Sherrill squashes Sidewinder

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11 years 7 months ago - 11 years 7 months ago #133050 by moss
Sherrill squashes Sidewinder was created by moss
Many of you may have heard by now that Sherrill Tree has threatened legal action and forced Jeff Newman to withdraw the Sidewinder from retail sales. Apparently the claim is that the Sidewinder infringes on Sherrill's Big Shot patent. I'm not privy to the discussion between Sherrill's legal representatives and Jeff Newman but from what I can gather that is Sherrill's claim. This is a textbook case where a relatively large company has legal resources on retainer and an individual inventor has little recourse even if their counter claim has merit. There is no \"public defender\" for unfair patent suits. I think any layman can compare the Big Shot head and the Sidewinder and see that they have significant design and functional differences. Furthermore Jeff's most excellent invention addresses specific needs of the rec climber that the Big Shot does not meet. Forcing it off the market deprives the rec climbing community of access to an excellent tool.

I believe this type of bullying tactic is unacceptable, a grave injustice and is offensive to the rec tree climbing community. It is the creativity and innovative spirit of individuals like Jeff that defines the best qualities of our community. I am now boycotting Sherrill Tree retail products until Jeff Newman is released from the threat of legal action by Sherrill lawyers. Any gear purchased from Sherrill that I now use will be phased out and replaced as soon as possible. I will not attend any rec climbing event that Sherrill Tree participates in as a sponsor.

If enough rec climbers take a stand against Sherrill's heavy-handed tactics I believe we can return the Sidewinder to its righteous place as an available and useful rec tree climber's tool.

I just wanted to say that I'm writing this and boycotting Sherrill Tree on my own initiative and am not acting at the request of Jeff Newman or any other individuals or businesses associated with rec tree climbing. I'm acting on what I see as the best interest of the rec tree climbing community. I'm not rolling over and I hope you don't.
-Andrew Joslin (moss)
Last edit: 11 years 7 months ago by moss.

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11 years 7 months ago #133051 by Davej
Replied by Davej on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
As someone who just placed an order with Sherrill I'm disappointed to hear of this legal conflict. It would be interesting to know what patents held by Sherrill are related to this product. I think US patents can now be found online.

http://patft.uspto.gov/

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11 years 7 months ago - 11 years 7 months ago #133052 by Baker
Replied by Baker on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
Moss,

As I am not familiar with the sidewinder, can you provide a more detailed description (and maybe even some pics) so we climbers can make an educated assessment and comparison. I'd be interested to see the two launchers side-by-side, since I have been kicking such a purchase around.

EDIT: Never mind about the pics I found them on Canopy Chatter. I see similarities, in purpose of course, but the folding design, which I like, should be enough to separate the two.

The photos I found were in a wish list section of the CC forum. I didn't copy them here because I'm not a member there. Didn't think it was right...Moss?
Last edit: 11 years 7 months ago by Baker.

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11 years 7 months ago #133053 by oldtimer
Replied by oldtimer on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
This is not a matter of having a patent or Not having one. Jeff could not afford to patent his sidewinder even if he tried. Only rich companies can do that these days and then you will have to defend your product against copycats. Not even worth it.!

In this particular case I would like to know more of the details of Sherril's claim but it seen to me like a simple case of the guy with the heavier hammer putting his competition out of business by force and not by merits. :blush:

I am pretty sure Jeff is not even able to respond because he will be sued for defamation next.:dry:

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11 years 7 months ago #133054 by Baker
Replied by Baker on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
oldtimer wrote:

This is not a matter of having a patent or Not having one. Jeff could not afford to patent his sidewinder even if he tried. Only rich companies can do that these days and then you will have to defend your product against copycats. Not even worth it.!

In this particular case I would like to know more of the details of Sherril's claim but it seen to me like a simple case of the guy with the heavier hammer putting his competition out of business by force and not by merits. :blush:

I am pretty sure Jeff is not even able to respond because he will be sued for defamation next.:dry:


If that indeed is the case, then anyone wishing to purchase Jeff's device should contact him directly to do so. Everyone has a right to earn a living - IMHO!

Jeff, if you're reading this...Press on! Don't let big money back you down! I would like to get a launcher, maybe in the summer. Drop me a line with details and pricing. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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11 years 7 months ago #133055 by Davej
Replied by Davej on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
Isn't sueing the \"American way?\"

http://abcnews.go.com/WaterCooler/wireStory?id=6641910

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11 years 7 months ago #133056 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
Davej wrote:

Isn't sueing the \"American way?\"

http://abcnews.go.com/WaterCooler/wireStory?id=6641910


And it's fair to critique that \"way\" when the rec tree climbing community is effected. My feeling is that just because someone (a business entity for example) has the right to sue or threaten suit, doesn't mean they have to. Sometimes a nuanced analysis that looks beyond immediate self-interest is a good next step beforeg moving to legal smackdown.
-moss

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11 years 7 months ago #133057 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
I had a conversation on the topic with Tobe Sherrill this afternoon. Tobe has solid business reasons for opposing what he sees as patent infringement on the Big Shot. It's easy for those of us who do not have business dollars at stake to second guess and it's easy to pose Tobe as the big bad wolf. I also recognize that Tobe has been a strong contributor to the rec climbing community and don't disregard that. However, I remain firm in believing that compromise and nuance is advisable in dealing with the Sidewinder situation. This is not a Big Shot knock-off, it is a very different device. In particular the swing arm feature and method for attaching the latex tubing are radically different from the Big Shot design. The sling shot head attachment method to a completely different type of pole is also unique. If I was a patent attorney I would say that those are three identifiable innovations that are patentable in themselves.

