The interview with Fritz was an interesting read. Some back of the napkin calculations show 860 units shipped @ ~$120 is gross ~100k, with 2 hours labor per batch of 24 ~71 hours. Granted he did a good bit of fiddling optimizing the design before going into the large scale manufacturing... but this is reasonable enough for scope. I think he made the right call. I suspect it would have taken too much of his net profit to attempt to patent and enforce it internationally. Good for him, great for the community.
From the interview...
John Hall let his patent protection expire. It turns out you have to keep giving money to the patent office to maintain patent protection. He might have kept up his patent protection, but I think that he generously chose to let the idea go into the public domain. I am pleased to use the Bushbuddy name, John played a big part in my own success and I hope he takes some satisfaction that the Bushbuddy concept lives on.
How easy, or difficult, is it to compete versus the mass market manufacturers, like Trangia, MSR and Primus? Have they maybe already tried to approach you and buy the company/ product/ patents?
Because I am only one worker in a small home business, I do not need to sell a large number of stoves to make a living. Last year was the first year that I sold so many stoves. I think there will always be a niche for the worker at home who can provide unique products that the large manufacturers are not interested in making because they need a very large market. By selling direct, I can make a better wage without making the selling price too high than I could by selling through a retailer. Every extra mouth along the way needs to be fed, so it is more efficient to feed lower on the food chain. The internet has really created a revolution that is only beginning to be felt. Today it is much easier to sell directly to the customer than it used to be, and there is an opportunity for many more people to create a cottage industry. Working at home could become much more common.
I expect that there will be other companies making similar stoves, but that is a good thing, maybe some day I will be able to go camping again.
No companies have approached me about buying my company. I have no patents, so there is really nothing to buy, anyone can just as well just start building similar stoves.