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carolinamike

The circle of life

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Well Guys,

We had a very interesting situation to come up today and thought maybe some of you would get a kick out of this. And yes there is a lesson to be learned on this one. I know some of you read some of the other fishing forums so some of you might know about the dispute between GrandeBass's Rattlesnake and the Hag's Tornado worm. Ring worm type baits have been around for awhile. This thing started out in Texas and GrandeBass became real popular, with basically two styles of this worm. The Hag's Tornado came along with the same type of design except in different sizes and has a neat rattle chamber design. We are lucky enough to be producing the Hag's Tornado, anyway, today I got a call and Stanley has come out with the Sidewinder, a ring type bait with a little bit different tail with a rattle chamber. Now all is fair in love and war (war being the plastic business). The thing that a lot of people don't know is that several months back Stanley approached both companies about buying them out. To make a long story short, I know Hag's didn't feel the offer was fair. After refusing to sell, the gentleman from Stanley told him that they were knocking off his worm and were going to call it the Sidewinder. Well it happened. Guys, I've been one of the main ones to say I didn't feel like a patent was necessary, but tonight I'm sitting down to a big plate of crow pie. I can't help but think what the offer from Stanley would have been if this was a patented bait. Matt at MattLures has always stood up with several others on TU for patenting baits and tonight I'm in total agreement. Although it's expensive to obtain and can be even more expensive to defend, in a case like this, it just makes you wonder what could have happened if this had been handled differently. I guess the lesson to be learned here is if you come up with a good idea be careful how you move forward with it. Just the other day, we had to sign an extensive confidentiality agreement just to look at a drawing of a bait, so there are a lot of safety precautions you can take. In the past if I ever offended anybody by my stance on the patent issue, then I truly apologize. Oops, almost choked on a crow bone! Maybe this will be an interesting conversation for a couple of days, who knows. :nuhuh:

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All part of the game. I still think you are right however that patents aren't necessary for the majority of small lure makers. A lot depends on how much money one has to defend a patent. Those lawyers, fees, and how things amazingly get drug out for extended times really eats into ones pocketbook. :wink:

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I got into a trademark battle, I owned and operated a commercial Apiary, did the agricultural work and also established a bottling plant and then as a spin off did pest control on feral honey bees in urban areas. Trademarks are issued by categories in food products. Aside from being the resident biologist, entomologit, for the business did all the legal for the trademarks myself (basement lawyer too) and got a registered trademark, one large conglomerate used the same preface adjective to describe their product, and lets use a phony example. I had Green Honey they had Green Sauce. They began a suite over the use of Green. Although the Sauce and Honey categories were both separate and it was an open trade mark in my category their claim was any use of "Green" would be an infringement of their product.

Well, I got a lawyer and told him right up front to sell my trademark. He asked why I did not use the original lawyer and was totally flabbergasted that I had done my own registration, search and legal work. I had not enough confidence to run the suit myself however.

My theory was the conglomerate could spend me to death and run me under. I could win with precedence but it would take 100 years of sales to repay the legal costs and I would have won and had nothing left but principle. Or I could loose and had nothing left but bills. For the small guy selling out is the only option for financial survival if they can out spend you. To win a race your engines got to be about the same horsepower then it is about skill of maneuvering.

The lawyer call the conglomerate legal division and told them to ship out they did not have a case. He turned to me and said he would call them in 10 days and see if they would make an offer! They went for it. So fast I learned the hard way if they are prepared to spend big bucks to snow you under they would buy you out for about the same amount. It is a savings to them. Well, I asked too little, got a few thousands for the trademark and the conglomerate, their name rhymes with Full Monte, got a new trade mark in a food category they did not deal in before.

I think of all the hard work I did. I was left with label printing plates that had a name I could not use and thousands of labels. Owning one’s small business keeps you from fishing. The moral is selling out may be the only road to profit, owning the rights may be just another pit to throw money down. You must be a commited capitalist, everything has a price and is for sale. Once your have a huge war chest you can deal, but it costs always.

I eventually sold completely out, all three dividisons, and hung out the sign…

GONE FISHING!

And went to work for the Government.

Edited by Piscivorous Pike

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Very well put and informative Pike.

Thank you for your kind words and critique.

