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Ellison Sues 5 Companies, Alleging Patent Infringement

Ellison Educational Equipment, the parent company of Sizzix brand, has sued five companies over the past few months alleging infringement of a die technology patent that they own. Since November 2018, the company has sued Prima Marketing, Stephanie Barnard (and her The Stamps of Life company), Hero Arts, Avery Elle, and Heartfelt Creations.

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The ‘325 Patent

The patent at issue in the lawsuits filed by Ellison is No. 9,079,325 (referred to here and in court filings as the ‘325 patent for the sake of brevity). The first paperwork related to the application for this patent was filed on July 15th, 2011. The formal patent application is dated July 26th, 2012. The patent was ultimately granted on July 14th, 2015.

The ‘325 patent has three elements, or “claims” in patent law terminology. All of these claims relate to the construction and use of chemically etched metal dies. These are the dies commonly called “thin metal dies” by crafters.

Claim One: The first element of this claim is the actual structure of the die. The patent claims ownership of the technology of manufacturing dies with an open center – as virtually all thin metal dies manufactured today are – that do not have a lip extending past the cutting edge into the center of the die.

A method for cutting out, by means of a first die, a shape that is printed on a sheet material, wherein the die includes an inside opening that corresponds to the shape to be cut from the sheet material, a flat outside border having first and opposite faces that surround said inside opening, and a cutting edge that projects from the first face of the flat outside border, such that said cutting edge surrounds the inside opening of said first die and corresponds exactly with the shape that is printed on the sheet material and none of the flat outside border of said die extends into the inside opening of said die

To put that description in graphic terms, it means a die with the profile below. (Graphic taken from the patent.)

325 Patent Illustration - figure 4

325 patent illustration - figure 6

Claim one goes even further though, taking ownership of the technique of using dies designed like this by aligning the die with a shape (such as a stamped image) on material (such as paper) and then putting the die and material through a die cut machine to cut the shape out.

said method comprising the steps of:

locating the shape printed on the sheet material to be cut therefrom;

placing the cutting edge which projects from the first face of the flat outside border of said first die directly against the sheet material, and looking through the inside opening of said first die so that the shape printed on the sheet material is located entirely within the inside opening of said first die and the cutting edge which projects from the first face of said flat outside border is automatically registered so as to surround the shape to be cut from the sheet material;

positioning said first die and the sheet material having the shape to be cut therefrom within a roller press; and

moving said first die and said sheet material through said roller press for causing a force to be applied to the opposite face of the flat outside border of said first die after said cutting edge has first been placed against the sheet material and said first die and said sheet material have been positioned in said roller press for pushing said cutting edge through said sheet material to cut the shape outwardly therefrom.

An illustration accompanying the patent shows a basic die cutting out a stamped shape:
325 patent illustration - figure 8

Claim Two: This claim stipulates that the die utilized in step one is created using a chemical etching process from a flat sheet of metal.

Claim Three: The last claim patents ownership of the invention of nested dies that are shaped like the image above.

forming at least a second die by chemically etching the flat piece of metal, such that the second die is nested within and spaced from the first die so as to lie at the inside opening of said first die, whereby the size of the inside opening of said first die is larger than said second die.
The patent’s illustrations show the nesting concept in product form:
325 patent illustration - figure 9

The Lawsuits

Ellison is being represented in the four California cases by lawyers from Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, P.C. The case against Heartfelt Creations is located in Indiana and required hiring local counsel, so their representatives there are attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. Various attorneys are representing the different defendants in the case, although several of the companies have called on creative industry intellectual property law specialist Tammy Browning-Smith as an assistant counsel in their cases.

Ellison has not responded to a request for comment on their pending litigation.

Stephanie Barnard Designs

The first suit was filed against Stephanie Barnard and Stephanie Barnard Designs (dba The Stamps of Life) on November 15th, 2018. In addition, the suit names as defendants unknown parties referred to as Does 1-10. Barnard has been a licensed product designer for Sizzix for nearly a decade, but the suit alleges she and her company are violating the ‘325 patent by producing products for The Stamps of Life that are covered by the patent that aren’t licensed from Ellison.

In an amended complaint filed against Barnard in December, the company also alleges Barnard and The Stamps of Life are violating the ‘325 patent by teaching the method described in Claim 1 of the patent in videos on the website:

In addition to directly infringing the ‘325 Patent, Defendants indirectly infringe on the ‘325 Patent by instructing, directing and/or requiring others, including customers, purchasers, users and developers, to perform some of the steps of the method claim, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents, of the ‘325 Patent, where all of the steps of the method claim is performed by either Defendants or its customers, purchasers, users and developers, or some combination thereof.

