Informative article by Carter Weiss in FSB Magazine/CnnMoney.com, owner of a small business called Built NY who used his patents around wine tote bags and accessories to fight off companies producing similar knock-offs. Persistence is resistance.
If you have an idea, very rarely will someone steal it until you make money. Once you make money, everyone will think about stealing it. For three years my company, Built NY, has been making a neoprene wine tote, our signature product, in what has become a $16-million-a-year line of totes, cases and accessories.
Without the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, cheap imitations would flood the market and put us out of business, so we spend roughly 4 percent of our annual budget obtaining and defending our patents. It’s our third-largest expense, after cost of goods and payroll. We have filed more than 100 design patents, utility patents, and trademark registrations in 20 countries, and we hold two registered trademarks on our two-bottle tote.
With a pair of scissors and a sewing machine, a bag is relatively simple to copy. And because bags fall under fashion, which changes too quickly to warrant patents, companies don’t associate them with heavy intellectual property. Forty-five companies, to be exact. That’s how many times we’ve had to defend our turf from knockoffs.