If the companies were smart, they’d use the patent as a method of generating income. They can then license the design aspect(s) to other companies in exchange for a fee. The fee can be ANYTHING: price per unit, price per X-units. Penny a unit? Penny per 1000 units? Sometimes a licensing fee is a mere formality just to enforce patent laws. If someone comes up with a mind blowing innovation, they can simply say “OK, I’ll license this to any company for flat rate of $1(with some minor provisions) per model that uses our patent”. Money exchange, patent law enforced, contract executed = nobody gets screwed.
Forgive my newbie ignorance in this area, but how innovative are yoyo’s going to get?
Looking at my Duncan Reflex and my Yomega Brain, I can SEE the clutch mechanisms and they are almost identical. Obviously, we’re dealing with a “why re-invent the wheel”? sort of thing there. It’s a very simple concept. But perhaps the differences, despite how small, are sufficient to avoid lawsuits.
Imperial shapes, modified shapes, wing shapes, rim designs, hubstack designs. How many ways can you build a transaxle? How varied are bearings? 8 ball, 10 ball, thick, thin, ceramic, concave… It’s all variations on a theme anyways.
Right now, I’m getting tired of poorly made Chinese stuff. Thank goodness my DM2 was made in the USA. Literally, my wife was “why the hell did you get that? You’re just starting, use that other one you got”(which was a Reflex to start me off). I showed her the “Made in the USA” on the box and she was “Well, OK then.” Then again, she’d prefers her ignorance to justify many things.
I’m sure all the companies take ideas and pointers from each other. They are all trying to improve their products based on their sponsored players’ requests and their customer base’s requests.
In the end, all that really matters is that there is competition, and what is GOOD will rise and what is bad will FAIL. I think most of the people here know a lot more than me, also know that paying few dollars more for a better commodity type item like a bearing, will do so. Cheap knock offs will cause their own problems and create their own demise. The issue here is that most people don’t know crap when they see it because there’s so much crap around these days, many of us don’t know we have other options because the crap is squeezing out the quality stuff.
And in other cases, and sorry for picking on the Chinese again, but this affects me in multiple ways, and they freely do this. I like Disney pins, but I buy in the stores in the parks so I know they are at least properly authorized. The same factories that make the pins for Disney also then turn around and do unauthorized runs using the same dies and materials to produce black-market pins that are 100% indistinguishable from “the real thing”, and then sell them cheap, especially through Ebay. I’m not slamming Ebay though.
Because I’m an audio professional, Shure has some of their mics made in China. The same factories went ahead and made counterfeits, but were fully branded Shure and sold for cheap. Other companies have shared ribbon mic technology with certain factories, which drove that original company out of business through “we’ll make a mic with your brand name on it for cheap and in small numbers” tactics. Companies have Chinese factories make mixers and amplifiers and other end products, only to have it get a cosmetic make-over and sold as a different brand.
Patents don’t have to kill competition. It really depends on how things are being handled between the patent holder and those attempting do very similar things through their own independent innovations. You know what they say, great minds thing alike. I see so many different brands with so many apparently identical features. I don’t think these companies are suing each other on an ongoing basis. I’m sure companies buy models of yoyos from their competition to see what they are up to as well but probably not to find a way to sue others, but to see where they are against their competition.
I think with yoyos, innovation comes in small doses and then every once in a while, something BIG happens. We went from the classic Imperial shape, to someone putting it together backwards and accidentally creating the wing design. Metal axle replaced wood. Transaxle came along, then ball bearings. It takes time for things to happen big. Small stuff happens frequently, so much so that we might not notice. If a company is coming out with 4 new yoyos, that means there’s at least a reason for 4 new models. That means 4 new things at least.