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My Sweet Petunia Sues Tonic over Tim Holtz Stamp Press

The question of whether competitor products infringe on the patent granted to My Sweet Petunia for its MISTI stamp platform has become a legal battle with the company’s filing of a patent infringement suit against Tonic Studios on April 3rd.

My Sweet Petunia was granted their patent on the MISTI tool on March 21st, after a more than two year application process that saw the patent request initially rejected but then subsequently granted after being revised and reconsidered.

The MISTI was an almost immediate hit when it was launched in 2015. In the interim period between the MISTI going on the market and being granted its patent, several similar looking products entered what appeared at the time to be a new tool market segment. The We R Memory Keepers Stamp Press launched in 2016, and late 2016 saw the announcement of the Hampton Art Stamp Perfect. Then January 2017 brought the announcement of the Tonic Studios Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, intended to be launched in late spring of this year.

Although popular, the MISTI’s premium price point left room for competitors, and the We R and Hampton Art tools quickly gained market share after their launches as more affordable options. The announcement of the Tonic Studios tool was also well received by consumers and the tool’s launch in stores was eagerly anticipated.

After My Sweet Petunia learned they would in fact be granted the MISTI patent, the We R Memory Keepers and Hampton Art tools rapidly disappeared from retail outlets. In a blog entry announcing the issuing of the patent to MISTI fans, My Sweet Petunia owner Iliana Myska wrote of the situation that “I was thankful that two companies accepted my design as unique and graciously withdrew copies from the market.”

This left only the question of whether Tonic Studios’ much-anticipated Tim Holtz Stamping Platform would launch as scheduled or not.

According to court filings made by My Sweet Petunia, Tonic Studios was notified of the impending patent issuance for the MISTI on March 13th. Around the end of the that month, bloggers began to post on social media about receiving shipments of the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, and post videos and reviews. On April 3rd, My Sweet Petunia filed suit against Tonic Studios for patent infringement in Federal Court in Delaware (where Tonic Studios USA is incorporated). The suit cites the activities of bloggers it names who posted about the Tonic tool (among other activities) as proof of patent infringing activity by Tonic.

On April 12th, shortly after receiving the suit, Tonic Studios issued a statement to its wholesale customers. The statement said that the Stamping Platform product was being delayed due to the MISTI patent being issued and the product being “redesigned” because “we do not want to expose our customers to any legal action from MSP” despite Tonic not considering their product to be infringing. The company said a new product, designated by a new product number as model 1707e, would ship within 6-8 weeks.

Patent litigation frequently is lengthy, and the initial stages of the suit between My Sweet Petunia and Tonic has already generated a lot of motions. My Sweet Petunia has amended its initial complaint once in response to a Tonic response motion, and Tonic has filed a motion requesting a change of venue to the court district near their California headquarters (a move opposed by My Sweet Petunia in its recent response). My Sweet Petunia is requesting a jury trial, a 3x multiplication of awarded damages for what it alleges is willful infringement, and attorney’s fees and expenses.

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108 Responses to My Sweet Petunia Sues Tonic over Tim Holtz Stamp Press

  1. Lana June 12, 2017 at 2:48 am #

    MISTI and Tonic platform both are equal very good products but frankly, she had no right to sue him because her product “MISTI” is not that original, not even Tim’s too. I hope in the court will decide that both of them are a tie!

  2. Mary June 12, 2017 at 2:52 am #

    In addition to the Stamping Rig and the Stampressive there was another hinged tool that had even more features in addition to the hinges-grids and the like. I guess it has disappeared off the web. It was rather pricey and not well advertised, probably why it didn’t take off. Can’t remember the name but it was before the Misti. I finally just ordered a Tonic from Craft World in the U.K. I’m giving away my cracked Misti and I have a mini. If the Tonic turns out not to be great than I guess MSP is my only option in a full sized positioner.

