What's creative, collaborative, and lacks access to GE Appliances' patents? Until this week, crowd-source invention company Quirky would not have been an accurate response, but times have changed.
Quirky hosts a community of amateur inventors and designers who work together to bring good ideas to reality. The company then sells the resulting products. Last year, Quirky entered into a partnership with GE, which opened GE's patents to the Quirky community for use as inspiration. The two also produced a co-branded line of smart home products.
But since its inception over a year ago the open-patent platform has not yielded any direct community inventions, and the loss of these patents likely won't help toward that end.
As soon as GE Appliances officially falls into the hands of Electrolux, Quirky's ability to view and use GE's appliance patents is no more. It's a blow the company initially tried to avoid by pairing with Blackstone Group to bid on GE's appliance business. But with Electrolux emerging as victor it appears there’s nothing more that can be done—well, nothing but removing some 500 patents from Quirky’s website.
Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman informed his community of the GE acquisition in a brief note, but offered only reassurance. "I want you to know that this in no way affects our business, plans, or relationship with GE," he wrote. "GE will continue to be a key partner of ours, and will continue to invest in our community and their inventions."
GE spokesman Seth Martin echoed the sentiment, assuring The Wall Street Journal's "Corporate Intelligence" blog that "GE and Quirky will continue to partner to grow connected devices, which will include home technologies in areas like automation, energy, and lighting."
Regardless of patent access, products created through this collaboration will continue to be released, with a batch coming out this holiday season. The products will connect to the Wink app, which allows for remote control of co-branded GE and Quirky devices, among others.
Previous inventions released through the partnership will not be lost as a result of the inaccessible patents, either—although we can't imagine many are looking to purchase the Aros smart air conditioner ($279) as the summer rolls to a close. Perhaps the Pivot Power Genius ($59.99) smart power strip would be a more seasonally appropriate option?
Source: Corporate Intelligence