China’s Method of taking Kickstarter Ideas

By November 5, 2016Lifestyle

 We all know Kickstarter as that amazing website that helps creative people launch their ideas off the ground through crowdfunding. If you have visited the site before and have to check out some of the awesome projects there, you’ll have an idea about how it works. It is really a good avenue to discover and support innovative ideas. Nowadays, it has also become a goldmine for thieves.

 

It is a fact that China is stealing Kickstarter product ideas and launching them faster and cheaper. For example, Sherman is an Israeli entrepreneur, who spent a year designing a product thinking it would make him rich. He came up with the concept of Stikbox. Sherman wanted to invent an alternative selfie-stick that could be carried around easily. After two years of hard work, Sherman successfully created a compact smartphone case that doubled as a collapsible selfie stick. He named his invention the Stickbox and launched a Kickstarter campaign to collect $40,000 through crowd funding.

 

Then he put it up on popular crowd sourcing site Kickstarter to raise some extra production funding. He even shot a professional promo video, showing a couple taking the perfect selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. The Stickbox is a sleek smartphone that magically transforms into a Selfie Stick. It has a selfie stick hidden underneath. It is available for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s in seven colors: blue, white, black, red, green, purple, and pink.

 

But one week after his product hit Kickstarter in December 2015, Sherman was shocked when he saw it for sale on AliExpress—Alibaba’s English-language wholesale site. He found that vendors across China were selling identical smartphone case selfie-sticks, using the same design Sherman came up with himself. Some of them were selling it for as low as $10 a piece, well below Sherman’s expected retail price of £39 ($47.41). Amazingly, some of these vendors stole the name of Sherman’s product–Stikbox.

 

Sherman had become a victim of China’s lightning-fast copycats. Before he had even found a factory to make his new product, manufacturers in China had spied his idea online and beaten him to the punch. Unfortunately, Sherman’s idea was so good that a Chinese company figured out how to make the case/stick and started to manufacture it immediately. Sherman wanted to sell his cases for almost $50 but the Chinese undercut him and charged only $8 USD. They sold their cheap cases on AliExpress while Sherman’s Kickstarter was still in play. And when Sherman’s fans found out, they were livid, thinking it was him who stole the idea and was trying to overcharge. As a result, Sherman’s backers were outraged, accusing him of cheating on pricing.

 

It isn’t easy to protect an idea against theft but it’s a necessary step if you wish to make millions off of an idea. Song Zhu, an IP dispute litigator at the Ruyak Cherian LLP law firm, tells Quartz that the first thing one needs to do is apply for utility and design patents that are valid in both the U.S. and China. He adds that agreements should be made before any product is revealed to manufacturers, so as to protect it from being outright stolen.
 

We all know Kickstarter as that amazing website that helps creative people launch their ideas off the ground through crowdfunding. If you have visited the site before and have to check out some of the awesome projects there, you’ll have an idea about how it works. It is really a good avenue to discover and support innovative ideas. Nowadays, it has also become a goldmine for thieves.

 

It is a fact that China is stealing Kickstarter product ideas and launching them faster and cheaper. For example, Sherman is an Israeli entrepreneur, who spent a year designing a product thinking it would make him rich. He came up with the concept of Stikbox. Sherman wanted to invent an alternative selfie-stick that could be carried around easily. After two years of hard work, Sherman successfully created a compact smartphone case that doubled as a collapsible selfie stick. He named his invention the Stickbox and launched a Kickstarter campaign to collect $40,000 through crowd funding.

 

Then he put it up on popular crowd sourcing site Kickstarter to raise some extra production funding. He even shot a professional promo video, showing a couple taking the perfect selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. The Stickbox is a sleek smartphone that magically transforms into a Selfie Stick. It has a selfie stick hidden underneath. It is available for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s in seven colors: blue, white, black, red, green, purple, and pink.

 

But one week after his product hit Kickstarter in December 2015, Sherman was shocked when he saw it for sale on AliExpress—Alibaba’s English-language wholesale site. He found that vendors across China were selling identical smartphone case selfie-sticks, using the same design Sherman came up with himself. Some of them were selling it for as low as $10 a piece, well below Sherman’s expected retail price of £39 ($47.41). Amazingly, some of these vendors stole the name of Sherman’s product–Stikbox.

 

Sherman had become a victim of China’s lightning-fast copycats. Before he had even found a factory to make his new product, manufacturers in China had spied his idea online and beaten him to the punch. Unfortunately, Sherman’s idea was so good that a Chinese company figured out how to make the case/stick and started to manufacture it immediately. Sherman wanted to sell his cases for almost $50 but the Chinese undercut him and charged only $8 USD. They sold their cheap cases on AliExpress while Sherman’s Kickstarter was still in play. And when Sherman’s fans found out, they were livid, thinking it was him who stole the idea and was trying to overcharge. As a result, Sherman’s backers were outraged, accusing him of cheating on pricing.

 

It isn’t easy to protect an idea against theft but it’s a necessary step if you wish to make millions off of an idea. Song Zhu, an IP dispute litigator at the Ruyak Cherian LLP law firm, tells Quartz that the first thing one needs to do is apply for utility and design patents that are valid in both the U.S. and China. He adds that agreements should be made before any product is revealed to manufacturers, so as to protect it from being outright stolen.

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