Why don't you sell the MPower Menstrual Cup anymore?
Unfortunately we are no longer allowed to sell it as it infringed the Intellectual Property Rights of another menstrual cup company, Lunette. In 2010 Lunette asked us not to continue to sell the MPower cup.
Here is an article that I have written for a blog giving more information:
Intellectual Property Rights
“What does that mean exactly? This legal term IPR, Intellectual Property Rights came up recently in relation to my business. I am the managing Director of Feminine Wear in the UK and we sell reusable menstrual products. We sell cloth pads, menstrual cups and sea sponge tampons.
We have been gradually increasing our stock in order to give our customers as much choice as possible but it seems that we may not be able to achieve that with menstrual cups.
We have been prevented from selling 3 brands so far and the manufacturers have quoted IPR in all cases.
The Green Donna menstrual Cup and the MPower Menstrual Cup appear to be copies of the Lunette Menstrual Cup and the Iriscup appears to be a copy of the Ladycup.
In all 3 cases we were contacted by the company that holds the IPR for their product and were warned that we would face legal action if we sold these brands of menstrual cup.
We have never seen a Green Donna or Iriscup.
But the most recent case was the one between the Lunette company and the Mpower company. We have been selling the MPowercup since August 2009 with no problems at all. And then Lunette noticed that we were selling them and asked us not to order any more stock. But we were given permission to sell the cups that we still have. We were also told that a customs block had now been put on the MPower cup so that it could not be imported into any EU country.
As it stands at the moment we cannot sell the MPowercup but we may be given permission in the future.
Intellectual Property covers 4 elements – Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright. It allows people to own the work that they create. We were informed by Lunette that they held the IPR in relation to their design, in particular the flat stem and the rim of the cup.
What do you think? Do the flat stems and rims look similar or are Lunette over reacting? Have MPower copied the design of the Lunette? We will have to wait for the outcome of any legal action to find out!
Have a look at the article on the menstrualcups.wordpress.com blog where you can read the comments.
Heli Kurjanen, Managing Director of Lunette left the following official statement on our Facebook debate -
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!
More Lunette and MPower comparison photos are available on our Flickr Page
The MPower company were planning to change the design. If they do we may be able to sell it in the future.