Spherical Safety Seat, Un-Brella, Double Traction Bike: Are They Copycat Products?
Since I wrote my last article "Are the American Inventor Final 12 Products Already on the Market?" (posted April 19, 2006), we have received more e-mails and comments informing us about other products in the Final 12 that already exist that were not previously discussed. So I decided to write a follow up on the following three products:
1. Sheryl McDonald – Un-Brella (InBrella);
2. Francisco Patino - Double Traction Bike (D-Tract 2x2); and
3. Janusz Lieberkowski - Spherical Safety Seat.
None of these three products had a patent.
1. Un-Brella/In-Brella. I know Sheryl didn't make it into the Final Four but I figured since I addressed the In-Brella in my last article and people were mad that it did not move forward, I thought I would address it this article too.
Sue M. sent us a link that let us in on the Lotus 23. Andy Wana of Sydney won the 2005 Australian Design Award®-Dyson Student Award for his innovative re-engineering of the humble umbrella – the Lotus 23. The Lotus 23, is a fully retractable umbrella, where the canopy and frame cleverly fold into the handle squeezing out the water as it folds. The canopy unfolds out of the handle like a lotus flower opening. The umbrella is semi-retractable allowing the canopy to be half open when passing through tight areas. There are no sharp points and the vented design with flexible spokes ensures the wind will never blow the umbrella away or inside out. The Lotus 23 is made entirely of ABS plastic, which makes it much more flexible than the metal-ribbed standard. The canopy is vented to prevent the "parachute effect", so with its flexible ribs, it won't be mangled when the wind kicks up. Lotus23.
If you want to see an actual prototype of the Lotus 23, check out Sydney Morning Herald.
The Lotus 23 is everything the Inbrella wants to be. Andy Wana's website says the patent is pending on the Lotus 23. I've emailed Andy Wana to see if I could get information on the status of the Lotus 23. I will let you know what I find out.
2. Double Traction Bike/D-Tract 2x2. The D-Tract 2x2 made it to the Final Four. However, it's never too late for the American voters to know our facts before we vote for the American Inventor on May 18th.
A couple of our visitors sent us a link to the Viewpoint. When you go to the link, you see a tandem bike. However, I noticed a lot of differences between the Viewpoint and the D-Tract. The first and most prominent is that you can take the front seat off of the D-Tract and you are left with a bicycle for one person. You can not do that for the Viewpoint.
Here are other differences that our visitors have been posted:
* The Viewpoint's front pedals drive a chain connected to the back tire. Francisco's drives the front. The front person on the D-Tract …. doesn't steer. The Viewpoint's front rider does. (bottleslingguy)
* The Bilenky is fully recumbant, whereas the D-Tract 2x2 is not. Look at pedal location, for the Bilenky they are over 12" in front of the front wheel, whereas on the D-Tract they are connected directly to the front wheel. Secondly, look at the tire sizes. The Bilenky has a much smaller front wheel, whereas the D-Tract has identically sized front and back wheels. If you take off the front seat, you essentially have a BMX bike remaining. If you take the front seat off the Bilenky, you have one messed up bicycle... Also, the front wheel on the Bilenky drives a chain connected to the back tire. The D-Tract drives the front wheel. (anonymous)
* The angle of sitting is different. There's protection from the wheel. That's different. And the mechanism is detachable. (anonymous)
A little history - the original manufacturer, James Weaver (US Patent 4,502,705 March 5, 1985) called it the Counterpoint Opus and sold the patent to Bilenky Cycles a few years ago, and it is now available as the Viewpoint. Based on what I've seen and heard, the bikes are very, very different and the D-Tract is much more functional. Should the D-Tract be able to get a patent on the bike? I don't really know since I'm not a patent attorney but the differences are significant, so if I was a betting woman, I would bet it is.
3. Spherical Safety Seat. The Spherical Safety Car seat is coming up on Thursday's episode 109 (Thursday night has back to back episodes - 2 hours with Episodes 108 and 109). Doug Hall is going to be mentoring Janusz on his invention. It will be interesting to see if it moves forward … especially after you take a look at the link below.
A couple of different visitors let us in on the link to the ChildSafetyEgg. I know I probably don't have all my facts about the Spherical Safety Seat yet but after looking at the Child Safety Egg, my conclusion is that the Spherical Safety Seat already exists. It's called the Child Safety Egg.
In addition, John Guenther, already has a patent on this. US Patents 6,439,660 (August 27, 2002) and 6,634,708 (October 21, 2003). Guenther has created a version for the infant car seat and one for the toddler car seat. Everyone has been questioning whether this invention could work. The website tells us that they have already done testing on the prototype, so it looks like it could be a viable product. Take a look at his website for more information (the link is above). I found another article that said that Guenther was working with a Nasa Outreach Program to create somekind of braking mechanism for the Safety Egg. Article. It was a shocker for me to see that the Spherical Safety Seat already existed. Since the episode with the Spherical Safety Seat has already been produced, this new information is not really helpful to the judges. I really wonder whether it is going to move to the Final Four. We'll find out soon enough.
If anyone else has any more information of the Final 12 products, we would love to hear from you. See everyone on Thursday.