Certainly one of Australia’s most celebrated modern inventors will lock horns by having an alleged copycat that promises to be preparing for a global launch.
Flow Hive created a hive that allows honey to flow out of the front into collection jars, representing the 1st modernisation in terms of how beekeepers collect honey. It took ten years to produce.
Alleged copycat Tapcomb is undertaking an extensive social media campaign claiming to get the world’s first truly bee-friendly tappable hive, contacting flow beehive via Facebook retargeting.
Tapcomb has also adopted similar phrases such as being “gentle on bees” and offering beekeepers “honey on tap”. However, it told MySmallBusiness you will find substantial differences between the two hive producers.
Flow Hive co-inventor Cedar Anderson said Flow Hives are patented all over the world. His lawyers have been unable to uncover patents for Tapcomb.
“The frame they show within their marketing video appears just like cheap Chinese copies we’ve seen, which we know infringes on many elements 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 from the comb, which is exactly what they’re claiming to be bringing to promote first. It seems just like a blatant patent infringement for 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 lay out to improve $100,000, but astonished even inventors in the event it raised $2.18 million from the first round the clock.
Flow Hives have since been adopted by beekeepers in than 100 countries and boasts over 40,000 customers, mostly in Australia as well as the US. The corporation now employs 40 staff.
Tapcomb, however, claims its hive design to become substantially different, conceding how the dimensions are similar to Flow Hive.
“Similar to lightbulbs, the differentiator is with the internal workings which are the basis for product quality and intellectual property,” US director of parent company Beebot Inc, Tom Kuhn says.
It feels as though someone has stolen something from your house and you’ve got to handle it even when you really simply want to get on with performing a job you’re extremely excited about.
Tapcomb hives are tested by beekeepers in Tasmania, Britain, Hong Kong and Greece, he says. “We plan to launch Tapcomb worldwide in order to provide consumers a choice of products.”
However, Anderson says the inner workings of Tapcomb seem to be similar to a young Flow Hive prototype, adding that his patent covers the moving parts no matter what their depth inside of the hive.
Tapcomb lists its office address as Portland, Oregon, where self tapping beehive also offers basics. An address search reveals a residential townhouse that purchased in late January. Other online searches list Tapcomb to be Hong Kong-based.
Kuhn says he has declared patents in the US, Australia, Hong Kong, China and India. He would not reveal pricing and said he is trying to find a manufacturer. “What is important for people like us is maximum quality at an agreeable price point.”
This isn’t the first apparent copycat Flow Hive has received to tackle, with strikingly similar products listed for sale on various websites.
“There were lots of bad Chinese fakes, and it’s sad to discover others fall under the trap of buying copies, just to be disappointed with low quality,” Anderson says.
“Any inventor that develops a whole new product which has gotten off around the globe has to expect opportunistic people in an attempt to take market share. Obviously, you will always find people prepared to undertake this type of illegal activity for financial gain.
“It feels as though someone has stolen something out of your house and you’ve got to cope with it even though you really only want to get on with carrying out a job you’re extremely excited about.”
Asserting ownership of IP rights such as patents, trade marks and fashoins and obtaining appropriate relief can be quite a challenging exercise for inventors, Wrays patent attorney Andrew Butler says.
“It can be hard to acquire legal relief during these scenarios. China is really the Wild West with regards to theft of property rights, however the Chinese government has gotten steps to further improve its IP environment.
“Chinese counterfeiters are often mobile, elusive and don’t possess regard for third party trade mark or other proprietary rights. They may be usually well funded and well advised, and hivve proficient at covering their tracks, so that it is challenging to identify the perpetrators or 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 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 that has done very well and it is now facing the possibilities of having his profits skimmed by this profiteering Chinese cowboy no-one has ever been aware of.
“Being an inventor, bee hive kits will always be improving his product, and individuals need to understand that the very first will always be much better than a copy.”