Did This Major Brand Steal a Mom Inventor’s Idea? You Decide

As a member of the Mompact consulting team, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year getting to know some amazing mom inventors – Women who saw a challenge in their daily family life, and invented a solution to solve it. These women are regular moms, just like you and I. They spend countless hours researching and planning, just to get their idea off the ground. Many of them spend their entire savings, and even take out loans – all to see that big idea, and that dream, turn into reality. And the rest of us moms benefit from their hard work, as their amazingly helpful problem-solvers hit the market, and we have access to them to solve our own busy mom challenges. Sounds like a great American story, right? It is – until it goes wrong.

Aqueduct, Prince Lionheart

What do you think?

You can see the post that I got this photo from on the Mompact Facebook page. The products look like a pretty similar idea, right? The one on the left is the Aqueduck, the product invented by a mom, and sold by Peachy LLC. She has filed for a patent, but didn’t have the process completed yet. The second image is from major brand Prince Lionheart. Now, I’ve always been a huge fan of Prince Lionheart products. I was a fan of theirs on Facebook, entered many of their giveaways, and have been considering purchasing some of their potty products, since it’s almost that time in our home. When I first heard that they had come up with a product that was incredibly similar to the Aqueduck, I thought that it must just be a very unfortunate coincidence. It’s not impossible for two companies to come up with a similar idea totally independently of one another. And earlier today, Prince Lionheart released a statement on their Facebook page stating that this was all a big misunderstanding.

BUT – Then I saw the advertisement image that Prince Lionheart released. The one above.

Take a closer look – Not at the product, but at the child’s hands. Do you see what shocked me so much? They are the SAME set of children’s hands that appear in the Aquaduck ad. Same palm filled with bubbles. Same everything. Under a similar shaped faucet, featuring a similar product. And the logo – The put theirs in a white box, and placed it in the same spot. Hmmmm, it’s getting harder to believe that this was just a coincidence. So I went to the source – as I mentioned, Prince Lionheart had posted a statement about this controversy on their Facebook wall. So, I commented on that thread with a link to the graphic above, and said that while I wanted to believe that they had not copied the mom inventor’s product, I was concerned about the similar image. My comment was promptly deleted, I was removed as a fan, and blocked from commenting on their page again.

Wow. Didn’t see that coming.

Another fan left a comment on their wall, asking why they would delete the photo comparison. Prince Lionheart responded by stating that the issue was due to a graphic designer that they had hired – they had no idea that he had taken an image out of the original Aqueduck advertising, and pasted it into their own ads. I gave it a little thought – Ok, maybe it was a stock photo. It’s possible that when searching for “child washing hands”, two separate designers might come across the same image. The “coincidence” was now getting harder to believe, but still possible.

Aquaduck Product Image

Except that it wasn’t a stock photo.

It was a photo of the inventor’s son’s friend. At a private photo shoot, for her own advertisements. So – what do YOU think? Here’s what I’ve found today, while looking into this:

  • A major brand comes out with a product that is almost identical to one invented by a mom, before she is able to get her patent processed.
  • Their statement says that they were not aware of her product, and did not copy the idea from her at all – But they DID copy an image directly out of her own ad, and used it to promote their own version.
  • Instead of responding to questions about this issue, they monitored their Facebook wall, removing any comments that were NOT in support of their side. They said that this was to stop the controversy – yet they allowed a long string of extremely negative and condescending comments towards the mom inventor.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a screenshot of their wall earlier today – Because it is now not available. I’m guessing that they would not go so far as to delete it, so perhaps it’s just been “un-published” for now, so that no one can see or comment on the issue.

Share Your Opinion

What do you think? What would you do if this was YOUR product? A major brand like Prince Lionheart knows that a mom inventor with a small company doesn’t have the resources to challenge them in court. But perhaps the court of public opinion can make them realize their mistake here. If you’d like more information on this – Rebecca, from Smart Seat Covers wrote a post today from the viewpoint of a mom-inventor. And she brings up a good point – if we let this happen, then what about other small businesses? Rebecca says, “And because of the way that the patent system is structured, she has no legal rights until the patent on her product is issued. Even then, the piece of paper is only as good as the resources that she has to enforce it. If that is the case, where does this leave little companies like hers (and mine) whose products may be knocked off by larger, more established companies under the assumption that there is really nothing that the smaller companies can do?” If corporate America can just swoop in and take an idea from a small, mom-run business, and profit from it – and she doesn’t have the resources to fight it – that is bad news for entrepreneurs everywhere.

