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Kat
25 May 2010 @ 02:04 am
Over on femininewear's facebook page, Heli from Lunette left this statement to clarify Lunette's reasoning on this issue:

Hello all!

First I thought that I won't say anything but it seems that it's not possible :) So I'll try to open this discuss a bit more from our end and I'll hope you'll then understand a bit more where we are standing and why we are doing the things we are doing now.

It all goes to the year 2004 when I started to design a new menstrual cup that would fit me better than the ones in the markets (Divacup, Mooncup, Keeper). So after a months of designing and talking to different experts I came up with the design of Lunette. If you have seen other cups you know that Lunette is totally different than the cups then (Divacup, Mooncup, Keeper) and the main differences are the stem and the rim. Then I made couple of cups as a samples, send them to my friends and friends of friends for trying and they all loved it! So Lunette went to production.

Since I spend months of designing the cup and it was totally different than other cups back then we decided (as a company) to get all the possible intellectual property rights in place. We didn’t wanted our hard work to go wasted and we truly believed (even back then) that menstrual cups can be mainstream products in the future.

Lunette was the first menstrual cup sold in South Africa and around year after we started to sell there, Mpowercup was launched. We knew that it was our cup that was the base for it and we have seen the designer even saying in the forums that “I actually copied the Lunette exactly so the size difference should be marginal”. We didn’t mind about that too much since South Africa wasn’t never a big market for us but now their cups were sold in the EU which is still our main market. Therefore we asked Teresa to stop selling them (as a importer her company is responsible for the product in the EU) because we (and our lawyers) believe that Mpowercup is violating our intellectual property rights such as our model protection. If you’ll look at pictures of these two cups you can’t really which one is Lunette and which is Mpowercup but if you compare for example Mooncup and Lunette you can say that. Even Miacup with a flat stem is different since the rim is totally different. The color or the transparency of the cup doesn’t matter, it’s the design that does.

We value greatly Teresa’s work with different kinds of reusable sanpro products but we want the competition to be fair and not based on copying. We think that every sold menstrual cup (even if they are not our cups) are good for the whole business. And we don’t mind about the competition since we know that our cup is the best :) Our real competitors are disposable pads and tampons!

Hope this clarifies our point of view!

Heli/Lunette


I'll refrain from adding any personal opinion to this post. I just thought y'all might be interested to read it.
 
m03m on May 25th, 2010 10:06 am (UTC)
I'd say the shape is distinctly different. The rim itself is a different shape, and the Lunette seems to flare out slightly just below the rim, giving it a bit of a bulbous shape. The Mpowercup doesn't have that. It only gets more narrow from the rim on down.

Definitely not a copy, in my view. And whatever someone said on a forum doesn't make it so.
nightchild01nightchild01 on May 25th, 2010 10:19 am (UTC)
My fiance said that it was probably something like this. I'll be curious to see what happens. As it stands now, I don't think that I have a changed, negative view of Lunette.
fuzzyleavesfuzzyleaves on May 25th, 2010 11:33 am (UTC)
Same here. I'm withholding judgment for now.
Meghanmegamuphen on May 25th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
Ugh. I don't know how anyone can think that this is any less shady than what Keeper US did.
vesta1975 on May 25th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
I'm with you.

Sure, Mpower shouldn't have made such a careless statement about copying. But the two cups are different. They may LOOK the same, but they don't feel the same. The grip rings are less prominent on the Mpower, and the stem is shorter, for a start.

Someone pointed out in a previous discussion that there are only so many variations possible; all of these cups will resemble each other. This seems very unfair.

I've been waiting for a small version Mpower to come out.


fuzzyleavesfuzzyleaves on May 25th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
Actually, what Keeper did is much, much worse. Their actions definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. For those of you that don't know, Keeper trademarked the name "Mooncup" here in the US, so Mooncup UK cannot allow their cups to be sold here at all.

Keeper says they've used the Mooncup name for longer than MCUK has been around, but that's flat-out not true. Keeper stole something that was rightfully MCUK's...not the other way around. They were also extremely evasive about the whole ordeal. It's very troubling.

Lunette, on the other hand, is being open about it...as evidenced by this letter. Like I said in another post, I'm going to wait and reserve full judgment, but Lunette do appear to have a legitimate claim.

For the Keeper vs. MCUK saga:
- PART 1
- PART 2
- PART 3
- PART 4
surethingbuddysurethingbuddy on May 25th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
I disagree... but then I never really thought that what the Keeper company did was such a horrible thing as it's made out to be on this community. I own a Keeper Mooncup and it's one of my favorite cups.

