I've been asked a lot by friends and family about if I have patented or protected my velomobile design in some way to stop "just anyone" coming along, making a copy and selling their own; and thus (so the story goes) stealing potential sales of my product. I tend to answer "No", but the real answer is probably more like "Not exactly" or "I don't think it works like that".
Firstly, I know that it's not that easy to just go away and produce a new velomobile design. I've had three years if thinking, planning, sketching, designing and pondering before Deferred Procrastination appeared online.
I'm pretty sure with enough looking, I could find some novel piece of engineering that is suitable for a patent (maybe the single-piece, folded-sheet rear wheel hanger -- I haven't seen one of those before) but the fact remains that the general design is derived from something that went before. It's a three wheeled, enclosed vehicle, that a rider sits inside and pedals: there's a US patent for that from 1983 for the Victor HPV velomobile.
As it is, I'd like to make the investment required to create something similar (but legally different) greater than the effort required to license and produce, or make and develop from the Atomic Duck. I'd like my primary business to be engineering. I don't want it to be legal threats and lawsuits. Patent Troll isn't a career I want to follow…
When it comes to "protecting my investment", I'd like to take a slightly different view to the traditional. As it is my intention to try and make a living from Deferred Procrastination, I'd like to make it as attractive as possible for people to send me money, instead of sending them threats. So:
If you want to sell an Atomic Duck commercially, buy a licence (per vehicle), then make one and sell it (as a kit or built). Your customers will know that they have a real Atomic Duck, I will be grateful that you appreciate the work I'm doing, you will get the profit from the sale, and I will list your outlet on my website so if someone is interested -- they can buy locally from you.
If you want a built vehicle you can either go to a local producer (which will be listed on this site) or order one from me. This is the lowest effort way of getting one, but the highest cost -- you'll pay for the extra that went into the production
If you want to build your own, order a kit from me or a local supplier. This will cost less that pre-built, but more than cutting your own, but you get it ready to build with less effort.
Want to pay the absolute minimum to get an Atomic Duck? Buy a set of design drawings (or print off a downloaded copy) mark out the parts and cut them out. Then build it up in you garage. Voilà, your own Atomic Duck, and not a penny to me! All I ask is that you tell all the interested people you meet, where the design came from.
This means that there doesn't need to be any "cheap knock-off copies", If you want an Atomic Duck, or have a customer that wants to buy one, you can acquire or produce and exact copy. Atomic Duck is designed so the kit can be cut and constructed using the minimum of specialist tools. That way, any copy of the kit should be as good as a copy that I make.
_I make a distinction between the act of producing a vehicle (or kit) with the only intention of selling it (commercial manufacture for retail) and constructing one for your use that you might sell on, second hand, at a later date: it's all in the intention.
In the commercial case, I'm asking for you to give me a cut of your profit because I put in all the initial time, effort and money to develop the vehicle, without which, you wouldn't have anything to sell. In return, you get me sending interested parties to buy from you, because it's easier for them than coming to me.
For the end-user, I can't ask you to pay for the privilege of selling something you own. Apart from it being impractical and impossible, you already made a contribution to me when you purchased a kit, directly to me, or through licensing when you bought from a local retailer. And if you built a kit from printed plans that you downloaded for free -- it would be like I was taxing the effort you put in, when it cost me next to nothing to send you the file of the plans.
So are you a commercial user? -- Are you building to sell or building to own? _