Two Sides to Every Story

Even if I give them the benefit of the doubt, and try to believe that the development of their product was totally independent of the Aqueduck, and not based on her design and idea – Their handling of this is completely unacceptable. I deal with negative comments on my own Facebook wall, when people don’t agree with things that I post. When a comment is extremely inappropriate, or is someone just clearly trying to cause trouble, then yes – I will delete them. But when people disagree with me, I discuss it. I always welcome respectful disagreement. I would never simply erase anything that wasn’t supportive of me. And to do so while allowing people to bad mouth the awesome woman who invented the other product being discussed? Prince Lionheart is a family-run business, creating products to help moms and their families – I would never have expected them to do something like this. Not cool, Prince Lionheart. Not cool at all.


Want to show some support for this amazing mom inventor? Leave her a comment of encouragement on her Facebook wall – Peachy LLC. Visit her website at Peachyco.com. Or purchase your own Aqueduck Bathroom Faucet Extender from Amazon.com.

Prince Lionheart may be able to delete our Facebook comments, but they can’t delete our messages on Twitter. Please retweet if you agree that this is NOT the way to market your products to moms. 

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Comments

  1. it’s totally possible it was a misunderstanding and the graphic designer copied/stole the image without the company being aware BUT them deleting your comment / hiding stories – I smell a fish in this pond…

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

      Right???

      • I just tried to access their facebook and it only takes me back to my home page. Do you think maybe they are finally feeling guilty for the theft they committed?

        • It did the same thing with me. I thought I was making a mistake or something, but I clicked again and back to my page I went. I agree that it does seem like they have stolen her idea. Especially with the photo of the little boy in their ad. Surely there is something that can be done to help her. I am sharing this on Twitter and facebook. Shame on them!

    • Their graphic designer should have known better. I’m a sophomore graphic design student and I know this is wrong. It is ILLEGAL to copy an advertisement like this. If the situation were reversed, you can bet that the big company would have sent a cease and desist letter and threatened to file a lawsuit.

      • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

        That is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying!

        So many people have said – “Oh well, that’s her own fault for putting it on the market without her patent finalized!” – even though that process can take years, and by then someone else might be already selling one. It’s best to get your own out first, and most companies realize when a patent is pending, that it doesn’t make sense to copy it.

        But if they were going to do it, then they should have used her idea, and then made it their own. That happens all the time, and is totally acceptable, right? Market it differently, find a unique way to give their message of why their product rocks. There are a million blogs out there, but I don’t copy other ones that are popular, I find a way to do something similar, but in my own way. Instead, the copied the whole look of her ad, down to the logo style and placement, and stole the images right off of her ad!

        If Prince Lionheart had invented this first, and she had made a similar product, and then stole the images out of their ads to promote hers – I’m sure that the excuse that they gave me on twitter this morning, that it was all their designers fault, and was just an “innocent mistake”, would NOT have been acceptable to them. They would have crushed her.

        • There are SOOO many products out on the market that have a patent pending… Big companies should KNOW BETTER and BE PROFESSIONAL…. it is not like they don’t have the money to do the right thing!!!!!! This is utterly IRRITATING!!!!! I WILL NOT BE PURCHASING from their company and will ask that other don’t either!

        • Bob England says:

          This used to be called dealing with the ‘Robber Barons’, in the 1980s it was called the unacceptable face of capitalism and, strictly speaking until the patents granted not much can be done.

          A side issue is: Can a spout or strapped on pouring lip be patented? it’s certainly a good idea for someone like me who likes to wash his hair under a running tap, my advice to Prince Lionheart is to acknowledge the error of their ways. offer a Royalty on sales, or buy the rights outright. They will gain market place respect, maybe a few more friends and gain closure of this matter. I do like the idea, the market might well be the industrial market, think of all those 50 gallon barrels that need to be poured out, all those 25 litre drums which need a pour lip device, give this Moms device a threaded end screw in device and make your plastic containers to fit it and it’s move over Bill Gates market, Good Luck Mom!

  2. The way I understand it, the mom inventor had actually met with Prince Lionheart at a toy expo not long before this all happened soooo for them to say that they weren’t even aware of this product until now is CRAP. I, like you, have been a big fan of theirs up until now but to see the way they’re handling this is sad and the entire situation seems pretty damn sketchy to me.

    Kudos to you for blogging about it. To many it probably won’t make a difference but to those who know what sort of time & effort goes into trying to start a small business and actually get a product out there in front of consumers, it will. It’s not fair & I hope that something is done about it.

    Have you spoken with the inventor? Last I’d HEARD (not from her) she didn’t think she could do much about it but I disagree, there sure seems to be a lot of evidence that points to PL’s wrong doing. I’d think she win a suit against them. I’m no lawyer though…

    Nicole

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

      That’s what I had heard too Nicole – But I didn’t want to mention it, since I’m not sure about that. But even if she hadn’t – I am 100%, over the top certain that Prince Lionheart would have researched to see if there was a similar product on the market before deciding to make their own. And – Look at their ad. It’s the same shaped faucet, pointing in the same direction, and even if that was a DIFFERENT set of hands, and not stolen from her own private photo session – it would be too close to be a coincidence. Sorry.