I have read my post and I have learned that either I cannot type or I cannot spell. Maybe it is a combination of a little bit of both deficiencies. Thank you for your patience too.

Pike

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Oh man, is this the final chapter in the GrandeBass/Hag's Tornado wars? It is funny how the Lake Fork Tackle Zig Zag, which predates both of these baits, never gets mentioned when all the bait copying fingerpointing gets started. In any event, I am not suprised. I have spoken with Tommy about this and when he told me Stanley made an offer and had injection equipment ready and waiting, I knew it was just a matter of time before one of the "big boys" got in on the action. The Rattlesnake/Tornado is extremely popular in Texas. I have also heard that the Academy "house brand" H20 is about to start making it's own Rattlesnake/Tornado knock off.

The whole debate is funny to me because although both the rattlesnake and tornado look the same in your hand, they perform very differently underwater. I use both depending on the situation.

All I know is I am waiting for someone to do a tapered ringworm mold similar to these baits so that the small time lure maker can produce some :drool:(Bear and Del- PAY ATTENTION!!!). I know the ring design on these baits is what has prevented a hand pour mold in the past; perhaps with the Bear hand injectors you can finally get some done. I know that I, for one, would be ALL OVER THEM!

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Acuna - what is even funnier is this line from Stanley's website.

"Legendary lure-maker Lonnie Stanley, known for his jig and

spinnerbait designs has loaned his expertise to Stanleys

newest innovation, the Sidewinder."

Makes you wonder if he designed anything that he takes credit for in his advertising.

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Smallie,

I hoped that someone would get around to pulling up the website. I thought the whole opening statement was hilarious. Stanley's been around a long time and from what I hear, Lonnie's not in the best of health these days and I don't want to bad mouth them, but if there is such a word as "knocker offer" it could apply here. :lol:

Acuna,

You're right the ring worm war of Texas has been something else, it's hard to say who's going to come out on top on this one. Sometimes I really wish there was more cooperation among companies in this business, but competition will always prevent this. But truthfully, there should be enough business for everyone. As far as Academy goes, I've kind of heard through the grapevine that they're actually working out a deal with Stanley, but look at the Senko and the Sweet Beaver, hundreds of knock offs and both baits still sell very well.

Pike,

I agree with you that sometimes it is more profitable to sell than to compete, but the problem on this deal is the offer that they made just didn't seem to be sufficient, being that first year that the bait's out, it made as much as the offer. So it's really hard to say what to do in this case. Do you hope that sells are good next year and you equal the offer or do you sell, not feeling confident that you'll do as much business as the year before. But the way it was worded to Tommy was "OK, you don't want to sell, then we're coming out with a knock off" and actually told him the name of the worm. That just goes to prove that you're right, if what a big company has planned doesn't work out, the alternative plan is already in place. Living by the Golden Rule, the man with the gold, makes the rules. :nuhuh:

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Acuna,

I'm curious - you mentioned you use both the Rattlesnake and Hags worms but in different applications. Where and how do you use each? We have just gotten some of the Rattlesnake worms here in TN (had to order them from a friend in TX). We are still trying to find the best applications and presentations. I know they will catch fish. But, help an 'ole boy from TN out on how best to fish these things:wink:

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Mike I am sorry to hear this. I also doubt Lonie had anything to do with it. From what I hear he doesnt run things.

I think a patent would be a huge waist of time in this instance. Here is why. There is nothing new or inovative about a ring worm. I HIGHLY doubt that any of those types would have been granted a patent and even if they were, it would be extremly easy to get around it. You can protect the name, the slogan,and the exact original design. But with a bait as simple as that it would be incredibly easy to defeat any patent that the designer was lucky(or unlucky) enough to be gratned. How hard would it be to change the rings or the rattle pocket or the tail. A design patent would only protect how the bait looks. I could carve out a knockoff in a day that would defeat any patent on that design. So could all the Big boys. Ken Chamont(Stanley) is no dummy. I am sure he changed the design enough just incase there was a patent. They lost a large case not too long ago where they held the patent and sombody else infringed. However the defendant made just enough changes to get around the Patent. I am sure they learned some things after that. Patents are good when they can not easily be defeated of you can afford to defend them. If you have a stong enough patent then you can find a lawyer to defend it for a large percentage of the winnings. However in most cases the patent is weak. there are other forms of protection like trademarks and copywrites but those are easy to beat to. The system is flawed. Knockoff artist should be held accountable but they arent unless the infringment is exactly the same.

