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Tag Archives | Provo Craft

Cricut To Introduce “Imagine” Machine That Both Cuts & Prints?

Provo Craft has been hinting that it has a big new product introduction coming again for CHA Summer 2010. According to recent trademark filings with the US Patent & Trademark office, that machine may be an offering called the Cricut Imagine that will both cut and print – a first for the company as well as for the scrapbook industry’s highly competitive electronic die cutting segment.

On March 19th, attorneys for Provo Craft filed an application to receive a trademark on the term “Cricut Imagine”. The description for the usage of the trademarked term reads:

Electronic cutting and printing machines for cutting and printing on paper, cardboard, plastic, and other materials in flat form, and accessories therefor; blades for electronic cutting machines

There’s also a reference to the term being used to market “Computer software containing fonts and graphics for use in operating electronic cutting and printing machines for cutting and printing on paper, cardboard, plastic, and other materials in flat form” as well as “plastic cutting mats”.

The only other Cricut trademark application that refers to printing is the Cricut Script application from 2007. That term was trademarked and used to sell the original “baby bug” machine via QVC, with emphasis on the ability to use the ink-drawing cartridges with it. The trademark for the Cricut Expression machine, filed more recently than the one for the Cricut Script, does not mention printing.

In the past, Provo Craft has applied for trademarks shortly before a product was introduced. The Cricut Cake trademark was only filed for on January 20th, literally two days before the product’s public unveiling at the CHA Craft Supershow that preceded CHA Winter 2010 in Anaheim. (Learn more about the Cricut Cake in May’s review of the machine and enter to win one in our giveaway.)


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[Review] Provo Craft Cricut Cake

When I first saw the Cricut Cake [Scrapbook.com|Amazon.com for $297] at CHA last January, I thought it was an extraordinary idea. Essentially, Provo Craft took their very popular Cricut paper die cutting machine, and turned it into a food-safe one that could cut out shapes from sheets of sugar gum paste. Visions of being the biggest rock star of all the moms in school, and of birthday parties with the fanciest (homemade) cupcakes, filled my head and made me smile.

This was going to be cool, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and test it.

Continue Reading →

Provo Craft Acquired By BAML Capital Partners

Sorenson Capital, which purchased a majority stake in Provo Craft in 2005, has now sold a majority stake in the company to BAML Capital Partners. Sorenson Capital will retain a minority stake in the company, along with Provo Craft management.

BAML Capital Partners is the private equity group of Bank of America, that was created by the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch equity groups. As part of the acquisition, Provo Craft has entered into new credit arrangements that it says will facilitate its continued growth.

BAML Managing Director Brian Gorczynski focused on Provo Craft’s technology products as the real value of the acquisition:

We are excited to acquire this interest in Provo Craft. Jim Thornton and his outstanding management team have a commendable track record of developing successful technology products.

Other contents of the press statement about the acquisition also seemed to stress that the company sees itself as a technology company, focusing on the history of the Cricut line and the debut of the Cricut Cake. The announcement also indicated that Provo Craft “expects to announce additional product innovations later this year.”

Provo Craft had revenues of over $250 million in 2009. According to a 2009 article in Utah Business magazine, the company’s revenue has doubled (and profits gone up 500%) under the tenure of current CEO Jim Thornton. That article also emphasized that the company’s future lies in technology, saying Thornton “visualizes the company becoming a half-billion dollar enterprise within the next five years as it becomes one of the top technology brands.”

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Provo Craft Issues Statement on Cricut Cake Controversy

The Cricut Cake machine that was unveiled at CHA Winter 2010 amid much buzz will be launched on HSN on April 14th. Unfortunately for Provo Craft, as that date approaches the machine’s origin has become surrounded in controversy.

The controversy has been fueled by custom cake designer Linda McClure of Vidalia, Louisiana, who has posted a lengthy statement on her website claiming to be the real inventor of the Cricut Cake machine’s concept. Her daughter has been posting on several prominent scrapbook message boards on her mother’s behalf, drawing attention to and defending her mother’s claims.

McClure filed an application on March 24th, 2010 for a patent related to the process used to cut gum paste with the Cricut machine. Whether the patent will be granted is yet to be determined in a lengthy and complex process. Approval is by no means certain.