      And you’re right – the way that they’re handling it makes it super shady. If you get into a bad PR situation – address it, don’t hide. Hiding and avoiding it does not help, not a bit. And to go so far as to ban me, a long-time fan, from their page for asking a question in a professional way? I find that to be super extreme. It was one question, and when they responded, while I didn’t agree, I also did not comment. Nope – blocked completely. Crazy.

      And I do hope that by retweeting, and sharing this info – we can spread the word enough that something CAN be done to help her!! :)

    • Even if she can’t do anything about the product (and even with a patent, it seems like the way theirs attaches to the sink is different enough to pass patent muster), she CAN do something about the photo. Photographs are considered art, and as such they belong to the person who took them and permission must be granted for someone else to use them.

  3. This is pretty infuriating. I agree, there may be a few circumstances where perhaps Prince Lionheart is not as at fault as it may seem, but they way they are handling comments on their wall is very unprofessional and suspicious.
    Very disappointing!

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

      Very suspicious. I have never, ever been banned from a page before. I’m a grown up, and a business woman myself, and not someone who wants to look crazy and accusatory on a public Facebook wall. I simply posted the link to the comparison graphic, and asked them why their ads could be so very similar if they were unaware of the product, and why they had cut and pasted the actual child’s hands out of her advertisement?

      We all know that person – You ask them a question, and they blow up, blame it on you, and walk away before you can respond. 99% of the time, it’s because they’re wrong. They don’t have a way to discuss it with you, because they have no real defense. It’s looking more and more to me like that is the case here….

      • Exactly. The deleting/banning going on at their Facebook page makes them seem way more guilty…

        • Shaunna says:

          I’m not sure you specifically were targeted and “deleted” or banned – it could be that they closed the page until the controversy subsides or is dealt with – I haven’t made ANY comments about it and still can’t access their page … they’ve obviously made some sort of faux pas here that requires immediate attention and are in a bit of a PR disaster – we’ll see what happens …

          • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

            The page is unpublished right now – The owner of Prince Lionheart said that this is so that she can spend time with her family over the weekend, and not have to monitor the page, and that it will be up next week. She suggested that we all do the same – forget all about this, and go enjoy our families. I was a bit offended with the way it was phrased, like – “Don’t worry your pretty little head about all of this business. Just put your apron back on, and go bake your husband a pie…” She may want to forget about it, and ignore it, but the mom inventor isn’t able to just forget it, you know?

            But yes, before they removed their page, they were deleting all comments that didn’t agree with them, and were also deleting any posts that asked questions or voiced concerns, no matter how politely they were asked. They did, however, allow all comments bashing the mom business owner to stay up. There are a few people with screen shots that I may post, to show examples of what was happening. If they had just deleted the whole conversation, that would be acceptable. It’s fair to say that you don’t want your page to be taken over by a controversy. But, by NOT responding to questions, and just deleting them and pretending that they didn’t happen, you’re not helping people to understand your side of the story – It makes it look as though you’re trying to cover it up.

            I had posted the link to the side by side graphic, and asked how – if they were stating that they were not aware of her product, and had never seen it, how could they have an ad with her own images in it? When I went back a few minutes later, to see if they had an explanation that might make sense, they had deleted my question, removed me as a fan – and I was blocked from being able to “like” them and leave an additional comment or question. I felt that was incredibly harsh and unfair?

            I’m just so surprised by the reactions from Prince Lionheart – the owner of the company, in her new statement, also said that she had never even seen the other product, or visited it’s website, and had no idea that her versions of the product were also in the exact same colors. I have a hard time believing that no one on the team that brought this product to production EVER looked at the competition, and that no one had any idea what it looked like, and that the designer working totally alone copied the ad, and no one ever noticed it was the same graphics and layout that the competitor used – she even had the full pictures, with her in it, on the Amazon sale page.

            I wish that they had a better explanation for all of this. I want to believe that it was a mistake, and still be able to support a company I’ve always really liked – But, the more they say, the worse it gets.

  4. Christine says:

    Kiiind of freaky that they used the same image–her OWN image and claimed they didn’t know about her product. Right, so they ignored the whole rest of the ad while they stole her picture? Doubtful. And can’t they get in trouble for using her picture at least!?

  5. It is obvious from the similarity of the photos that Prince Lionheart knew they were ripping off the idea and the ad. The first thing I noticed with the same wrist in each picture. There may be a slim possibility that their ad designer did it without them knowing. If so, I hope he/she was promptly fired. But still, the poor way of dealing with it is what gets me. Deleting and blocking FB fans who have figured out the connection and voiced their concern? That makes them look more guilty in my eyes.

    I retweeted your post too!

