OTTO was founded in 2016 by a small group of bicycle lovers and product innovators set out with a focused mission to create clever products for cycling and outdoor markets, and the outcome was the OTTOLOCK brand and it’s full line of lightweight, portable locks and accessories. The OTTO team values innoivation, customer service, and commitment and is excited about growing together with customers.
Oh wait, we also steal designs from a fellow PNW small business:
Yeah, it was basically an oops we’re new at this kind of thing.
“We launched the bell on Kickstarter, and we thought we weren’t done with the design,” said Clint Slone. “Our thought was, see how it does on Kickstarter, and then if it does pretty well, in the meantime we’ll work on some design modifications for mass manufacturing, and then apply for the patent. My understanding was that we had a year from the first date of sale to file. It turns out that just six months prior to our Kickstarter project, patent laws changed to be more inline with international laws, which is, once you sell the product, you can no longer file. We thought we had time to file. As of right now, we have no legal course of action.
“I think it was obvious to both Crane and whoever is making Rock Brothers that we didn’t have any protection so they just jumped on it. Whereas even if you have just US protection, there’s a least a little bit of hesitation. Who knows how it would have gone.”
My understanding is that selling it (or even using it publicly) before filing for a patent essentially puts it out there to the public and then it becomes “prior art”. The inventor’s own invention becomes prior art negating their patent of the same thing.
I have the older type Oi bell (from you, thrown in with a purchase!), and agree it is not terribly loud. However! This is a good thing because I put it on the 4y-old’s bike and they can ring it all they want and it doesn’t get annoying.
This is exactly it. I got a friendly, long, candid email back from the guy with some background.
Backstory is that the folks that mfr the U-lock they brand as an Ottolock accessory approached them with the bell, and they decided to add the bell on Amazon (not in LBS) to get them some hits and cover costs and hopefully eventually sell more locks. Adding the bell to Amazon was not necessarily a decision they wanted to make, but it was a low-capital thing they could do to try to leverage the brand name asap for some cashflow.
He described it as being in no-mans land. Better to be in the break or be back with the pack, but the company size as it is now is not ideal.
He also tried the “lots of bells out there, nothing is really a new idea” but I called that out as we know damn well it is a dead-ringer copy (and in Rockbros case including the packaging!).
the point is basically so you can’t do the following:
1: put a thing out in the world
2: wait for someone to spend $$$ tooling up to make their own version of it
3: patent your thing after the fact so now you can sue them and they’ll have sunk a lot of money that they can’t recoup
3a: possibly see any subtle changes they’ve made to your thing and write your patent to be broad enough to apply to those features as well while plausibly being able to say “yeah mine didn’t do that but I had the idea that it could have done that”
you’ve gotta fully document the patentable idea before sticking it out in the world for everyone to see and riff on.
oof this sort of shit really grinds me gears, when someone knows they’re full of shit and everyone can tell, but refuses to admit it/goes and does dumbfuck stuff anyway.
I do kinda feel bad for Ottolock because they never really sold those things as being high-security AFAIK but I think it’s also good for users to understand that it adds about as much protection as a really nice zip tie