John Beaumont, who runs a small company in Erie, Pa., making a product for injection molds called the MeltFlipper, is facing a website in China that he says cut-and-pasted company sales information from his Beaumont Technologies Inc., and from Moldflow simulation software.
Beaumont also said he has seen molds from China equipped with unauthorized MeltFlipper, an attachment that rotates or “flips” the melt to balance out the melt that goes into each mold cavity.
His message to U.S. businesses: Be aware that your imported molds, or products made in China, could be at risk.
“They're breaking the law whether they know it or not,” he said.
The offending site is http://idopo-mf.com, by a company calling itself Onlytech Moldflow Analysis.
“They've taken bits and pieces from a single source, or multiple sources” from various sales presentations over the years, Beaumont said. He suspects they got a copy of a thumbdrive that contained sales information.
Beaumont Technologies is scheduled to meet Sept. 15 with two officials of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, set up by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Attending the meeting will be John Beaumont, John Blundy, the company's vice president of business development, and Michael Taylor, SPI's senior director of international affairs and trade.
Beaumont wants to shut down the website and stop imported molds with what he calls the phony MeltFlippers.
Jay Shoemaker, who is in charge of Moldflow training and certification, said Onlytech Moldflow is not affiliated with Moldflow in any way. “They are definitely not Gold or Expert Certified, as they claim,” he said.
Shoemaker referred questions about potential actions Moldflow may take to its parent company, Autodesk Inc. in San Rafael, Calif. Autodesk officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Via email, a spokesman from Onlytech Moldflow said the company did not know about the problem, and if it impacts the U.S. companies they will delete the information.
John Beaumont said: “That's not the point. The point is companies like this feel free to just to copy everything.”
But he realizes his company faces an uphill battle that could take months, or even years if more websites pop up.
So Beaumont also is encouraging U.S. companies to become more aware of the problem of piracy of manufacturing technology and software.
He said U.S. authorities could even seize the products imported from China made using technology that violate U.S. patents. Beaumont said he doesn't think most companies recognize that, or that they face liability of a product made using the stolen technology.
“Companies are being put at risk by these Chinese companies that are using this pirated software,” he said.
Beaumont is frustrated that his 25-employee business has to fight a firm in China. “For a small company to get into these situations, as you can imagine it's extremely expensive,” he said.
Beaumont Technologies does not patent its products in China, and his understanding is that Chinese companies therefore are free to use them in products sold in China. The problem is all the imported molds — and laptops, smartphones and countless other products made in China that get shipped to the United States, Europe and South America, places where Beaumont Technologies does hold patents.
Another problem: U.S. molders or mold-makers sourcing molds from China may get molds have phony MeltFlippers, and may not even know it. Beaumont has begun compiling a list of offending molds.
“We regularly get evidence of MeltFlipper being designed into molds,” Beaumont said.
He said multinational companies that have properly licensed his company's technology may use mold-makers in China that then pirate MeltFlipper, for molds exported out of China. “Many times they don't work, but it's still in there,” Beamont said.
Plastics News China correspondent Kent Miller contributed to this story.