    • if anything they will get introuble for copyright infringement becasue her product must have been available sooner. That being said the fact that the image was not publicsized since it was from her own private collection is downright copyright infringement whenter she had a patent or not. the fact that she produces it is known as a poor boy copyright. So i am sure she has enough proof to show that she made it first. I would definately persue it becasue you cant even imagine what an attourney would do even on contingency with this case. They stand to make alot of money if she were to sue PL. Especially if they are foundf guilty which is pretty apparent with how they are handling things. This is one brand i will never buy from again.

  6. As a graphic designer and running a website I know its touchy when it comes to using images but its clearly a copywrite issue reagardinh the hands..as for patents it sucks but these big companies do this all the time swooping in on an idea that hasn’t been patented yet..sadly. but if she gets the rights to the patent she then has the right to sue, or at least collect royalties

  7. Rachel H says:

    Did you check the patent w/the US Patent & Trademark site? If Peachy didn’t patent then what Prince Lionheart may or may not have done is irrelevant. Because I checked and Peachy does NOT have a current patent on ANY product. Even PENDING patents come up. And this product shouldn’t have hit the market or web until it was submitted. How wasn’t it completed? If it was submitted but under review all things can be produced by whomever LEGALLY and when the patent DOES come thru she can take action. And if she was in first? She should hope it sells off the shelves for PL. Do you know the MONEY she would get? Who cares if they stole it. They could make her millions by this goof up.
    For instance do a search on Apples patent on smartphone aspects. They have waited for YEARS to get the patent on Android. I think it had to do w/touchscreens. Doesn’t mean they will win the lawsuits, but Android and others clearly infringed on Apple ideas. But Apple had to wait.
    Rights may be reserved for the LLC and site, so the graphic image may or may not be copyrighted. Even then, if something is altered dramatically in any way more often then not, its not illegal anyhow. Just like StockPhoto (and similar stock photo sites) prohibits logos being produced in any way from its images. But you see Mom Bloggers everywhere altering the photo’s so they can be used as headers and logos; which is perfectly legal. Should the major brand have used a different kids hands? Sure. But did they alter it, refine it, and put their own design flair into production? Yup.
    If infringement does exist then its on the Mom-Inventor to deal w/this. Not you, and not in this way. A stealth wheel goes a lot farther then a squeaky one in the settlement aspect. Especially if the major brand didn’t want it public that an employee copied something like this, even if it is perfectly legal right now. And of course they are deleting comments, wouldn’t you do the same if you believe YOU were right on your own fb wall?
    Stand up for the Mom…but in a way that it helps her instead.

    • The inventor has filed a patent, but it can take up to 18 months for pending patents to be published and you wouldn’t be able to find the patent online if it hasn’t been published as yet. Also, she may not have assigned the patent to her company; my filed-but-not-yet-issued patent application is in my own name and she could have done the same.

  8. Hi Meagan! Thank you so much for posting about this issue. As a mom inventor, it is a scary world when a major company takes on a small, independently owned mom business. I am glad we live in the digital age which most definitely gives us an advantage through social networks, blogs and other media outlets. I belong to Mompact as well and am familiar with Susanna’s story. It is a fact that the PL owner purchased the Aqueduck last year from her website and had it sent to PL’s corporate office. It is also a fact that they requested information on her patent-pending status. This completely disgusts me not only as a mom-inventor but as a consumer. I used to think very highly of Prince Lionheart and their reputation of being a family-owned company. All I can think now is shame! Thanks again for helping us fight the good fight!!!

  9. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me, I think they screwed her over with complete knowledge of doing so…not that my opinion matters much but I feel sorry for the inventor! It’s just sad!

  10. It says she was in the process of a patent BUT she should have never put it out there until it was 100% protected. There are always conpanies and people out there lurking to steal and idea for people. Its the cold hard truth of the world :( Anything to make a buck and they don’t care how they do it. Hopefully sharing this story will help other moms or smaller businesses relize to NOT share a product you thought of and invented until its protected 100 %.

    • Hey, Ashlee-

      I filed a patent for my shot pain reliever Buzzy in 2006; we only JUST got the claims approved a month ago. You are protected by your file date, e.g. October 4 2006, but can’t start prosecuting until the patent issues. It’s usually published 6 – 24 months after you submit, then approved months to years later. If the patent is approved, it IS 100% protected. This is why people put “patent pending” on their products; actually, since you can still improve the patent by filing continuations, so many people use the strategy of keeping the patent pending and thus in play to protect from infringement.

      Bottom Line: Aqueduck did exactly right to protect themselves, but without money to enforce a patent Prince Lionheart can crush her anyway.

      • Amy, just wanted to say thank you for Buzzy! My sister has juvenile dermatomyositis and has to give herself methotrexate injections once a week and she LOVES Buzzy! Her pediatric rhumatologist reccommended it and we absolutely love it. It helps distract her from the pain. :) Great job with a wonderful product!

  11. Well that is just truly rotten. Just another example of how big corporations take advantage of the little guy. Very disappointed.

