Trademark Issue Rears Its Destructive Head, aka Using the Govt to Squash Competition

I like Voltmeters, Multimeters, Ammeters, etc., some of you may have noticed. “Just when you think you’ve heard it all”, I’ll link to the story, it’s political, about Multimeters.

Rubik’s Cube (r) and the Department of Homeland Security

Related, but not meter related, is a story from post 9-11, a Toy Store was visited by agents with the Department of Homeland Security. You see, the patent expired on Rubic’s Cube, and clones were being made, and the Toy Store was selling them. The Agents Explained that the Rubic’s Cube is Trademarked, and that the owner was to remove all the cloned Rubic’s Cubes from the shelf, and sell no more. They explained that this is the devious way Terrorists drag down the economies of great nations.

After they left, the store owner phoned the distributor, telling him about this fiasco. He told her to tell them to go pound salt, the model he sold her was done to a different color scheme.

With all the serious things occurring in America, the Govt has time to send out agents over Rubic’s Cubes and MultiMeters?

Segue to the next story, on meters, it’s an older story now, but first I’ve heard of it.

“SparkFun is forced to incinerate 2,000 multimeters

Part of SparkFun’s business model is to find really cool items that every hacker and DIY electronics person needs. A digital multimeter is one of those “must-haves.” We started sourcing a really great high-quality $15 multimeter back in 2008. This price-point enables countless beginners to get their feet wet in electronics.

Fast forward six years and many thousands of multimeters sold. On March 7th, we were notified by the Department of Homeland Security/US Customs and Border Protection that our latest shipment of 2,000 multimeters was being inspected:

It seems like the Rubic’s Cube thing, all over again. Though the color on the meter is similar, I’d hardly think that the $15 Meter was a $400 Fluke. In fact, Fluke must be hurting, other than the facility where I worked where Fluke was basically the only model seen, you’ll be hard pressed to find a refrigeration, furnace, or appliance repair person with one, and the price is the reason.

According to the article, Spark-Fun had been selling the meters for years. Assuming a Trademark violation had occurred and was occurring, the mature thing to do would be to serve notice that additional shipments of these meters would be destroyed, and to have released the meters to the company.

Fluke apparently gave them “some” meters to offer to schools, but it’s not likely they gave 2000 of them. Reading a little closer, they gave them $30,000 in Fluke Meters, probably something like 300 Meters. The company recoups their losses, but in an environmentally conscious world, requiring the meters to be destroyed is sheer lunacy.

I’ve always liked Fluke, but henceforth, I think I’ll find other models to recommend. Seriously, they seem to be a diminishing thing to find anyway, no sense in wasting my time recommending something most people won’t be buying.

In defense of more expensive meters, there are some jobs you are risking serious injury, or worse, by using Cheap Meters or Outdated Meters made under different standards. Anything with the potential to supply high fault currents, a poorly constructed meter can actually explode in a fault.

We used Ideal Vol-Con Electrical Testers until the Category Rated Meters became available. We then switched to Category Rated Testers and Multimeters, but many Multimeters have a problem that the Testers don’t, namely we had 120V DC and up to 480V AC Exposures. You won’t see the voltage potential if you are not on the corresponding AC or DC Setting. Some Multimeters have an (AC/DC) Range, where any potential shows. But the Meter must still be on this setting. Electrical Testers are usually always on and intuitively show  voltage potential and AC or DC.

In terms of higher voltages, (not High Voltages in the classic sense, but common voltages such as 120, 230/240, 480, and some meters might be approved to 600V) poor insulation on the lead plugs, leads themselves, and lead tip, can result in serious, or worse, shocks. 

This gentleman, in Poland I believe (Speaking English), dissects modern Electronics and discusses relative safety of the devices based on the design. He has done inexpensive meters as well, the first link immediately below is his YouTube Video Channel, the second to a show on Dangerous Meters, and the third one he did on a very inexpensive Chinese Meter. 

DiodeGoneWild Videos

DiodeGoneWild Dangerous Meters

DiodeGoneWild $3 Multimeter Test & Teardown

Yet the Destruction of 2000 Meters is just obnoxious, read the comments on the Hackaday Link Provided below. Some are likely Fluke Employees talking about Fluke’s generosity, some are aghast that they pushed for the destruction of the meters, and others suggest, probably correctly, that Fluke is using the idiocy of the Govt to push its own products.

Fluke, We Love(d) You But You’re Killing Us.

I added the d to Love, above, not the original author.


Update: Fluke Extends a Generous Hand in $30,000 Multimeter Trademark Issue


Hackaday – FLUKE ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING SPARKFUN’S IMPOUNDED MULTIMETERS

Author: Dr-Artaud

A Doctor that is not a Doctor, but named after a character in the movie "No Such Thing", as is the Avatar.

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