Last week, Quirky protested in front of the OXO offices about OXO stealing a dustpan idea from one of Quirky’s independent designers named Bill Ward. Quirky made a big stink on social media, and even went so far as to throw up the massive banner above.
How to you respond to another company’s sensationalist claims that you ripped off one of its designers? Like a boss.
Unfortunately, the designer of Quirky’s Broom Groomer wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea of teeth on a dustpan. The idea was actually invented almost 100 years ago. On September 9, 1919, the patent for this idea was issued to Addison F. Kelley from Freeland Park, IN.
Why is this description important? Ever since Mr. Kelley’s patent expired in 1936, any dustpan that includes teeth to effectively clean debris from broom or brush bristles will likely resemble each other, because each relies on the same, formerly patented, feature.
But, they didn’t stop with a historical patent lesson on Quirky’s ridiculous claims.
Ideas are limitless and patents expire for a reason: to encourage competition, innovation, and the evolution of new ideas that ultimately benefit the end user. If patents never expired, we would have only one car company, and the cars they develop would likely not be readily available and affordable to so many people all over the world. Imagine that.
At OXO, we either invent or improve. In this instance, we improved upon Mr. Kelley’s patent. Many other innovators do this as well. Apple did not invent the Walkman. They did not invent the cell phone. They did not invent the tablet computer. Their designers improved each and now millions of people enjoy the fruits of their improvements.
And then, OXO took it one step further.