Barnard filed a response in mid-January, categorically denying Ellison’s claims of infringement. She also filed a counter-claim against Ellison, alleging the ‘325 patent is invalid and therefore cannot be enforced:

An actual case or controversy exists between Counterclaimant Barnard and Counterdefendant Ellison concerning validity of the ’325 Patent by virtue of Counterdefendant Ellison’s assertion of infringement of the patent.

The claims of the ’325 Patent are invalid on the ground that the purported invention, attempted to be patented therein, fails to meet the conditions of patentability specified in Title 35 of the United States Code, including, but not limited to, the conditions specified in 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103, and/or 112 of the Code.

The sections of U.S. code cited refer to specific things regarding patents. Section 101 refers to patents only being granted to inventors of an item. Section 102 refers to prior art and when its presence does and doesn’t impede the ability to patent. Section 103 is very brief, simply precludes granting of patents ” if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains.” Section 112 deals with how an inventions specifications must be described in a patent. (Read the entire text the U.S. code on the U.S. PTO website here.)

A Special Master has been appointed in the case, and the parties are entering the discovery phase of the litigation. Trial is scheduled for September 2020.

Stephanie Barnard declined to comment to Scrapbook Update on the pending litigation.

Prima Marketing

Ellison filed two lawsuits on December 21st, 2018. One was against Prima Marketing. Like in the previous suit, the Prima Marketing suit also alleged infringement against who it called Does 1-10 that it said it was “ignorant to the true names and capacities of” but who it alleged “were and are a moving, active, conscious force behind the infringement of Ellison’s rights.”

Prima has never been known as a major die producer. Its only product line that incorporates dies in a major way is the Julie Nutting paper dolls line – and that is the product line cited repeatedly in Ellison’s court complaint against Prima. Other than the company-specific details, the complaint is generally a duplicate of the one against Stephanie Barnard.

One difference of note from the previous suit is that Prima was sent a cease & desist notice shortly before Ellison took the matter to court, a step that isn’t mentioned in the Stephanie Barnard filings. One of the demands in the cease & desist was that Prima “provide information on the manufacturer(s) or source(s)” of the allegedly infringing products. Another notable difference is that where no time frame is used in describing Ellison’s discovery of Stephanie Barnard’s alleged infringement, Ellison’s court filing in the Prima case says that “Ellison recently discovered that Prima is making or having their patterns made into chemically-etched dies that perform the method taught by the ’325 Patent.” [emphasis added]

in mid-February 2019, Prima filed a response to the suit taking much the same position as Stephanie Barnard and challenging the validity of the ‘325 patent based on the same sections of U.S. code. However, by mid-March, the parties reached a settlement and the case was quickly closed. Terms of the settlement are confidential and neither party has responded to a request from Scrapbook Update for comment. But the Julie Nutting dies (and all except a handful of their other ones) have disappeared from product listings on the Prima website, and the video cited in the suit as infringing has been removed from Prima’s YouTube as well. (The Julie Nutting and other Prima dies can still be found for sale on sites such as Scrapbook.com and Amazon.com, though.)

Prima has not responded to a request from Scrapbook Update to comment on its settlement with Ellison.

Hero Arts

The second lawsuit filed by Ellison on December 21st, 2018 was against Hero Arts. Like with the previous suits, it also names as defendants unknown persons or entities as Does 1-10. According to the filing, Hero Arts was sent a cease & desist order on December 12th, 2018. Like with the Prima c&d letter, Ellison demanded information on the source of the products from Hero Arts.

The Hero Arts complaint is largely the same as the Prima one filed the same day, with the exception of the company-specific information. It contains the same language about recent discovery of the alleged infringement. Ellison alleges infringement by dies Hero Arts make that match their stamp sets. But the filing also returns to a theme from the original Stephanie Barnard case by alleging the company is also infringing the method in the ‘325 patent through video content produced by their design team that is “teaching members of the public how to infringe the ’325 Patent”.

One section of the Ellison complaint against Hero Arts appears erroneous. It shows photos of two of Hero Arts’ layering stamps, under a caption that labels them as infringing products. There are no dies (the product covered by the patent) in the images. I wasn’t the only one confused by this, since Hero Arts’ response to that paragraph in their next filing says “it does not understand the allegations of that paragraph.”

Hero Arts filed their response to the suit on March 8th, 2019. Like the other defendants, they are challenging the validity of the ‘325 patent in a counterclaim against Ellison. But they are taking their defense further, asserting fourteen different affirmative defenses.