  12. Thank you for sharing this post, your opinion and standing up for the Mom Inventor. It is unfortunate that big companies, for any product, feel that it is their right to take, steal, copy, reproduce others ideas without acknowledgement or payment.

    I have to agree, that the babies hands are almost like a confession. I hope that she has a good lawyer (or one comes to bat for her) and that she is compensated for the potential loss. You won’t find me buying PL products any longer.

  13. Rachel’s comments are very interesting. It is true that this inventor may not have a legal leg to stand on. The image is the same, but I believe it is legally considered “altered art,” which is what I had to do in order to sell a lot of the jewelry I once made for my Etsy shop.

    Since there are a lot of Mom inventors out there this may be a good time for some education on patents and copyrights. Bloggers need this as well, because we face legal hurdles every day – particularly with the use of photos that blur the line between copyright-infringement and fair-use.

    With that, it’s still a very crummy thing to do and I would rather drive people to purchase the Aquaduck than this other product (that looks boring, anyway!)

  14. Wow, they could have dealt with that a lot differently! Although I’ve never heard of either company, it will now always leave a bad taste in my mouth for prince lion heart. I hope peachy llc has much success.

  15. Great post! I’m so glad you brought this to light. I particularly like reading the comments. As a fellow mompreneur and Mompact member I cannot imagine how it would feel to have to deal with something like this! PL did handle this so unprofessionaly. That shocks me. I do like the points that were brought out in the discussion. Education is key. I truly hope this all works out well for Peachy LLC.! Thanks again for sharing this amazing story! I will be doing the same!

  16. I did a post on this as well. And I too dislike how PL handled it on Facebook. Censoring people who have questions (just because they are not in favor of PL) isn’t the way to go. I was in no way stating without a doubt that they for sure stole Peachy’s idea but wanted questions answered as to the similarity as well as the cropped image that they were using for advertising. They didn’t want to answer the questions. The owner stepped in and denied everything. And although they admitted searching for patents and saw an application for one on this product, they still went ahead and produced the same thing (just different colors), after receiving a sample or two from Peachy. And they also admitted that the image in their advertising was hers. Instead of apologizing to Peachy for using her image, they just brushed it off like it was nothing. They would just quit using the image. Well, I guess that solves everything. I’m sorry but the whole thing looks too fishy and it all points to the fact that PL is dishonest. Yes, I know that big corporations steal ideas from the little guys because they can but is it right? They’re taking money from the families of those who invented the products. And then give some lame excuses for doing so. PL is/was in the wrong in using her image. They should make a public apology to Peachy. And if Peachy’s patent DOES go through, she should take all of this information to court and see if she can gain anything from it. I took screenshots of the comments being made by PL yesterday. So, if she needs them, I am more than happy to give them to her. They can delete comments and change their FB page but they already put the admittance letters out there. Isn’t technology grand?

  17. Very messy situation that I’m sure PL wishes they could wash their hands of right now

  18. while i think it would be just wrong to steel it i love the idea of it. What is wrong with people that they cant come up with their own stuff anymore

  19. I think this is crap. I like to give ppl the benefit of the doubt but they keep doing things that makes them look more and more guilty! I hope this mom can get what is rightfully hers in the end and PL gets what they deserve too!

  20. It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether Prince Lionheart knew about the existence of the Aquaduck before developing their product. What does matter is what they choose to do right now. I truly hope they understand the potential impact that their current actions could have on their entire brand and product portfolio going forward. I’ve purchased and used Prince Lionheart products before, and they often have “me-too” products that are just a slightly different answer to the same “problem”. Their strength is bringing useful, reasonably-priced products to market quickly and that is what they have done in this case as well, except that this time they have chosen an idea that has pending intellectual property.

    Though legally Prince Lionheart probably hasn’t yet broken any laws, I would love to see them be proactive about working with the inventor towards a mutually beneficial licensing agreement. It might just save their reputation with me and other consumers in their target market.

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

      Thank you for such a great response.

      This is the part that really bothered me – Not that they made a similar product, since as you mention – that happens often. And if they’d come up with their own original ad for it, they would have probably been just fine. But to make a very similar product, and then copy the ad as well, makes it all really wrong. And if they’d addressed the issues, instead of just covering them up and deleting the questions and comments from fans on their Facebook page. I’ve never had that happen to me before.

      And, you’re right – whether they broke laws or not, they didn’t handle this right at all. Honestly, they should have predicted that they’d get some backlash on this, and had a plan in place to deal with it. I hope that they do what’s right and fair now, and that they are able to find an agreement!

  21. Even as a blogger, one of the hardest things to understand is how to protect yourself and your interests… I hope for the Mompreneur’s sake that she continues the fight both legally and in the social media. Thanks for such an important post on this subject

  22. This is really upsetting. As a mom who is in the midst of creating a product…it’s important we protect against this exact thing. I really think we all need to spread the word I will be sharing this article everywhere and I think all moms should do the same. We are very powerful together..and this will cause others to think before they do this again and hopefully this mother will be compensated for her idea.