  3. Curious June 13, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    I do not have a misti, I don’t know MSP, I don’t care for Tim’s products (save for the distress ink) and i don’t intend to buy any stamp positioning tools, so I’m coming at this issue purely as an outsider.

    I put myself for a moment in MSP’s position. She had an idea of how to create a product. She invested however much time and money and courage required to research, engineer, create a prototype, test, tweak, package, first round of patent to protect her idea, etc. I can’t imagine how long this took. My guess is years.

    Now her product is ready for retail and people love it. All the top card makers are using/loving this product. There is a huge buzz, demand, etc. But along with the buzz comes the watchful eye of competitors. Who most likely have more capital, and definitely have a big name, to invest in producing a similar item with more bells and whistles.

    If you had gone through this process, as MSP, about something you were clearly passionate about, wouldn’t you fight like hell? I certainly would.

    I’m not saying her product is the best. I couldn’t possibly know that. But no one can begrudge her staying in the ring and refusing to be bullied by the big companies.

    • Teri J Anderson June 19, 2017 at 9:28 am #

      The problem I have is MSP didn’t invent anything, therefore she really has nothing to “protect”. Think of it like this…. You decide you never use your garlic press and decide to use it with polymer clay to make grass. Did you invent anything? No you just found another use for a tool that has been around for a long long time. Current day, you can get the garlic press in the kitchen section and a polymer clay press in the crafting section. Almost identical. No lawsuits happening there. There is nothing to sue over. Both products do the same thing, just used in different industries. Just made me think of browning meringue. I use my husband’s blow torch. Now they make one specifically for the kitchen. Smaller and prettier, but still accomplish the same thing. NO LAW SUIT. MSP is not being bullied by any company. MSP hasn’t invented anything to copy. The printing press has been around for many many many years.

      • Nancy Loomis July 3, 2017 at 10:55 pm #

        I recently heard about this lawsuit after seeing the video of TH demo-ing his Tonic stamp positioning tool @ CHA. But before that I had purchased the Hampton Arts stamp positioning tool @ Michaels. With a coupon, I got it for like $13. I am absolutely delighted with it. There are still a few of them around from before they were pulled, I guess.

        When I saw the Misti being demoed on a video from I think CHA the year before, I thought wow, I’d love to have one, but the price stopped me. I then saw YouTube videos for DIY versions. And honestly, the core idea for the MISTI, as others have mentioned, is as old as the hills…it’s just basic letterpress printing. And if MSP would have priced the MISTI more competitively, they would have been flying off the shelf so fast, MSP would have had trouble keeping up with production. I respect their unique twist on a time-honored printing method and understand why MSP wants to protect it, but not sure that’s going to be enough to keep others from producing their own versions for long.

  4. Mary June 22, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    I agree on the nothing new here comments. Just because you add features to something and sell a lot of them for whatever reason doesn’t equate with invention. Building a better mousetrap isn’t the same as inventing a mousetrap. The patent people were not crafters and they didn’t make the connection to previous products. Combining features from existing products is not invention. Maybe it is the magnetic component that allowed this to squeak through the patent process.

  5. Marilyn July 2, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    So do they want people to have no choices of options? Many products come on the market, then others follow, perhaps somewhat different, better, cheaper…but we have choices. It would be a very boring world if everyone drove a blue car, everyone had a 27″ TV, the only vegetable was green beans, everyone lived in an 800 square ft house. This sounds like a dog in the manger story. We cannot all afford her steep price.

  6. Sassc1 July 5, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    The woman is greedy! Not only does she charge an outrageous rate for a sub par product, she also wants to keep anyone else from capitalizing in this age old product that she did not invent! I can understand her greedy frenzy over this… An established name comes up with something potentially better for less than half the price! Hmmm… I wonder what that would do to her profit margin!

