bill rubin wrote:
> Even if they come up with a similar antenna, were is the support structure
> for the item. With SteppIR you know they are in business and will be in
> business for time to come. So you can perhaps buy a knock-off and save a
> few $ but what happens when you have an issue ?
> 73 Bill N1HWC proud owner of 3 ele 30/40 steppir.
Bill makes an excellent point...
A company like FluidMotion stays in business by providing significant
value added over the raw parts and assembly. In the ham antenna world,
I suspect that trying to protect your concept as intellectual property
(i.e. patents or copyright) is going to be fruitless. Typically the
underlying concepts have been known for years (e.g. multi-element
passive arrays excited by mutual coupling: a Yagi) or what you're really
selling is convenience and assembly ability (i.e. you have a machine
shop and all the tooling, and the casual ham does not). There's no
"secret recipe" for antenna design.
Folks like FluidMotion came up with a clever implementation, found
sources for the materials and components, etc. and put it all together
in a nice package at a reasonable price. I doubt that someone could
actually go out and build a copy, buying all the parts separately, for
less than you can buy a factory built SteppIR.
Yes, a competitor can reverse engineer their device and come up with a
very close replica, but they're still facing the costs of finding the
sources, setting up manufacturing, etc., and it's likely that those
aren't significantly different than those faced by the SteppIR
manufacturer. That is, a very small part of the selling price of a
SteppIR is the result of the value of the underlying "intellectual
property", so the clone maker isn't going to be able to significantly
undercut the price (although... given import duties and such, it's very
possible that the cost *to an Italian ham* for the ultrabeam could be
much less than importing a SteppIR.. notwithstanding the Euro/USD
exchange rate issue).
Meanwhile, they've been selling all the SteppIRs they can make (and
And, there IS a marketable intellectual property component to the
SteppIR, and that's the algorithms in the control box.
The problem really comes in when you want to sell something like
software to hams. Then, MOST of the selling price is the value of the
intellectual property. Someone CAN make a copy at a cost very much
lower than the original selling price, so you better have some other way
of making money, or preventing the knockoff.
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