Under the proposed schedule, which hasn’t yet been made final, the case would be scheduled for trial on August 24th, 2020.

A representative for Hero Arts responded to Scrapbook Update with the following statement when asked for comment:

Hero Arts firmly believes this lawsuit is without merit.  Hero Arts does not infringe Sizzix’s patent nor does it encourage anyone else to do so. Hero Arts intends to fight this lawsuit and win.   But mostly, I am very disappointed in Sizzix’s decision to sue before even trying to resolve any issues they have in a respectful manner that involves talking as opposed to engaging in a blunt legal process, which is bad for everyone — Hero Arts, Sizzix, and the entire community.  We are fortunate that we all get to play, craft and create together in this wonderful industry, and I, as one of the members of this fine community, intend to do what I can to keep this misguided action from fracturing the cooperative, family spirt that has been the norm for so many years.

Avery Elle

Ellison filed suit against Avery Elle and unknown defendants named as Does 1-10 alleging infringement of the ‘325 patent on January 25th, 2019. Ellison says in court documents that it served Avery Elle a cease & desist notice on January 15th, 2019 – two days before the first education day at the Creativation trade show at which both companies exhibited.

The court filing against Avery Elle is again largely a duplicate of the previous filings, with the exception of the company specific material. Ellison alleges that Avery Elle violated the ‘325 patent both through its product sales and through indirect infringement by instructing others on how to do the method included in the patent. A video on the Avery Elle YouTube channel (that has since been removed) is cited as evidence of the indirect infringement.

Avery Elle filed a response on March 6th denying infringement of the ‘325 patent, challenging the patent’s validity, and also claiming several affirmative defenses. The same day, they also filed a counterclaim response asking for a judgement declaring the ‘325 patent invalid, as well as a judgement declaring their non-infringement of the patent.

Ellison responded to the counterclaim in a filing on March 27th, 2019 asserting the validity of the ‘325 patent and denying Avery Elle’s arguments of a right to relief.

No schedule has yet been set for trial or further hearings in the case.

Avery Elle’s representative has not supplied a comment to Scrapbook Update as of publication time of this article.

Heartfelt Creations

The most recent case filed by Ellison alleging infringement of the ‘325 patent was filed against Heartfelt Creations (and unknown defendants Does 1-10) on February 18th, 2019. It’s the first of the suits to target a company outside of California, where Ellison is headquartered. Ellison says Heartfelt Creations was served with a cease & desist letter on December 21st, 2018.

As with the previous lawsuits, Ellison is alleging that Heartfelt Creations is violating the ‘325 patent with both the products it sells and by instructing others on the method included in the ‘325 patent. The court filing cites content from the Heartfelt Creations YouTube channel as proof of the indirect infringement by teaching of the method.

Heartfelt Creations has until April 23rd to file its initial response in the case. The company, when asked for comment, confirmed the existence of the suit and told Scrapbook Update that “We are investigating their accusations and will be able to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

The Analysis

Ellison is claiming ownership via the ‘325 patent of not just thin metal dies that have a completely open center (with no lip that extends past the cutting edge towards the middle), but also the technique of aligning them with a stamped image and running them through a die cut machine to cut out the image. The ‘325 patent also claims ownership of so-called “nested” dies created with the open centers.

Several designer/bloggers are called out by name in the various court filings as examples of infringement of the patent by teaching in videos this method described in the ‘325 patent. This will almost certainly have a chilling effect on the production of influencer content using stamps with matching dies until more clarity is brought to the legal situation regarding the ‘325 patent.

This isn’t the first time, of course, that craft industry companies have fought over technology that involved chemically etched dies with open centers. Spellbinders fought for several years to enforce a patent it had on chemically etched die technology against QuicKutz, ultimately losing both the case and the patent in 2013. The ghost of that case will almost certainly come back to haunt the new Ellison-filed cases, for multiple reasons.

One of the key reasons the Spellbinders patent fight will be relevant to the new cases will involve the question of prior art. Whether there is “prior art” of the concept is key to determining if something can be patented. Lack of prior art by other companies or individuals is typically seen by the patent office as proof an idea is unique. However, the market for thin metal dies with open centers was artificially chilled during the period of 2009 to 2013 while the Spellbinders case was ongoing. The vast majority of companies were holding out of the thin metal die market waiting to see if the patent suit was won or not. It was right in the middle of that period, in June 2012, that Ellison applied for the ‘325 patent. The final appeal in the Spellbinders case wasn’t over until the patent was declared invalid in the summer of 2013. Then the market started to be flooded with thin metal dies (including ones that matched stamps) in early 2014.