After McClure’s allegations worked message boards into a frenzy over a few days, Provo Craft finally felt compelled to do something that is rare for them: issue a response to negative publicity. Among other things, Provo Craft claims they started development of the Cake machine in 2007:

In 2009, Linda McClure approached Provo Craft about a method of cutting gum paste, a method with which Provo Craft was already familiar and whose documented development dates as far back as 2007. We reached an informal agreement that provided for Ms. McClure to be compensated at fair market value for her time and consulting services as we prepared to launch Cricut Cake in 2010. She accepted, performed certain activities, and was compensated accordingly.

More recently, Provo Craft and Ms. McClure discussed the possibility of extending a formal consulting agreement. We believe that some of her requests, including both financial and non-financial terms, were unrealistic. Further, Linda was adamant that her requests were non-negotiable. As a result we chose not to enter a long term agreement with her, and unfortunately our relationship deteriorated.

Provo Craft’s initial research and development for Cricut Cake began in 2007. Since then, Provo Craft has conducted extensive market research and consulted with industry leaders, and both professional and aspiring cake decorators. We’re grateful for the valuable input and the enthusiastic support of these individuals, and we look forward to our continued relationship with them. We also hope you share our excitement for the fun possibilities that Cricut Cake will bring to creative kitchens everywhere.

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Provo Craft & Make The Cut: The Technology Background

As noted earlier today on Scrapbook Update, Provo Craft has filed a lawsuit against software company Make The Cut over an issue that is somewhat new to the scrapbook industry: digital copyright security protection.

One issue seems to be of particular interest to Provo Craft in the lawsuit. Make The Cut recently provided an update that included a new feature they described as “experimental”: cartridge backup. Although Make The Cut indicates that their software doesn’t create a full reproduction of cartridge date, even partial data copies was apparently enough to warrant major attention from Provo Craft’s lawyers. This may explain why Provo Craft has chosen to take action against Make The Cut while seeming to leave alone Craft Edge, the maker of Sure Cuts A Lot software which also allows cutting from a computer with Cricut machines. The Sure Cuts A Lot software doesn’t access Cricut Design Studio or allow the use/copying of cartridge images.

Creating backups via cracked security protection has long been a fought-over issue in the technology world. The issue has been fought about regarding DVD’s, gaming cartridges, and other types of media. Media companies have pretty much always held that it violates their copyrights to create back-ups of the media they sell, or to transfer those media to other formats for use (such as ripping DVD’s to store and watch on your computer). But software, which doesn’t always work but still exists, to crack the copyright protection on DVD’s continues to be distributed via the internet. An exception to this are CD’s, which iTunes even has a built-in feature for importing, because there are usually no copy protections installed on them. (One notable exception: Sony BMG got in a lot of trouble several years back for installing computer-damaging root kits on some of their CDs that caused problems for users who inserted those discs into their Windows computers. They ended up as the subject of a recall, several class action lawsuits and state & federal sanctions.)

The creation and maintenance of closed operating platforms (where a company uses copyright protections and proprietary technology on equipment or systems to control how purchasers may use them) is also a highly controversial issue to many. Apple is (in)famous for doing this with the iPhone to control what applications users may run on their phone. The phone’s lockdown has resulted in a practice called “jailbreaking” where some users hack the phone so that they can install applications other than the officially approved ones sold in the iTunes App Store. The result has been a running battle between Apple and the jailbreakers, where the iPhone is repeatedly secured with a new operating system update, and then hacked again by jailbreakers. The same battle has already started over Apple’s brand new iPad device. (This differs from devices like a personal computer, which is designed as an open system designed to have any compatible software you can get your hands on – or even write yourself – installed on it.)

Provo Craft has in essence created a closed operating system for the Cricut with the secure proprietary software that runs the machines. Only their cartridges can be used in the machines, and only their Design Studio software or Gypsy can be used to access the machines for cutting. Companies like Apple say that a closed system provides a better user experience by eliminating outside errors being brought into a system. Many users agree and like the natural simplicity of a closed system.

So why does Make The Cut (and iPhone jailbreaking) exist? Because some users feel that once they buy something they should have the right to do with it whatever they want. A certain segment of consumers sees the purchase of an item as absolute. It’s a black-and-white philosophy: “I own it, so I should be able to do what I want with it.” These users chafe under limitations of a closed system.

These issues may be new to the scrapbook industry, but they certainly aren’t new to technology. As technology invades the scrapbook industry more, we will see more and more of them.

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