In this case, the MPowercup does not look anything like a Lunette and you would never mistake one for the other. They have completely different shapes, the MPower has no writing on it, the stem is shorter, the grip rings are less prominent, etc. I really don't see the resemblance. It looks more like a heavily modified Lunette, and pretty much all the cups are modifications of earlier designs...
Meghanmegamuphen on May 25th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Well, I disagree. You say that "Mooncup UK cannot allow their cups to be sold here at all" as a problem with what Keeper has done, but that is pretty much EXACTLY what Lunette is doing except in the EU rather than US.
fuzzyleavesfuzzyleaves on May 26th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
By "worse" I mean the intention of the company, not the end result.

Keeper chose a name that another cup already had overseas in an apparent move to intentionally keep them from this market. That's an intentional stifling of competition borne out of an IMO unethical use of trademark laws here in the US.

Lunette's guff is with companies that appear to have copied designs they originated. Green Donna is clearly a copy and I totally agree with it. The case against Mpower is not so cut-and-dry, but if it's true that the designer said that s/he copied Lunette's design, that's pretty damning. If that's the case, Lunette's motivation isn't to corner the market (which strongly contrasts with Keeper's apparent motivation), but it is one to protect their own patent rights.
Meghanmegamuphen on May 26th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
I'm not convinced that the comment about copying wasn't taking out of context. A commenter below outlined the differences between the cups, they are clearly different products.
Dina Clarelintilla on May 25th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
Honestly, looking at pictures of the two cups side by side, they do look similar... and if the designer's going around saying that they copied it from Lunette? Really, that's all the case you need :P
scarletwildfire on May 25th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
This.

Even if there are some variations (say different rim, different base structure, different compound) if a part of it that is patented (or intellectual property) is the same AND the owner is willing to admit as much - well sorry, you just lost in court.

Unless we see the patents Lunette filed, do any of us really know what Mpower has swiped?
a clockwork cuttlefishcastalianspring on May 25th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC)
That's the part that gets me as well. Someone flat out stating that they copied the design? That's incredibly damning.
Happy Rowanfairgoldberry on May 25th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
This is pretty much how I see it.

If you say you copied a design, you shouldn't be surprised when you get slapped with an IP claim. If anything, Lunette was far more lenient than they had to be, when they didn't challenge the sales in SA.
surethingbuddysurethingbuddy on May 25th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Everyone copied the tab stem from Lunette.
Dina Clarelintilla on May 26th, 2010 07:34 am (UTC)
I'm no IP lawyer (and am really not familiar with EU IP laws), but I *think* there might be a percentage rule here.
indigo_dawnindigo_dawn on May 27th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Heli specifically said that it's about the rim and the stem in particular. Even though Miacup and Fleurcup both have a flat stem, they have different rims. Plus, Miacup has a distinctive colour and Fleurcup different grip ridges - they're fairly had to mistake for the Lunette. If you put a Mpowercup and large Lunette next to each other unless you knew what you were looking for it would be difficult to tell them apart. Yes, this may be the same for other cups but Lunette are trying to protect their copyright, whereas other cup companies may not feel the same way about their design.
fifimonsterfifimonster on May 25th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Bad move on MPowers part to use the word "copied". I think I read the post in question, and it went on to describe the changes that were made. I cant seem to find the post again, I'm thinking it was removed or edited. IMO MPower was inspired by the Lunette, but with changes in shape and material.

The cups are similar, but not anywhere close to identical. This situation bothers me because all inventions are in some way inspired by what is already there and changing it to make it "better".

Also. Drama annoys me...grumble
candyland112 on May 25th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
Aren't they all copies though? One person came up with the concept of the menstrual cup-something kinda shaped like a wine glass to catch menstrual fluid--LONG before any of the modern brands came on the scene. After that, everything else became a variation/improvement of the original idea.

With that being said, I can tell the differences between the mpower and the lunette just from looking at them. Maybe it's because I owned a Lunette before (it wasn't for me), so I know the Lunette very well.