Sorry man I feel for you. I get knocked off all the time but they are always just different enough to avoid any trouble.

You just have to beat them in the market place.

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Matt, I'm lucky being strictly production now has taken me out of the retail game, but of course, being that I make the Tornado, Tommy's sales do affect me directly. As far as the patent goes, things have gone way too far for a patent. But just think, if someone like Lake Fork who kind of started this thing and would have done their homework on patents, it's hard to tell what might have come of it. As far as the patent itself goes, there is actually TWO DIFFERENT TYPES of patents: a patent for the design of the product then there is also a patent on a function of the product. It was this type that I ran into with Zoom. They have a ridge on the outside of the chunk tail. Their patent claims that this one small ridge is what causes the unique action of the bait, along with a lot of other key points too. If the patent would have been approached in a manner that the rings made the bait perform a special way, then a patent could be possible if it would've been done early enough (we're talking years earlier). Most baits that have patents have the patent # on the packaging. These are easily looked up online throught the US Patent office. Of course, they're worded for lawyers to read but you can usually get an idea of the main points of the bait because the same parts will keep coming up in the patent over and over. I guess now it's just left up to who likes what product the best.

Bountiful,

You're absolutely right, Tommy does fair business and honest business. He deals mainly with Mom & Pops and already has a very good customer base. He has very reliable customer service. I don't care what kind of business you're in, if you conduct your business the way you're supposed to, I've always found that the Lord takes care of you.

Edited by carolinamike
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Hello Mike!

Your post about the Tornado and Rattlesnake worm war is very interesting!..(.and thanks again for your referral of the "person you directed me to" for my lure project,..I have lookers from legit companies, but no actual offers as of this date,...he is really a quality guy, and has been very helpful, just like you said he would be). I hope I can contribute a couple of helpful thoughts and warnings for anybody on the TU board that is working on a patentable "next new hot lure". Understand, I am not a lawyer,...and am not giving legal advice here,....this is just my lay person's understanding, (right or wrong) of a tiny snapshot of some the complicated rules that could invalidate a patent. They are buried on the USPTO website, and all over the web, if you want to dig them out. From the early beginnings of our country, the U.S. has established a "first to invent" patent law,...as opposed to the rest of the world that has a "first to file" law. The "first to file" laws award valid patents to the "first person to file", regardless of who invented it first. Congress is currently in the process of trying to vote to change our patent law from the current "first to invent",.....to the "first to file" law,...and thus join the other countries in the world to further screw the little guy one more time! The big boys always have more resources to be able to file faster than the average joe inventor. Our "first to invent" concept was established hundreds of years ago, precisely to protect and encourage America's small inventors who naturally have fewer resources. O.K.....To obtain a patent in the U.S. you need to be the "true inventor", and of course, have a "patentable" invention, which has it's own set of legal definitions that must be met. But, first and foremost,... there must not be any "Prior Art" of your invention existing out there. If there is any "Prior Art" on your invention, your patent would not be valid. Now,..."Prior Art" can be many, many things, and it ranges from very simple, to very complicated and tricky. If there is a previous drawing,... picture,...or written or verbal description that shows the workings and essence of your invention, then it's most likely to be Prior Art and cannot be patented. Additionally,...If you, yourself, publicly circulate or publish an article or pictures describing your lure,...that is Prior Art..... If you speak in a public forum describing the your lure,... it's Prior Art. Even if you give your lure to a fishing guide to field test it for you,....and you are not present, and "in control of the invention",...that too, is Prior Art. If you show your invention to a company or individual,... a Non-disclosure agreement usually protects you from having created a Prior Art event against yourself. And that is just touching the surface. Interested companies, of course will try to discover any Prior Art on an invention, so they can be legally free to produce it themselves. That's the reason competing companies will do their own patent search on other companies inventions. This is extremely common among the high-tech companies and their inventions. Furthermore, if you ever make an actual offer to sell your invention to someone,... and you do not file for your patent within one year of the offer,....you may also LOSE the right to ever patent your invention. So, this the advice that was given to me by someone who has worked on a lot of different inventions, and I will pass it along: The most important first step an inventor should take (besides knowing how not to lose your invention because of tricky patent laws)....is to start, and keep current, an Inventors Notebook or Journal. (Check out the web, or the USTPO site for articles on how to do it right.) This notebook must be written in ink, in a bound book,....not looseleaf. Enter every fact about the inception, design, and development of your lure such as drawings, and descriptions of how it works, and why it's unique. Every time, you make a relevant change, or make field tests, or have conversations with people about your lure, emails, etc. etc.,....you need to enter these events in chronological order by date and time. You need to have a third party, who is not a family member, be a witness to developments concerning your lure, by signing, and dating that page in the book that contains the relevant drawings or descriptions.. All Witnesses must have at least a rudimentary working understanding of the invention and statement or drawing that they are signing. The reason that this Notebook is necessary, and valuable, if done right,... is that it might be your best and ONLY chance to offer proof to a judge or a jury,...in the event that you are ever involved in a legal dispute where the question is;... who really was the "first to invent"? It can also be helpful in preventing the many LURE THIEVES,...(some who may be reading this now,..if so, listen up!) from stealing your invention. The Inventors Notebook also might be exactly the thing that makes your attorney anxious to sue some of these THIEVES on a contingency basis! In my opinion,...U.S. patent laws are a lot like the IRS laws,...very complicated and brain freezing,...bloated, and stacked against the little guy who has few resources. I have been working on a lure that has two model variations, a shad type, and frog/creature type,.. this lure has several very unique design and utility features,...and I have several fishable prototypes and action DVD's. For this project, I have kept a Notebook on my lure exactly as I have described above,... it is super easy to maintain once you start it. The Notebook is not a legal document in the strictest sense,..but it IS evidence, ...that you in fact, have invented something, at a certain point in time!,... and that fact has been verified by witnesses. But,...in this "wild west" lure industry, I'm betting that my lure will STILL GET STOLEN in time!....because you always assume some risk whenever you reveal your lure,... even with a non-disclosure agreement! You either have to show it,...or leave it in your tackle box and just fish it yourself. That is the reality, so you need to arm yourself as best as you can, to try to defend yourself when you don't have deep pockets. Sorry this was so long,... I just wanted to strongly emphasize two points; the danger of creating any "Prior Art" against yourself,..and the importance of keeping good current records on your inventions. Good luck to us all,...we'll need lots of it.

