Any effects manufacturers out there?
A friend of mine has been working on patenting a couple different music accessories for the last year or so. One of his concepts falls into the effects category. So here's the question:
Does anyone know of/have connections to/own a company (large or small) that would consider carrying a new effects product?
I realize this is a very vague question, but I'm just hoping to expand our current options beyond my limited knowledge of the effects industry. Any information will be much appreciated.
As far as "carrying", there are a handful of effects-specializing web retailers out there, and you don't need an "inside person" to contact them with a new product. Retailers are always interested in carrying new products.
This assumes the product actually exists! You mention he is "working on patenting" a "concept". There is a vast chasm of difference between a potentially patentable concept and a product for sale.
So I'm guessing you meant a company that would manufacture his product, rather than a store to "carry" it?
Yes, we're looking for a company to manufacture and then carry the product.
I'm not necessarily looking for "insiders" (although it would be nice). I was more interested in finding some more obscure, perhaps "mom and pop" companies that might be interested. I simply don't know very many small effects companies.
Well, there are lots of smaller builders around here and on forums like ILoveFuzz. Maybe it'd be a good idea to contact one of them, though you'd probably have to disclose details, if the case is your buddy's got an idea but not that experience or tools to actually build it. Might be a shared venture in that case.
If his idea is actually patentable, it has to be something where the basic concept hasn't been done already a zillion times--and in the effects world presently, even the most innovative and advanced makers are just improving older ideas. Almost nothing is actually new. As a consequence, most fx builders and companies will be extremely suspicious or dubious about a "patent pending concept". You'll (he'll) need to come up with a way of explaining the newness of the concept without giving it all away, as long as the patent is still pending.
I'm going to guess that the new idea is hardware of some kind, like a controller, because that is one of the few areas where it's plausible to get a patent. So I'd say look to companies that have already invested in patentable controllers, such as Source Audio.
On a different tack, you could look for companies that have a history of investing more money than average in their design and marketing. I'm thinking Pigtronix.
patents are expensive. is that necessary?
what's the concept?
Not only are patents expensive to obtain, they are very, very expensive to protect.
25 years ago I worked for a Medical Instrument company that held a patent for a front end amplifier for ECG equipment. The magic behind the patent was that the amplifier was able to auto reference the heart signals to the virtual ground lead. Long story short… one of our competitors had designed a more complex circuit that did the same thing. Because the circuits were so different (but functioned similarly) our lawyers didn’t see any way of winning a case.
Here is a hypothetical situation:
An effects builder has a patent on Quantum Mechanical Tunneling in their distortion pedal.
Another effects builder makes a TS or Rat clone with a diode module to change the voicing. They don’t install the clipping diodes in their pedal and sell them as customer installed options. They sell all types of diode modules for their pedal… silicon, germanium, schottky, LED, zener, photo diodes and PIN tunnel diodes. Since they sell the PIN tunnel diodes (Quantum Mechanical Tunneling) for the customer to install in the distortion, are they infringing on the patent of the other builder? Legally the builder has the right to sell the clone and has the right to sell diodes.
Manufacturing and "carrying" a product are two totally different things. I manufacture effects for people, but I only "carry" them so far as to ship them to dealers that sell them.
What's the product?
Manufacturer > Wholesaler (maybe) > Retailer > Customer
Very seldom are the manufacturer and retailer the same person. Unless it's custom work, but in this case, it's a production line.
Thanks for all the input folks. The patent pending is making it quite difficult to disclose any information to potential retailers and manufacturers. We'll just have to keep working on developing our product and continue to play it safe (probably too safe to accomplish anything) until we get a patent through the system.
Btw, we are working with a patent lawyer, so we have a step in the right direction rather than just running into the whole thing blind.
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