  23. Funny, the hands in the pic were the FIRST thing I noticed. I hope they don’t get away with it.

  24. Change.org would be the perfect place to rally support. Have the mom inventor or someone else starts petition to get Prince Lionheart to make amends. Millions of people sign change.org petitions and they have made progress on some pretty big issues.

  25. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    I went over to offer support. It’s pretty obvious what’s happened.

  26. Prince Lionheart is also a family owned company who does everything in their power to help their customers. They are so helpful and giving I think this is all a big misunderstanding, and I hope this little thing blows over and Prince Lionheart continues making their AMAZING products! This is nothing new anyway, people have have been making these out of shampoo bottles for years.

    • cat: If that is so then why does k mcconnelll’/princelionheart’s LOOK EXACTLY LIKE SUSANNA’S AQUADUCK and not like a cut shampoo bottle.

  27. hard to deny that those sweet little chubby hands belong to the same child! Terrible!

  28. Wow, that is frustrating. Hopefully if nothing else, the word will get out and people will be supportive of peachy. Makes me want to go buy stuff from them! I probably will the next time I have a babyshower or something where I can use their products as gifts as I don’t have kiddos of my own.

  29. If she can’t get them for stealing her product she should be able to get them for stealing her photo and ad. Surely there is an attorney who will work with her on this without money up front. This company clearly is doing everything they can to keep her product from being sold. The product she came up with!

  30. Hello,
    I met Susanna at the Baby Expo last fall and really appreciated her story. My wife and I own BabyPro.com which has been a child safety product website for ten years. We believe in family business and promote products like the Aqueduck and the Sippy Sure. We will continue to push the Aquaduck . We have a mom invented product as well, the JackMat fireplace hearth cushion. We had a company infringe on our patent and even get a patent passed through for the same product. Unfortunately, what it was going to cost to fight it was outside of our means. Keep pushing forward Aqueduck! This is just another example of the craziness going on in this great country.

  31. This seems awfully fishy to me, BUT…IF we give PL the benefit of the doubt, and say they did not know about the product, and that their graphic designer made the ad without their knowledge of where he got the image, they still have the question to answer of why now that they DO know where the image came from, they are continuing to use an illegally copied image?!

  32. I just checked, and PL’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prince-Lionheart/208219775290) is disabled. The Facebook link on their website doesn’t go anywhere. This must be turning into a quite the PR problem and they’re in damage control mode. Well done, blogosphere!

    Not to be conspiracy-minded, but it looks like you might have some PL folks gushing about their company on your post.

  33. Part of the problem with this issue is that a patent for a sink water diverter was already applied for in 2006 http://www.google.com/patents/US20070175531 and actually rejected because they considered the idea of diverting water in this way to not be novel because of prior inventions. So, any patents on these kinds of product are going to have to be based on something other than diverting water with a spout itself, such as how the spout attaches to the sink. If you look at the two products, that part is different.

    The larger company may be handling this issue poorly, and certainly made a poor choice regarding their promotional materials (I mean, seriously what were they thinking?), but from a patent stand point, they are unlikely to be legally in the wrong.

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

      Hi Dana – Thanks for sharing the info. I can totally get that the whole patent area is more of a gray issue, and legally, she may not have a lot that she can do. And as a few people have mentioned to me on Facebook – this is an idea that many moms had been doing for years, with plastic bottles or other makeshift gadgets. So, if they had developed their similar product, I would have just considered it a bummer for the mom, but that’s how things go, you know?

      But, I just cannot believe that they could make the mistake of not only stealing the actual graphic in her ad, but also to clearly copy the whole layout, down to the placement of their logo in a white box, in the same position. You do NOT want to steal the advertisement of your competitors similar product, and then say that you did not copy their product. It just makes them look foolish. I’m shocked that such a mistake could be made by what is usually a very smart company?

      And, in their statements, Prince Lionheart’s owner claims to not have ever seen the advertising for the competitor, so she had no idea that her own companies ad was similar. But she does admit to having purchased the Aqueduck products as part of their research in developing their own product. If they were aware of hers, and researching it, I would think that they had been aware of how she advertised and marketed her product as well, wouldn’t you?

      But, even with all of it, the part that really upset me the most, and made me question their values as a company, was when they released their statement on Facebook. I shared the link to the side by side comparison, and asked why there was the copying of the ad, if there was no copying of the product? I was wondering how they could say in their statement that they were not aware of her product, if their ad had her actual photo in it? I was hoping for some type of reasonable explanation. Instead – they deleted it. When I asked about that on Twitter, they said that they were removing anything false claims about their company. YET…. My claim was not false. They did in fact steal her photo, and later admitted it. And while they were quickly deleting “false claims” about their own company, they allowed 20+ comments to remain, that were bashing the mom inventor. I mean, they were super catty, rude, and just awful comments, making fun of her.

