Thanks to the patent law system, small Colorado companies with an innovative idea can compete with larger ones. However, there is sometimes confusion over which company had the idea first, especially when the two companies have collaborated, and patent disputes can arise as a result.
When Boulder-based Dinkum Systems created ActionPod, a flexible camera mount, the company filed for a patent in 2011, but in October 2013, one of the company’s founders was surprised to find out that GoPro had launched the Jaws Flex Clamp, a remarkably similar product.
Although the two companies are now at odds over the patent, they have worked together in the past. Dinkum Systems showed off its ActionPod product at a GoPro trade show booth a few years ago. It is likely that the ActionPod is Dinkum Systems’ signature product, and the company had probably the product to be a hit.
Dinkum Systems sent a cease-and-desist letter to GoPro and received no response. Ultimately, they sued GoPro for patent infringement late last year. Unfortunately, it may be some time before this case is resolved. Representatives from GoPro have not commented on this case, and it could take up to a year for the Colorado District Court to hear the case. It is possible that Dinkum Systems will agree to license the product to GoPro, which is already manufacturing the Jaws Flex Clamp.
It’s critical for small companies in particular to protect their original ideas. Anyone who needs guidance in this area may want to seek the help of an attorney who specializes in intellectual property.
Source: Venture Beat, “Colorado startup sues GoPro for allegedly infringing camera-mount patent,” Hanqing Chen, May 1, 2014