[Discuss] GE and Quirky partnering

Alicia Gibb pip at nycresistor.com
Fri Apr 12 15:45:56 UTC 2013

This phrase: Quirky and GE are working to return patents to their intended
purpose, to provide inspiration for future inventors.

gives me the feeling that they are giving up their rights to the patents,
not just allowing the patent itself to be viewed, as you said, we can
already view patents since they are public, so that would be ridiculous. I
think what they mean is that they will be opening up their patents for
people to use rather than licensing them. But I also believe in unicorns,
so maybe I'm just optimistic.


On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> http://www.quirky.com/products/426-Pluck-egg-yolk-separator
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AirVOuTN_M
> 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.
> -Matt
> 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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