Perhaps the biggest question remaining to be answered about the Ellison suits – besides who will eventually prevail in them in court – is why Ellison seemingly suddenly chose now to go on the offense regarding the ‘325 patent that it has held since 2015. Two of the specific products cited in the court complaints were already on the market prior to the granting date of the ‘325 patent. So why did Ellison wait until late 2018 to begin enforcement instead of following the model utilized by My Sweet Petunia with their stamp platform patent to begin pursuing alleged infringement the moment the patent was approved? Ellison will have to answer that question eventually, since Hero Arts has raised it in its response as one of its affirmative defenses (the doctrine of laches).

Ellison also holds a patent similar to the ‘325 patent in China (Click here to view) that was granted in April 2016, after the U.S. patent had been granted. Online records show at least one suit filed early in 2018 in China in defense of that patent, months before the first U.S. suit was filed. Scrapbook Update has been unable to confirm the outcome of that case or the existence of any others.

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85 Responses to Ellison Sues 5 Companies, Alleging Patent Infringement

  1. Maureen Wong April 5, 2019 at 10:59 pm #

    I feel like everybody’s missing something here – the allegation is that the dies “do not have a lip extending past the cutting edge into the center of the die,” but AFAIK, all other dies DO have a lip extending past the cutting edge into the center of the die. I remember when Sizzix came out with this technology – it was the only way to not have a “halo” cut around the die cut because the cutting edge was right on the edge of the die, as opposed to being somewhat sandwiched within in, making it harder to perfectly line up the cutting edges right next to the stamped lines. I don’t believe there is any infringement on this very specific piece of technology!

    • Liz April 13, 2019 at 10:17 pm #

      I think hero arts stamp n cut has the same design

  2. C Lucas April 6, 2019 at 12:13 am #

    I agree with Maureen Wong. I too remember when Sizzix came out with this technology. Since it appears the heart of these lawsuits is regarding the “lip” of the die and I know of no example that infringes on this specific piece of technology, in my opinion, there is no basis for these lawsuits.

  3. scrapjanny April 6, 2019 at 8:35 am #

    How can you patent a technique? What is this industry coming to?

    • Karen L April 14, 2019 at 3:20 am #

      This flummoxes me too. The sell the stamps, they sell the dies: are the buyers just supposed to sit and look at them and NOT use them for their clear intended purpose??? It makes no sense.

    • Viki Banaszak May 2, 2019 at 12:31 am #

      As far as I know you can’t. How does one teach art or music or even math if you cannot show a student how it is done.

  4. mousebaby April 6, 2019 at 9:43 am #

    I feel like Ellison/Sizzix is behaving like a spoiled child that is stamping their feet and screaming they’re copying me!

  5. Linda S. April 6, 2019 at 10:46 am #

    Naming bloggers who teach techniques seems unnecessarily petty but I think we can vote with our pocketbooks if we don’t like how Ellison/Sizzix is behaving.

    • Jean Heming April 6, 2019 at 7:56 pm #

      THEY JUST LOST MY BUSINESS TOO!!! when Sweet petunia did her law suit ,I sent her a letter telling her I bought 2 of her stamp positioners and felt If I wanted to buy Tim Holtzs stamp positioner I should have the right to try his!!! She never responded to me…Her hinges are terrible on that posiyioner because crack withtlittle use, I also have a stampin up positioner and a we r memories positioner, which is my favorite, but I still go back and use the scrapbooking mist for Gina mega wreathbuilder… they all have their uses…I have hundreds of dies…We will remember Ellison after this…as being aweful!!! exactly what I think of Sweet Petunia…greedy greedy!!! thank you for letting us know of this!!!

  6. Lizann April 6, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    What a shame they are doing this! There is so much talent and so many users out there, that everyone can be successful and make a living. Just sounds like greed and bullying to me.

    • Angela M Richter May 1, 2019 at 7:58 pm #

      I come from a fairly small town, Redlands, California, and it was a well-known beef when a 2nd stamp selling company opened (a very nice one) and the oldie but goodie in the city didn’t think there was enough room in one town for two so the newer (just as nice one) went out of business! NOT NICE!

      • Paula Calvanico May 26, 2019 at 2:21 am #

        I live in Redlands too, can I assume it’s CJ’s you’re speaking of?

    • Viki Banaszak May 2, 2019 at 12:43 am #

      I think the real beef of the mater, since they have waited all this time to file, is that Ellison is a corporation. Profits go down when you don’t continue to promote and come up with new innovative ideas and they see their profit margin slipping away with so many other new companies entering the market. They think they can start to bully the competition and get their big bucks back. They were top dog for a very long time and now the old man is looking tired. How many really great designers do they have?

