $100,000, but astonished the inventors in the event it raised $2.18 million within the first 24 hours.
Flow Hives have since been adopted by beekeepers in more than 100 countries and boasts a lot more than 40,000 customers, mostly australia wide and also the US. The organization now employs 40 staff.
Tapcomb, however, claims its hive design to get substantially different, conceding that this dimensions are like Flow Hive.
“Similar to lightbulbs, the differentiator is incorporated in the internal workings that happen to be the premise for product quality and intellectual property,” US director of parent company Beebot Inc, Tom Kuhn says.
It seems like someone has stolen something from your house and you’ve got to handle it even when you really just want to jump on with carrying out a job you’re extremely passionate about.
Tapcomb hives are now being tested by beekeepers in Tasmania, Britain, Hong Kong and Greece, he says. “We intend to launch Tapcomb worldwide to be able to provide consumers a choice of products.”
However, Anderson says the internal workings of Tapcomb appear to be much like a young Flow Hive prototype, adding that his patent covers the moving parts irrespective of their depth in the hive.
Tapcomb lists its office address as Portland, Oregon, where beekeeping supplier also has a base. An address search reveals a residential townhouse that sold in late January. Other online searches list Tapcomb for being Hong Kong-based.
Kuhn says he has declared patents in america, Australia, Hong Kong, China and India. He would not reveal pricing and said he or she is trying to find a manufacturer. “The main thing for all of us is maximum quality with an agreeable price point.”
This isn’t the first apparent copycat Flow Hive has already established to tackle, with strikingly similar products listed available for purchase on various websites.
“There were lots of lousy Chinese fakes, and it’s sad to find out other folks fall into the trap of getting copies, simply to be disappointed with bad quality,” Anderson says.
“Any inventor that develops a fresh item that has brought off around the world must expect opportunistic people to try and take market share. Needless to say, you will always find people able to undertake this sort of illegal activity for financial gain.
“It is like someone has stolen something from the house and you’ve got to deal with it even when you really just want to get on with carrying out a job you’re extremely passionate about.”
Asserting ownership of IP rights like patents, trade marks and styles and obtaining appropriate relief might be a challenging exercise for inventors, Wrays patent attorney Andrew Butler says.
“It can be difficult to have legal relief over these scenarios. China is pretty much the Wild West with regards to theft of property rights, whilst the Chinese government has taken steps to further improve its IP environment.
“Chinese counterfeiters are frequently mobile, elusive and don’t possess any regard for 3rd party trade mark or other proprietary rights. They are usually well funded and well advised, and hivve efficient at covering their tracks, which makes it challenging 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 as well as for using misleading labelling.
“I feel for an Australian beekeeper and inventor having done so well which is now facing the prospect of having his profits skimmed through this profiteering Chinese cowboy no-one has ever been aware of.
“As an inventor, self harvesting bee hive will always be improving his product, and people need to understand that the original will almost always be superior to a copy.”