Big Shot patent infringement has not been proved, only suggested by a patent attorney, each side has an argument. I hope that Tobe can put legalities aside and can work further with Jeff to allow him to manufacture and distribute the Sidewinder without threat of lawsuit. I'm going to stay with my position of not purchasing Sherrill Tree retail products until a better agreement is reached on the Sidewinder.
-moss

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11 years 7 months ago - 11 years 7 months ago #133058 by Baker
Replied by Baker on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
It's like Ford suing Chevy. The two products do the same job, but are really very different. One is compact, folds for easy transportation, and is made of plastic and steel. The other is hopelessly bulky, doesn't fold, made completely of steel, and doesn't fit well in a backpack. Similar?

Here's an interesting thought...If anyone has a sidewinder, you should beg Peter and Patty to enter it into Gear Rater!
Last edit: 11 years 7 months ago by Baker.

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11 years 7 months ago #133059 by pattyjenkins
Replied by pattyjenkins on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
Hi everybody,
Peter and I considered putting the sidewinder up on our gear rater, and we talked with Jeff about it. We decided against it because he's stopped making it and so it's not available anywhere for purchase; and because we did not want to put Jeff in a position which might make him vulnerable to legal attack. If an agreement can be worked out between Tobe and Jeff, we'd love to put it up for everyone to see.

And by the way, does anybody have any other suggestions for our gear rater? Peter and I will be going through it soon to get rid of items that are outdated. We'd sure like to put up some new things to be rated! Email us with suggestions!

patty

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11 years 7 months ago - 11 years 7 months ago #133060 by Davej
Replied by Davej on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
moss wrote:

I had a conversation on the topic with Tobe Sherrill this afternoon. Tobe has solid business reasons for opposing what he sees as patent infringement...

Big Shot patent infringement has not been proved, only suggested...


Ok, let us read US patent 5887577

http://patft.uspto.gov/

http://tinyurl.com/awb5jb
Last edit: 11 years 7 months ago by Davej.

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11 years 7 months ago #133061 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
Thanks for posting that Dave. Reading through the document and looking at the illustrations it's clear that quite a bit of emphasis is placed on the curved design of the arms of the sling shot head and the method of attachment of the sling tubing to the head. Very different from the Sidewinder head. There is a short piece of text at the end which seems to try and cover possible variations on the theme. I think that would be the point of contention in a legal analysis, ie: that's where infringement would be proved or disproved if the case went to an expensive (for both parties) legal process.
-moss

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11 years 7 months ago #133063 by rbtree
Replied by rbtree on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
Seems a crock of baloney to me. How is the Big Shot that different from any old slingshot? Instead of a handle, be it simple, or like the now discontinued Wrist Rocket (I forget the name, Mike Oxman and Scott Altenhoff have them.) it uses a pole saw pole........

For that matter, I think Tobe got the idea from Blake Thomas, who made a huge slingshot long before the BS....(Blake once held the ITCC footlock record.)

I think Tobe's gotten too big for his britches....

online photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbtree

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11 years 7 months ago #133065 by oldtimer
Replied by oldtimer on topic Re:Sherrill squashes Sidewinder
This post is to encourage all tree Climbers and potential Sherrill Customers that even thou he may be right, and maybe he has the right to put his potential competitors out of business and even if the patent law is on his side etc, etc, etc.
This episode could have been handled a lot differently with an alliance to improve, test, manufacture and distribute the Sidewinder Technology to a larger population of potential clients which not only would have benefited his company but would have kept a small Inventive American Innovator in business and maybe Jeff could have created many more innovations for the benefit of every tree climber in the future.
It is a sad day when Americans Companies can not get along and prefer to put their fellow citizens out of business for a few potential extra bucks. Soon enough a Chinese company will copy the BS and make it for the rest of the world to use for less than a tenth of what it costs here! You may have won this battle but you lost the war already! :angry:

Sadly but true:
\"El que a Hierro Mata, a Hierro Muere\"

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11 years 7 months ago #133067 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Olive branch
In the spirit of fostering constructive collaboration in the tree climbing community I'd like to offer an olive branch to Tobe and request that he consider entering into a conversation with Jeff to discuss possible strategies that would allow Tobe to protect his patent investment and Jeff to distribute the Sidewinder.

I have some ideas to consider, I'd be glad to assist as a facilitator in a meeting if Tobe and Jeff are interested. Please contact me to discuss via PM or email if either are interested in hearing more.
-moss

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