  7. Venise Nathan April 6, 2019 at 11:02 am #

    I think their creativity is the problem I don’t know about anybody else out of all the dies that I own Sizzix is the lease all the other companies market intricate dies that most of us love if it wasn’t for the big shot and Tim they would have been gone belly up just my opinion

    • Josmary Flores April 9, 2019 at 1:42 pm #

      Omg I didn’t realize some of Tim’s products were sizzix love that guy but won’t be supporting anything sizzix and or it’s companies

      • Venise Nathan April 15, 2019 at 10:47 am #

        Stampin Up too forgot about them they make all their products

        • Sally April 16, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

          Not anymore. SU! is actively looking at their own because of this and Sizzix has been pulled from the new catalog coming out in June.

        • Bobby Fort April 17, 2019 at 6:36 am #

          Stampin up has now broken ties with sizzix as of the new annual catalog release June 2019. It contains no sizzix machines or dies.

        • Susan Loeffler April 17, 2019 at 8:39 pm #

          Stampin Up has changed vendors for their dies.

        • LIZABETH April 20, 2019 at 5:42 am #

          STAMPIN UP WILL NO LONGER USE ANYTHING FROM SIZZIX GO TO THEIR WEBSITE. AT 1ST I WAS MAD BUT NOW AFTER READING THIS IM VERY PROUD OF THEM.

        • Laura W April 28, 2019 at 3:44 pm #

          Not any more… Stampin Up will no longer have any Sizzix products as of their new annual catalog in June 2019.

  8. Di April 6, 2019 at 12:54 pm #

    Well ml i guess since the company that “invented” the very overpriced Misty won their big lawsuit, everyone else has to jump in too. Sad, sad, sad. No more sizzix for me.

  9. tina kuhlman April 6, 2019 at 1:31 pm #

    i would not have purchased a single item if it wasn’t for the bloggers. as of this moment i will be boycotting them and spending my money on products that don’t bully.. thats just my opinion. this is a big company that wants to push out smaller competitors that don’t have the big money to fight something like this.

  10. Carol Salter April 6, 2019 at 4:54 pm #

    They just lost my business.

  11. Debra Ferreria April 6, 2019 at 5:11 pm #

    It seems like something is missing here. Why wait so long to file, the thin dies were everywhere by then? Why choose these 5? Ellison/Sizzix doesn’t have that much variety in their thin metal does to be that propietary? What is it we are not hearing about?

    • Deb Montijo April 7, 2019 at 9:54 pm #

      Money.

  12. Gab April 7, 2019 at 5:25 am #

    It does seem really strange that they waited this long

  13. Olwen Turns April 7, 2019 at 6:30 am #

    I could understand it if they were sueing over the chunky original dies and the thinlets but how can you patent something years after a lot of people are using the technique to make thier products and how was the technique leaked to other manufacturers?

  14. Helen April 7, 2019 at 5:54 pm #

    This is just sad to see a big company is trying to kick the smaller companies out of business.

    You will not gain anything for trying to monopoly the market.

  15. Shemaine Smith April 7, 2019 at 6:49 pm #

    I personally think everyone should stop making videos featuring the Big Shot or any of their die cutting machines in the videos. They have been receiving thousands of dollars in FREE advertising from Industry professionals and novices who make videos showing their product for years! I’m sure these videos led to purchasing by the consumer of the product featured. This seems like a really bad move for them and will negatively affect the crafting industry.

    • Shawn Russell April 9, 2019 at 8:28 am #

      I think end users should go one step future and discuss in their videos not using Sizzix and give a boost to Gemini.

      • Liz April 10, 2019 at 10:44 pm #

        I’m happy with my Cuttlebug that cost me less than half of what I would have paid for a Big Shot. With limited crafting space, I like that the sides fold up to take up less room. I’d love a Gemini but have no room for it, especially since it would have to be near an electrical outlet.

  16. Jan Scholl April 8, 2019 at 2:09 am #

    I am sitting here looking at a Hero Arts die set and a set from a company not named in the lawsuit. I had to really struggle to see what was different in the die (other than non US made dies are thinner, which is why I stopped buying them). I can see just a tinge of metal inside the open area on the non lawsuit dfie. Just barely. I haven’t purchased any Sizzix dies in years. I planned on donating them to a scouting group until my grand daughter knew about them. I prefer the smaller companies with matching stamps. Made in the USA dies.

