One of my favorite daily deal websites, Babysteals, recently featured a product that I thought was a must-have for any home with young children- the Aqueduck Faucet Extender. As most moms of toddlers know, teaching your little one to wash their hands can be difficult when, most often than not, they are unable to reach the running water even with a step stool. You end up having to lift them up everytime, holding them with one arm, and trying to help them wash their hands with the other.
The Aqueduck Faucet Extender is a clever little plastic tool that you simply slide over the head of your faucet and it allows the water to flow further forward so it can reach small hands and arms.
Aqueduck was invented by a mom in her garage, and she now sells them under her company Peachy LLC. We love mom invented products because who knows children best? We do! These faucet extenders are a big hit, and are great for home, the grandparents house, or you can even carry a spare in your purse for when your little one uses public restrooms. They are sold here for $12.99 and come in three colors: blue, pink or grey. They fit over most faucets, except swan neck faucets.
And then, Hollie emailed me this post. And I was in shock.
If you don’t have time to read the post, blogger Meagan states that children’s product maker Prince Lionheart took the yet-to-be-patented idea of the Aqueduck from this small family run business and copied it. They started making their version, simply called, the Faucet Extender. She lists reasons behind her thoughts, mainly that Prince Lionheart used, what Meagan claims, is Peachy LLC’s photo of the Aqueduck being used:
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.
That photo has disappeared from Meagan’s website and from Prince Lionheart’s advertising of their Faucet Extender, as Meagan was absolutely right- it was a copy of Peachy LLC’s photo that they took in a personal photoshoot. Not cool, Prince Lionheart, not cool. They have since apologized for this.
But the story doesn’t end there. When people started creating a storm on Prince Lionheart’s Facebook page, comments got deleted. What was the public’s first thought? Guilt. So Prince Lionheart’s owner and fellow mom, Kelly McConnell, issued a long statement on their page, which included the following:
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?
In the comments section below, a user asks if a personal apology was issued to Peachy LLC for the theft of the photos, to which Ms McConnell replies:
A private apology has already been extended to Ms. Lee and corrective action has already been taken on our side.
Great to hear Prince Lionheart have contacted Peachy LLC personally to apologize.
Any momtrepeneurs should take notes from this very important lesson- if you have a great product that you want to release, try to get the patent as quickly as you can.