  7. beth563 July 6, 2017 at 11:45 am #

    Stampers were using the We R Memory Keepers Letterpress for stamping well before the Misti. Two pieces of hinged plastic on a base. They don’t look all that different other than shape. Add to that MSP going after individual hobbyists on line (“My attorney will be in touch”) who posted a photo of a stamp platform they rigged up from an IKEA hinged frame – even before MSP got the patent – and I’m rooting for Tonic, Tim, and for WRMK to get back in the market. The price also went up after she moved her manufacturing to China. Tim’s platform is sturdier and the price point is excellent. (I got one from overseas.)

    • BBB July 9, 2017 at 9:04 am #

      beth563, We R Memory Keepers are bringing out the Precision Press Plus Bundle through HSN. It includes an additional lid for precise sentiment placement and an attachment for holding stencils. You can see it demonstrated on the Amber / Damask Love’s YouTube channel.

  8. Ruth July 8, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

    Thank you for posting about this. I used the WRMK Letterpress as I was indecisive about the MISTI. I then found it on special offer and bought a mini. I wasn’t keen on her attitude and it took me a long time to get it. It’s good, I grant you, but when WRMK brought out their Precision Press, I also bought one and I now use both as they both provide me with options I like for certain things. I just don’t get her at all. I believe that there is an issue with even her patent being granted as her tool possibly infringes on a portable printing press from the 1960. Given the number of die cutting machines on the market, why have none of them been granted a patent? I find this so fascinating as crafting is always marketed as a kind and welcoming place, but then you get situations like this and I wonder….

  9. Jan July 9, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    I agree with the fact MSP did not invent anything. I was excited about the MSP when I first saw it but could not justify her price. I purchased the WRMK platform as a gift for a friend, did not get one for me as I never thought it would be pulled off the market. I have been waiting to get the Tonic studios platform since it was launched and have been on a wait list at my local craft store as they placed their order at CHA I recently saw a carrying bag advertised for the Tonic platform so thought we were a go for July. I am sick of the MSP that I would not have one if they were giving them away. What if we could only have one brand of ink and one color? Crafting is fun not fighting. I am sick of the mess if i were her I would think of ways to improve my product and bring the price down. open up the side so there is no limit on the paper size or restriction on how you stamp. MSP spends more time suing folks then bringing positive products and crafty goodness to the craft world.

  10. keithsha July 10, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    I bought the Misti and sold it. I really wished she would have meanion the religious quote on it. I’m all for companies putting whatever they want on their products but it’s the owner’s responsibility to let the buyer know. If I would have known, I wouldn’t have bought it! I paid $90 for my misti bundle and wasn’t too happy that it had that it wasn’t meantion!!!
    Can’t wait for Tim’s to come out!!!!

  11. LoloE July 12, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    The Tim Holtz Tonic platform was the first one I was ever even interested in buying! It looks well made sturdy and professional.
    I agree wth the others this is not a new concept!
    I have never purchased anything from the petunia lady and now I never will! I was so excited for my platform to come, and now who knows when it will arrive,!
    This whole thing is stupid! How dare she hold up a purchase that I prepaid for. Something that I wanted just the way it was shown to me at its release.!

    • Cris July 13, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Tim’s platform is so smart. Super sturdy and no silly pads to put in or take out. Just flip the cover and you are ready to go. Plus the fact that your paper can stick out from the ends makes it more versatile. Simple clever design. Itypical Tim Holtz.

    • Lana July 14, 2017 at 2:03 am #

      Same here, LoloE. I love the flip the cover at anytime or take it out for washing it alone without hassle! I will have it this Monday or what SSS told me. My two friends and I were waiting for them since Feb! Patience will pay off for sure! SO excited!

  12. Mary July 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    I agree with everyone. I have her product which was very expensive to begin with. On top of that expense, you have to buy a paper grid pad to put in it, have the black mat you interchange depending on which type of stamp your using and purchase a special cleaner. I’m sorry I ever purchased her product because it is a constant expense. Tim Holtz, no extra expense once purchased. Yes,I ordered one to try it because I agree with the numerous greed statements. This obviously has her running scared!!

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