  17. Shawn Russell April 9, 2019 at 8:28 am #

    I am glad I bought a Gemini Jr. I don’t own anything by Sizzix and now do not plan to in the future. I am pissed off enough to start several YouTube channels and encourage others to purchase die cutters not made by Sizzix. I also intend to email Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joann in support of them carrying Gemini products.

  18. Cheri April 9, 2019 at 10:50 am #

    No more Sizzix for me! I heard the company was no longer standing behind their product in selling or offering replacement parts. Now these lawsuits….so done with them!

  19. Kate April 9, 2019 at 12:19 pm #

    I think it’s important that people and companies don’t infringe in copyright just like people and companies should not rip off designs/photographs/etc of people’s intellectual property. I’m waiting to reserve judgment until more information comes out in court, etc.

    • CathiT April 11, 2019 at 5:21 pm #

      I agree with you, Kate. If Sizzix truly created the technique/technology then they have a right to own the patent. My husband is a photographer and one of his photos that is unique has been copied and stolen from his website and used on multiple business websites. I sent cease and desist letters/emails to them to get the to stop using it. It was his talent, his photographic eye and view of an object and others do not have a right to use it without permission. Now, if the judgement finds in favor of the defendants, so be it and that ends the discussion. As for mentions of the Misti, I don’t understand why people are so angry about them pursuing their right to own their invention. No one had such a stamp alignment product until they created theirs. Fiskars was the only thing I ever saw that was close and it was still very different. I love all of the other companies that are mentioned and buy from the regularly but I support the patent/trademark process.

    • KathyF April 26, 2019 at 5:37 am #

      I also agree with Kate. ANYONE who has poured countless hours into creating would want to have the right to ownership/patent of their creation, and if that patent was in place would have the right to protect that patent. I will withhold judgement until all the facts come out. I do find it odd that they have waited this long to file these claims. Maybe it does have something to do with the Misti lawsuit. That information may also come out in the future. Back to MSP, I certainly understand why she would be upset about Hampton Art. Their design was nearly if not identical. My personal opinion is that the Tonic and WRMK designs were different enough to not be included.

      Quite a few people have criticized Jennifer M, Lydia, Kristina and other blogger friends for not denouncing the Misti and Iliana. I cannot disagree more with anyone who suggests attacking and then abandoning a friend in need. Whether or not Iliana is right or wrong is irrelevant. The fact that she was going through a really hard time was super relevant. What better time to have a valued friend give you calm advice rather than jumping on the band wagon of the moment. I applaud those who stood with her despite the hurtful comments to themselves. It’s easy to judge and then pretty much anonymously vent on a platform like this with no repercussions. It’s quite a different story for those whose livleyhood depends on the social platforms to survive. Who knows, maybe if more friends had stood with her she wouldn’t have felt the need to lash out to the extent that she did. Just a thought.

      P.S. While I know that Jennifer M does not need the blogging platform to feed her family – her husband makes a very substantial living, she paid the price in other ways when she stood behind Iliana in still using the Misti.

  20. Josmary Flores April 9, 2019 at 1:38 pm #

    Sizzix and all their companies is not getting a dime from me anymore. Hope hero arts wins for the sake of the entire industry and those small ones than can not fight this. I’m glad to have being supporting hero arts not only for their wonderful kits and products but in the process I have discover how generous his owner is and also how much he gives back to the communities and enviroment. Hero arts has a customer for life also mft owner is so wonderful.

  21. Pam Roth April 10, 2019 at 12:02 am #

    Between Ellison suing and The pink tools owner suing..they are sucking all the fun out of the craft.So when they win what do they have?A lot of ticked off customers who will go elsewhere for product.Congrats Ellison you just sunk your own boat.

  22. Deb Smeak April 10, 2019 at 11:05 am #

    Stampin’ Up! just announced they are dropping all the Sizzix thinlits and framelits as well as the Big Shot and all the textured impressions embossing folders. They will be coming up with their own in the following months that will not be infringing on any copyrights, real or imagined. That speaks volumes! And when SU! came out with the Stamparatus, it was very different from all the other positioners and very well made. I’m so excited to see what they come up with. Stamin’ Up! has high quality and high standards. I will be spending my money with them.

    • Pat April 14, 2019 at 1:11 am #

      Unfortunately, Deb, Sweet Petunia is also suing SU for their stamp positioner. To me they are two very different products, but there you go😟. Keep this up, and this industry is going to self destruct. So sad😟

  23. Cindy April 10, 2019 at 6:38 pm #

    I am missing a screw that goes with my Stampin Up Big Shot. Contacted Sizzix…they refused to give me any help. It is a screw. Really? My money will no longer go to anything of theirs.