deke95

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The notebook is the correct way to go if done properly. I have used one daily for the past 9 years to do all my lab work for the very reasons mentioned. Lot of stuff to dig into if one is interested but deep pockets typically still win out in the end.

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152nd,...Your welcome, hope it helps a little,...(no more of that,...need some valium, for my seized fingers and neck.) : )

Travis.....You're right!,....the most chips will dominate this little game!

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I'm not in your all's league, so let me humbly ask a few simple question. Is Lonnie the Big guy here? the one that has the deepest pockets? Or did he just bluff the others?

I looked at all three sites and his was the least impresive, as for layout goes to me.

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Deke95,

Glad I could help you out. It's nice to find good people in this business isn't it?:) Thanks for your willingness to share the information on patents that you found out. This is just such a shadowy subject, you never know if you're getting the right answers. From what the attorneys have told me, the basic decision is always left up to the judge, which in turn leads to who can afford the most representation. Things are setup for the big boys for sure.

FishingBuds,

Stanley is definitely the larger player in this game as far as money goes. It started with Lake Fork, Grande improved on Lake Fork, Hag improved on Grande and Stanley copied Hag. FLW magazine is featuring an article in the Nov/Dec issue about the Hag's Tornado. I think Grande is scheduled for the Jan/Feb issue. I think also in this issue they're going to do a comparison of the baits. Tommy's in the process now of coming out with a 6 1/2" Tornado worm and a ringed craw bait. The drawings look great! I think the Hag's also has the most variety of colors.

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Oh man, is this the final chapter in the GrandeBass/Hag's Tornado wars? It is funny how the Lake Fork Tackle Zig Zag, which predates both of these baits, never gets mentioned when all the bait copying fingerpointing gets started. In any event, I am not suprised. I have spoken with Tommy about this and when he told me Stanley made an offer and had injection equipment ready and waiting, I knew it was just a matter of time before one of the "big boys" got in on the action. The Rattlesnake/Tornado is extremely popular in Texas. I have also heard that the Academy "house brand" H20 is about to start making it's own Rattlesnake/Tornado knock off.