      As a family owned business, who knew that they had indeed made a very big mistake in stealing the inventors photo, they should have had better values when handling this, and not allow the inventor to be slandered across their page, while deleting anything questioning themselves. If they’d deleted the whole conversation, that would be fine. But to only delete one side of the conversation, not appropriate. How embarrassing and stressful that must have been for the mother who invented this – to watch people bash her publicly when she was not the one in the wrong.

  34. Sunshine and Sippy Cups says:

    UPDATE: Prince Lionheart DID make a new statement this weekend on the Mompact Facebook page. Here is their statement:
    I am writing this to let you all know that your voices have been heard surrounding the release of our faucet extender. I understand the anger and frustration that you are feeling, because I am feeling it too. I am a mom and fellow inventor leading Prince Lionheart, our family’s business, through its second generation. Many of the comments surrounding this issue are misinformed, hurtful and libelous. Rest assured, my family’s company is not in the business of stealing ideas. In fact, we are doing everything we can to address this issue in a professional manner, with integrity in tact.

    In response to some of the contentious topics of discussion:

    Patent: Nobody has any patent protection on this product, and no ideas have been stolen. Competition is a cornerstone of the US free market system and we just want to compete fairly on the merits of our product.

    Hands: this issue was brought to our attention yesterday. The designer we used should have never used this when working on our stuff. This was wrong and for that, I am truly sorry. As soon as this issue was brought to our attention, we addressed it immediately and the hands are no longer in use.

    Colors: I am unaware of the colors of the competition as I have never been to their website, but our bath and potty colors – grey, pink and blue – are consistent across the board and results of color studies initiated years ago.

    Copying products: my dad invented a number of firsts that have patent protection and have since become a commodity, i.e. dishwasher baskets, Seatsavers, appliance style wipes warmer, etc. Competition keeps us on our toes and continually seeking better from ourselves for our customers.

    Facebook: we have disabled this site for the weekend so we can enjoy time with our families. We are not avoiding negative comments, but will not entertain libelous or ill-informed ones. If you’d like to contact me directly, please do so, but I will respond next week as my time with my family comes before work: kmcconnell@princelionheart.com

    On behalf of my family, I wish you all a nice weekend with your families.

    Kelly

    If you’d like to comment on it, you can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/Mompact/posts/343982988978727

    Here is how I feel about this apology –

    It is insincere. She does not, as the owner of the company, take ownership of the mistake – she passes it off on someone else. It’s hard to believe that one person acted alone, came up with the idea to copy the competitors ad, stole their image, and that no one else in the company had ever seen the competing ads before. If they went as far as to order the competitors product to research it while designing their own {which they admit to doing} – then I’m sure that they also researched how she advertised and marketed her product as well.

    She talks about how her father invented many products that others copied, and that competition keeps us on our toes. To me, this is excusing the copying of the product, it’s just “how business is done”. That may be true, but it’s not the type of business practices that I want to support with my purchases.

    “We have disabled this site for the weekend so we can enjoy time with our families. We are not avoiding negative comments, but will not entertain libelous or ill-informed ones.” But they will entertain ill-informed ones against the inventor. And, I’m glad that when they make a major mistake, instead of dealing with it, they just want to toss it aside for the weekend to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned family time. No reason to take time to respond to upset customers – you’ll get to it later.

    And her suggestion that we all do the same – As though, she is being a good mom, and letting this all go to be with her family, so we should all just forget about it too. Come on ladies – Get back in the kitchen, tie those apron strings back on, and bake your husband a pie. By the time she’s done relaxing with her family, and brings their Facebook page back to give you a chance to have your questions answered – You’ll have forgotten all about this.

    I think that what was needed was a sincere and honest admission that they messed up. As a store manager in retail – if my team messed up, ultimately I was responsible. If she hired a designer who had such low morals, and a team that was so inept that they never once, ever, checked out the competitors advertising strategy – and the owner states that she never has visited the competitors website – then YOU as the owner are responsible for all of those missteps. And, an apology for the hurtful comments you allowed your fans to make about the inventor would go a long way towards making this right.

    Come on Prince Lionheart – You are better than this. I hope that you are able to make this right for your customers and fans, as well as the inventor who’s images you stole. Then you can go back to doing the good things that you have been doing for years.

  35. This is just awful! I hope the mom is able to crush them! :)

  36. Kelly (Owner of Prince Lionheart) has made a statement over on their FB page this morning, posted here -> http://www.facebook.com/PrinceLionheartFamily/posts/10151344868125291 Honestly they have no way of knowing where the creator of the ad gets any of their pictures I would assume they figured this person was a professional and would never steal images. Now that they know they have apologized numerous times and are NOT currently using the image. As for the patent other company’s have tried to patent the same idea Prince Lionheart won’t be the first or the last company to ‘come out with’ this same product design. It’s called competition.