  24. Robin Kepler April 11, 2019 at 12:51 am #

    I find it odd that they would bring suit against Stephanie Barnard’s company. She thought up so many unique and profitable designs for Sizzix. Just downright sad. I understand too that StampinUp, who has had a partnership with Sizzix for their dies and the Big Shot, will be revealing a new cutting machine soon. I do hope that all of the companies survive these legal proceedings. It will be very interesting how this all shakes out in the long run.

    • Nancy Nally April 11, 2019 at 12:36 pm #

      I’ve not seen anything so far indicating a new die cutting machine…just discontinuing selling the Big Shot and starting to use a new supplier for making their dies.

  25. Renate Hansen April 11, 2019 at 8:19 am #

    I have lots of dies from lots of companies,and I was never choosy about what brand they where. I also have more than one die cutting machine. The first machine being big shot. That being said—- I will buy from all other companies as I have before with the one exception.I will no longer buy from sissix Ellison you are being very greedy. When the misti came out I bought them and I also bought from other companies because the Misti just was too flimsy. Haveing a product with a patent does not make it better, and although I really love my crafts I moreso love the fact that I could choose what to buy and from witch company’s. So in my opinion Ellison live and let live or your company may just die of greed.

  26. Alicia Mayo April 13, 2019 at 11:07 am #

    I’m in love with Hero Arts, haven’t tried Avery Elle’s products before…but I will buy whatever I can from here on out with these companies that are being sued and NOTHING from Ellison/Sizzix again. Should have tried the respectful route first and shame on them for not.

  27. Liz April 13, 2019 at 10:07 pm #

    I understand people being upset about things like the misti patent lawsuit and this one too. But the misti was a revolutionary tool and the inventor got a patent. It gives her the right to protect the product she worked To develop. It takes years and loads of money to develop products. As for Ellison and Sizzix, they came up with a new feature for dies with out a lip and have patented that design. They have a right to protect their patent. Remember they are a business, and every business wants to have unique products that distinguish their business from others. I am not sure why they would not have tried to negotiate with the companies Before sueing them. That part is rather smarmy. If other companies are infring8ng on their intellectual property those companies can try to develop their own solution to the problem of die align,ent. As for me, I .rarely buy Ellison Sizzix products. I don’t much care for most of their designs, but am lesss likely to.buy now

    • Sue T April 16, 2019 at 10:48 pm #

      Yes you are right, but wouldn’t you think they would have really protected their right. Remember patient s only last so long, because the laws have changed compare to 20 or more years ago. Knowing that one must stay on top and I’m sure they did, but they must change or tweak it from time to time, in order for the patent to stay consistent. My ex had a really great idea for which he had it patent, and To protect it he had to change it a little from time to time. He had a real good friend who gave him great advise. He used it and to this day it is protected.

      • Viki Banaszak May 2, 2019 at 1:29 am #

        Perhaps they are under new management. That happened when I worked for Michael’s and when the new owners took over they cut every benefit they could get away with. No more bonuses for Christmas, no turkey for thanksgiving, no more sales of oops frames. Those are frames that come in damaged or the wrong size. They used to sell them in the store at a huge discount and when the new management took over they made us throw them in the crusher. My heart broke for the waste it caused. Two hundred dollar frames tossed in the trash and crushed. All for the almighty write off on taxes. We also sold bags of clearance items for cheap to move them sometimes so they wouldn’t end up in the trash before the new management took over. Honestly, I think they get these kids out of business school that are taught only how to make money at the cost of anything else. I worked in the frame shop for over 10 years and they would come in and say do it this way, and if you told them the way it said to in the mannuel written by actual professional framers, you’d get kicked in the pants. It didn’t matter if the way they wanted it done was wrong or not. They don’t care. Do it their way or else because they went to an almighty business school and is smart. LOL They even made us throw out a 5,000.$$ oval cutter because they didn’t want us to cut oval mats any more. We could have sold it to another frame shop somewhere, but it got crushed and sent to the land fill. Enough of that rant. Sorry, not sorry. These people have no common sense or decency and after all these years, I am still pissed at the way they treated us and the customers. That and I had to train so many new people because all the people who had been there for years and knew their job, well they all left. It is pretty bad when you are training someone and have to tell them, This is the way they want you to do it but this is the correct way to do it. Oh, I guess I wasn’t quite all done unloading.

        • Nancy Nally May 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm #

          Ellison got a new CEO last year when the one from the family that founded the company stepped aside (she’s still on the company’s board). She was replaced by an executive from the company’s U.K. division.