The whole debate is funny to me because although both the rattlesnake and tornado look the same in your hand, they perform very differently underwater. I use both depending on the situation.

All I know is I am waiting for someone to do a tapered ringworm mold similar to these baits so that the small time lure maker can produce some :drool:(Bear and Del- PAY ATTENTION!!!). I know the ring design on these baits is what has prevented a hand pour mold in the past; perhaps with the Bear hand injectors you can finally get some done. I know that I, for one, would be ALL OVER THEM![/quote]

DITTO - This is what I'm talkin' bout:drool::yes::teef::yeah:

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Hopefully I can shed a little light on the subject of patents which might be helpful. First and most important for anyone considering getting a patent is to get the book "Patent It Yourself" by Nolo Press Amazon.com: Patent It Yourself, 12th Edition (9781413305166): David Pressman: Books. The book takes you through the whole process and can be relied on as being factually correct. Although it is written for the layman, you will have to read some of the relevant sections many times to fully understand them, but when you do, you will understand Prior Art and if your idea is really worth pursuing to the patent search stage. Even if you decide that filing the patent yourself is beyond you, if you do a lot of the work before turning it over to someone else, you can save major dollars.

I hold two patents both of which I filed myself and I could never have done it without the above book. My father also held the basic patent for all metal skis among others,so we have been through the process. The vast majority of patents are initially rejected and mine were too. This is where it gets complicated. How to redo your initial application so that it meets with the examiners objections requires someone skilled in the art and was beyond me. However, I found a person who wasn't an attorney, but who had a reputation for having his work fly through the Patent Office. Sure enough for under $5000, the patent was granted. If I hadn't done most of the work myself, the cost would have been between $30,000 - $100,000 and would have made getting a patent out of the question.

Once I had the patent, let's look at the reality of the situation I was in. I looked at making the product myself but start up costs were $50,000 plus for tooling etc. and that was beyond me. However, let's say I got the necessary capital and produced the product which turned out to be a moderate success with say sales of $1,000,000 - $2,000,000 and a profit of half that. What was I going to do if someone ripped off my invention? It's fantasy land to think that I would have been able to get an attorney to take the case on a contingency basis because the potential gain just isn't large enough for the time involved. If it was a major corporation like Callaway that I was suing, they can drag the case out for 5 - 10 years and I'm looking at $500,000 plus in lawyer costs. Not doable. If it's a smaller company I'm suing, they can also drag the case out for years and if I win a big judgment they simply go bankrupt. Getting a judgment is one thing collecting is another. The patent did allow me to sell the invention to a major corporation which was really my only option. The main thing to remember is that a patent for something you are producing yourself is worthless unless you are willing and able to defend it.

One other case study is also noteworthy. I was friends with the inventor of the wind deflector that you see today over the cab of every 18 wheeler. This was a Major invention and the inventor produced the product himself and made a lot of money on it. However, he spent the 17 year life of the patent in court defending it and in fact won most of the cases. I was talking with him one day after the patent expired and he said that it was the worst thing that he ever did. I asked him why and he said that it ruined his life for seventeen years because of the continual stress involved with the court cases. Certainly a cautionary tale.

If anyone wants further info please pm me.

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So I can get into trouble for making baits off of these molds?

I'm abit confused, Is making a rod a copyright infridgment? Can you compare rules between making a bait verses making a rod?

Lets take stik worms, I wanna pour my own as a hobby-would this be against the law or only it turns into one if I try to sell them? I mean this lure making industry seems HUGE to me, theres so many company's out there that offer materials and stuff to us, and its not shut down, why?

I'm gonna stop there, I think I'm just confused here?

Edited by FishingBuds
I maybe over-reacting

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So I can get into trouble for making baits off of these molds?

I'm abit confused, Is making a rod a copyright infridgment? Can you compare rules between making a bait verses making a rod?

Lets take stik worms, I wanna pour my own as a hobby-would this be against the law or only it turns into one if I try to sell them? I mean this lure making industry seems HUGE to me, theres so many company's out there that offer materials and stuff to us, and its not shut down, why?

I'm gonna stop there, I think I'm just confused here?

only against the law if you make an exact replica and SELL them under a different name.

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