ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Most inventors wouldn't mind getting their name in the Wall Street Journal, although Garry Haltof may wish it was under another circumstance. Haltof achieved his moment in the spotlight as a result of a legal tussle with Motorola Inc. over Haltof's ABS cellular telephone holder called Flip Clip.
Haltof, of Haltof Product Design Inc., based in Rochester, has both utility and design patents on Flip Clip. The patents cover not only the mechanism of the product but also how it looks. However, that's not the issue.
``This is only a trademark dispute,'' he said.
Haltof applied to the U.S. patent office for the trademarked name Flip Clip. After months of research, Haltof received a letter from the patent office saying that they had found no conflict with his use of the name. Then, explained Haltof, according to the rules, the patent office published a listing of names to be approved for use to see if anyone had any objections.
That's when Motorola jumped in, claiming exclusive use of the word ``flip.''
It wasn't the first time Motorola heard of Haltof and his Flip Clip. After conceiving and patenting the product, Haltof went to Motorola with samples hoping the company would buy his idea.
Why didn't Haltof leave Motorola out of it?
``It's more expensive that way,'' said Haltof. ``It takes money to make money and Motorola has money. This was going to be the quick kill: develop a product, take it to Motorola, they'll like it and buy it.''
Motorola liked it. According to Haltof, engineers at the telecommunications giant thought the design superior to any they had developed. Motorola checked to make sure nothing like it was on the drawing board. After determining that no one at the firm had designed anything comparable, they asked Haltof to quote on 50,000 and 100,000 units, he said.
``Motorola has no right to speak at this point,'' said Haltof. ``They knew about the name one and a half years before this. The Flip Clip name was molded into the product.''
Motorola officials declined to comment, but a spokesman said they are in discussions with Haltof.