Once the holidays are on us and we all considers our New Years’ Resolutions, one thing remodelers, roofers or other home improvement companies often do is look to add a new product to their business model. Many look to become a gutter guard dealer, since they often get asked about gutter protection whenever they are out at a potential customer’s home. It also gives them a great product to share with their existing customer base. It’s a natural complement to any home improvement business model, so all makes sense. But there are a couple of key issues that are important to consider before you become a gutter guard dealer.
Check Your Patent Protection
Not all gutter guards are created equal. You want to offer your clients the best product and technology, right? If you consider selling a reverse curve design, realize that the patent protection on the technology doesn’t exist. This technology was created around 1908, so anybody can create and sell a curved system. More of your money will have to go into marketing the product because differentiating one curve from another is very hard to do. Keep in mind that debris will get into these systems and within a few years you’ll need a full time service department just to deal with clog related issues.
Since we sell a micro-mesh gutter guard, we suggest you look at this technology. It’s the one currently preferred by most of the independent testers. There are a lot of companies claiming to have invented this technology, so we’d say before you believe marketing rhetoric, go to the US Patent Office and see who holds the technology-related patents. Let us be so bold as to link to the gutter guard patents we license.
There are other patents, issued and pending, for micro mesh gutter guards, but they are, in our humble opinion, not patents that will protect you, as the gutter guard dealer, from someone else walking into your market with an exact replica of your product. If you plan to invest your time, energy and hard earned money into building a business, why would you risk having much of it taken away if someone else can enter your market and sell the exact same thing?
We suggest a critical step in becoming a gutter guard dealer would be to hire an Intellectual Property attorney and pay for about an hour of their time to read through the patent claims of the products on your short list. For under $500, you’ll get a completely independent review of the patents and which ones will offer your business a product to confidently and safely build a business around.
Next, see which companies license those patents. Ask to see evidence of the license and check with the patent holder that the license is still valid. Licenses can expire after a certain amount of time, for example, so you’ll want to know this in advance of starting into a new business model.
Gutter Guard Patent Protection is Just as Important for the Homeowner
Most homeowners will be glad if the product they buy says its patent protected, it’s a nice little thing you can add to your marketing message. But the ramifications to them and you actually go much deeper. Profiting by using patent protected technology without a license can result in the manufacturer, the distributor and the dealer (anyone that is earning a profit off the sale) being sued for patent infringement. Damages beyond the actual profit can be assessed to all parties. Patent infringement can cause the company selling the product to stop selling it completely, so any future needs of the homeowner can’t be fulfilled. The monetary damages can be extremely damaging to many companies’ financial viability. Homeowners aren’t going to understand that that they can’t be serviced and your reputation can suffer.
Sounds fairly gloomy when all you want is to do good for your customers and sell a technology worth backing. But a few hours in time spent doing research and due diligence will pay off with years of growth without fears of litigation or seeing your hard work being mirrored by your biggest competitor.