[TowerTalk] Ultrabeam OF ITALY

jimlux jimlux at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 29 13:35:20 EDT 2008

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 
presumably profiting).

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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