    A note from Kelly:

    On my way to work today, I found myself reflecting on all that has transpired since Friday afternoon when I first caught wind of the Facebook activity surrounding the launch of our Faucet Extender. Friday started out as a particularly great day. A handful of Prince Lionheart colleagues were at my home for a creative brainstorm session intended to pave the way for our next 40 years. The sun was shining, our banter was passionate and lively, and we enjoyed a home-cooked lunch in my backyard before someone called from the office to share the news that our Facebook page was heating up. In an instant, we put our collaborative session on hold while we attempted to understand what was happening.

    My job is first to raise my son, and second to guide our family’s business in the best way I know how. When the impassioned comments first started coming, my knee jerk was to delete, delete, delete. Was it the right call to make? Perhaps not, but it just didn’t seem right to sit back and have our family’s name, company and reputation called into question due to one person’s dissemination of misinformation. I am certified in forklift driving because our business needs warranted it, but I have never been schooled in PR or PR strategy as we have never had to defend ourselves from such an attack before. There were certainly times this weekend when I wished we were big enough to have a heavy hitting PR firm on retainer so they could wade through the waters of discontent while I enjoyed the weekend with my family. Unfortunately, this is not who we are… we are a close-knit family business who digs deep and rolls up our sleeves to keep pedaling the bike.

    Given that this is uncharted territory for us, I am first to admit that there are ways we could have done things differently, if not better. Many of you voiced your frustration after we temporarily unpublished our US Facebook page. Since we could not actively engage over the weekend, this was done so that our family and employees could enjoy the weekend and good weather with our kids. I use the term “enjoy” loosely, as this issue weighed heavily on our hearts and minds: it plain ol’ sucks to be judged professionally and personally by people who either don’t know the full story, or don’t care to consider the facts before passing judgment. I was unaware of people being banned from our site, but rest assured we will reverse this as people are entitled to their opinions. I just ask the opinions be formed after considering the facts. I am also unaware of any unflattering personal comments being made about anyone (other than myself), which is not nice. I have asked for these to be deleted, and we will aspire to do so, though I understand it may not be as straightforward as that due to chains of comments or something technical like that. Going forward, I ask that people remember that we are all humans who are passionate about life with family and our products, and conduct themselves respectfully.

    If anyone actually knew me, they’d know that I am the world’s worst Facebooker. Until this weekend, I had never posted anything. Yet, I found myself on the sidelines of a t-ball game feeling compelled to chime in and present our side of the story, even if it often took multiple posting attempts and rewrites on my phone due to my Facebook ineptitude.

    If anyone actually knew my family and the people in our Prince Lionheart family, they would know that we are good human beings who value integrity, honesty, family, hard work and fun. We have not made a name for ourselves over the course of 39 years by infringing on the intellectual property rights of others. We are not perfect, and have made mistakes, but we assume responsibility for those mistakes as accountability is something we expect from others, ourselves included. With that said, I already accepted complete responsibility for the hands image, provided an explanation as to how it happened, apologized for the oversight of approval, learned from the mistake, and have already taken the necessary steps to remedy the situation. There’s not much more I can do or say.

    With regard to the patent issue, while I realize this is not a field that is familiar to most, the fact of the matter is that the competitor’s application is pending. An application does not mean that the applicant is the first inventor nor that the applicant is deserving of any patent protection, simply that patent protection is sought. The irony in this situation is that Peachy LLC was not the first to file for a patent. Another individual had already filed a patent application previously for a faucet extender, making the same claims, but that was rejected by the US Patent Office.

    With regard to the infringement issue, no rights have been infringed, and should the patent office choose to grant a patent, then Prince Lionheart will certainly respect any rights deemed worthy. In the meantime, we ask that we are able to compete fairly on the merits of our product, which is after all, what gives us moms the freedom of choice when we go to the store. Can you imagine only one choice of bottles, wipes, diapers… really anything?

    Where does this leave us? Well, I certainly appreciate the passion that I see coming from people in support of pursuing the American Dream, I just hope it is tempered with dignity and respect for both parties as we go forward. I also appreciate those who have shown their continued support for our family’s company, having spent the time to fully inform themselves. As I’ve said before, I am open to answer any questions or comments that you may have. My brother and I are making ourselves available today to address any questions not yet addressed, and should you feel so compelled to reach out to me directly, please do so. My email address is kmcconnell@princelionheart.com. I work an abbreviated work schedule: part days Monday, all day Tuesday and Friday, as I am with my young son the other days, so please be patient with my responses.

    Kelly McConnell

  37. This is HORRIBLE!

    I cannot believe that would blatantly thieve like this and then not offer their sincerest apologies.

    Terrible

  38. I support the mom!

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