[Discuss] GE and Quirky partnering

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 15:39:55 UTC 2013

Yeah, well, Quirky was always just an outsourcing system.

The only unique thing about Quirky is that they have a system for paying a
large number of contributors a small percentage of what Quirky makes off of
the product. But it's not a bazaar, it's a cathedral. Everything is
curated, there are limited slots, and ultimately the decision regarding who
gets what is at Quirky's sole discretion.

They don't even end up with particularly interesting products. Many of them
are pretty, but they don't do anything compelling. For example, the egg
yolk separator is identical to another product from another company, AND
it's a function that can be performed by any old water bottle.

I don't think Quirky ever claimed to be open, however.

As for GE "opening" up its patents, I doubt they are doing anything
remotely close to Google or IBM's promise not to prosecute open source
infringement of patents. The thing about patents is that they protect
ideas, so once you've got a patent you can sue anyone who uses that idea,
for anything, even if they didn't realize they were infringing. When the
patent owner licenses the patent all they do is accept money in return for
a promise not to sue. Google and IBM made that promise for free.

The description on Quirky's website is all about the "inventors" but I
suspect that the actual agreement is strictly between GE and Quirky.
There's nothing unique about being able to read patents. They're public by
definition. There's also nothing unique about GE licensing its patents to
Quirky. That's a standard business practice.

All they seem to be doing is building an app that makes it easy to browse
and understand some of GE's patents and encouraging Quirky's users to focus
their attention on "the internet of things."

I would be surprised if anything about the business or legal structure was
actually changing.

On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 9:06 AM, Chris Church <thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com
> wrote:

> On Apr 12, 2013, at 6:23 AM, Tom Igoe wrote:
> http://www.quirky.com/ge
> Quirky <http://newsletter.makezine.com/t/r-l-otjdyht-jttikjulyh-d/>, the
> crowdsourced hardware startup that develops and sells modest gadgets like
> egg yolk extractors and ear bud holders,announced a partnership<http://newsletter.makezine.com/t/r-l-otjdyht-jttikjulyh-h/> on
> Wednesday with GE<http://newsletter.makezine.com/t/r-l-otjdyht-jttikjulyh-k/>,
> the global corporation that makes jet engines and wind turbines.
> An interesting development, but it looks like you'll only be able to
> design around said patents if your product is approved by Quirky and
> sold/manufactured through them, and their past behavior with OXO makes me
> concerned about their future behavior with other independents.
> I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Quirky, and their business.  This seems
> more like a ploy to find additional revenues for GE through Quirky (with
> additional benefit to Quirky, of course), than any real opening up of the
> patents.  GE could just do that, but they've chosen to restrict the channel
> to one manufacturer/distributor, with what appears to be a review board for
> approval to even make a design around one.
> Chris
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