Still, I understand wanting to protect your own intellectual property, and someone saying they copied your exact design SUCKS. So I'm not "mad" at Lunette. In fact, my opinion of them hasn't changed. It's just that our bodies are all so different. No one cup works just as well for everyone. I think lots of cup variations (no matter how small) is a good thing for us since our bodies are so different. Guess we'll just have to see what the court says about that one.
Prickle Bitchmeig on May 25th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
This. I mean, there are only so many designs for cups out there. To my eye I see distinct differences in the Mpower vs. Lunette. The Mpower looks larger, more rounded on the bottom, the grip rings are less distinct and spaced differently, and the top rim looks thinner to me. I don't see how any new cups are going to be able to come out now that another brand won't be able to say is a copy in some respect, from the same stem, to the same rim, etc..
candyland112 on May 25th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
LOL. I think I basically said what fifimonster said....with some slight variations. My bad.
melissa569melissa569 on May 25th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
I'm not exactly sure how the laws work on this, or what is considered a "difference" or a "similarity".

I suppose in the sense that they are both seem close in size, they are both stiff, and they both have a flat stem, they are similar.

But I would say the biggest differences are:

* The holes
* The rim
* The base
* The grips
* The exact material

Holes-- They are larger

Rim-- It closer to being a straight slant on the edge, rather than rounded

Base-- Its rounded rather than being tapered

Grips-- They are more subtle

Exact materiasl-- while it is stiff like large Lunette, it has a different feel and look. Its more like the material used for Femmecup. While Lunette is more like the material used in Fleurcup, I swould say.

I suppose these are all just technical issues the companies will have to work out on their own. It seems that Mpower might be better off making a few design changes? That might be safer. Sure it will take some time to get the newer versions out, but perhaps a slight variation in length or width, or perhaps even mroe changes to the rim? Possibly a slightly longer or wider stem. Such changes can really make a difference. But again, I'm not sure how much of those traits are considered "patented".

Prickle Bitchmeig on May 25th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly what else can be changed here?

I guess we're at the point where there can be no new cup brands due to copyright issues.
morejellytoast: yotsuba happymorejellytoast on May 25th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
And we don’t mind about the competition since we know that our cup is the best :)

Lol. I love cocky people. You go, Heli.
(Deleted comment)
mousebebemousebebe on May 26th, 2010 04:18 am (UTC)
Agreed. If a representative said that they copied any aspect or used it as a starting point, as a representative of the company, even if they followed it with a list of the things they changed to make it completely dissimilar, then Lunette pretty much has to deal with it or risk losing legal rights. They sound like they're being fairly reasonable about it, and as someone said above, we honestly don't know what the legal papers say and can't do more than guess whether there's anything else in addition.
Dina Clarelintilla on May 26th, 2010 07:37 am (UTC)
I think the "risk losing legal rights" part is the clincher - a lot of people don't understand that part of patent and trademark law.
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on May 26th, 2010 06:42 am (UTC)
For what it's worth I think this situation is totally different to the Keeper debarcle...

I don't know about the MPower (they ignored my request for a sample).. so I don't know how similar they actually are... I know the Miacup has a very different (more protrusive) ridge and the Fleurcup (who flat out refused to send me one so I also haven't seen that in real life) appears to have no ridge (so smoother than Lunette).. so maybe those have enough difference to be ok....MPower seems to have a similar less protrusive ridge area like the Lunette.... so that could be why. Green Donna is also apparently accused of being a copy, and it again has that same less protrusive ridge... So I think that plus the tab stem is where the problem lies. Miacup and Fleurcup have the tab stem but also a different ridge - making that a distinct difference.

The thing is - if Lunette have patented their cup design, then that legally protects that design from being copied. To what extent, I don't know (as has been pointed out, all the modern cups are essentially copies of the 1930s cups which were patented, and thus presumably protected), but I think that something can be similar (eg use a portion of it - like a flat stem idea), but not too much of an exact copy...a distinct difference would need to be there.

But that's something only the IP lawyers would know for sure.

Under trademark law (and I presume patents are the same as that), if you are found not to be actively protecting your trademark, you can lose the right to it. Which is one reason some big companies come down on little stores calling themselves "Macdonalds shoe store" or something - not because it's going to really affect their sales, but because if they don't protect their trademarked name, they can lose it.

(I've recently trademarked a product name, and we're told in that process why it's important to protect it - I assume the same principle applies in all countries)

So if any cup does infringe on the Lunette patent and they don't do something to protect it - they might stand the chance of losing it (if I'm right and patents can be challenged if they aren't upheld). So they have to protect it - it's not a case of being nice or not.
Dina Clarelintilla on May 26th, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)
I know it applies in the US (my mother's told me about some silly-sounding trademark disputes her non-profit has gotten into so they can protect their trademark).