    • catmom5 April 23, 2019 at 11:42 pm #

      Liz, you made excellent points. I think it’s hard for a lot of people in this competitive market to see it that way, however if we’re going to encourage people to keep inventing new products, we have to somehow protect that process. I know we all like to get the best bang for our buck, yet, like you mentioned, a product like the MISTI, was a real change for the stamping industry, and she should be protected for her hard work. It’s also up to the user to use the product with care, nothing is indestructible.

  28. Liz April 13, 2019 at 10:30 pm #

    Interesting that Stephanie Barnard designs for Sizzix. I wonder if for stamps of life company used a different manufacturer other than Ellison for production. Perhaps that is wh6 ellisons lawsuit is requesting to know wha5 company was making them. Maybe a cheaper manufacturer came into the market. Waffle flower was able to reduce the cost of their dies recently. Maybe Ellison is losing business manufacturing for other design companies???

    • Nancy Nally April 14, 2019 at 12:46 pm #

      Ellison would have no grounds for a patent infringement suit if they were manufacturing the Stamps of Life dies for Stephanie Barnard, so yes, the fact that the lawsuit exists at all means they aren’t making TSOL dies. Ellison is not only explicitly asking in all of the suits to know who the manufacturers of the dies are, but also naming them as co-defendants in the suits by way of the use of “Does 1-10”.

  29. Christine April 14, 2019 at 11:53 am #

    GREED. Must be friends with Misti. Like someone said they are taking to fun out of the craft. The Misti tool is crappy and over priced. Tim Holtz and SU! hit the home run and she is pissed. Misti lady is a one shot wonder. She should take her money and actually invent something. Her ruler is a joke! I don’t understand why the big bloggers have not boycott Misti since they are willing to boycott Ellison/Sizzix. Both companies are behaving the same. Both are greedy. Anyone should be able to offer similar or better versions. There are enough of us buying to spread the wealth. I for one buy from companies that provide quality and amazing customer service. Misti does NOT replace broken hinges! Why would anyone want to support her is beyond me. I really hope SU! dies not back down like Tonic did. Someone needs to stop her!

    • Nancy Nally April 14, 2019 at 12:54 pm #

      Fifteen years ago it may have been true that there was enough money to go around for everyone who wanted to make a product in the scrapbook industry but that simply isn’t the case anymore. This is why you see companies working so hard to protect their slice of the market – the overall pie is shrinking so companies have to make sure simply to survive that their piece of it doesn’t get sliced up any further by competitors taking pieces of it. Ellison (and the other manual die companies) have been hit hard by the increasing popularity of electronic die machines, so they are facing a double whammy. Not only is the market overall shrinking, but technology is shrinking their segment of it as well.

      • Renee Scruton Robinson May 26, 2019 at 3:22 pm #

        Nancy Nally….you stated that “Ellison (and the other manual die companies) have been hit hard by the increasing popularity of electronic die machines….”Ellison/Sizzix HAS an electronic die machine! They actually have TWO ELECTRONIC DIE MACHINES IN THEIR LINE–the Tim Holtz Vagabond and the Big Shot Express. They were beyond my budget, at least until after I was able to purchase the Crafter’s Companion Gemini on monthly payments. Now these two Sizzix die cutters appear to be more reasonably priced. When I think about the outrageous prices I’ve paid for sizzix die sets in the past, it makes me feel taken advantage of by a business that was able to charge astronomical prices for products until other manufacturers came along with more reasonably priced items. and, now sizzix is ticked off that they are losing their grip on the market here in the US.

        • Nancy Nally May 27, 2019 at 12:33 pm #

          The Vagabond and Big Shot Express are electric powered but not electronic in the sense that they use microchips. Perhaps it would have been clearer if I said computerized…I was referring to the Cricut, Brother Scan n’ Cut, and Silhouette machines, and the damage they have done to the market for manual machines.

    • Anna May 27, 2019 at 9:52 am #

      Exactly!! Tim built a better mousetrap. I was never impressed with MISTI I thought that it was very poor quality for the price. The Tim Holtz one was far better and really well thought out. I bought two of his before they were gone. Supposedly the two parties met and hashed out a deal.
      All I know is Tim’s stamper was far superior to the MISTI.

  30. Tiffani D Pool April 15, 2019 at 7:25 am #

    Due to the nature of these rediculous lawsuits against fellow friends and crafters. I will no longer be buying anything made by sizzix or Ellison. This is shameful on their part and I will be passing this advise around

  31. Kenny Fry April 15, 2019 at 5:19 pm #

    [This comment has been cross-posted at the Craft Industry Alliance and Hero Arts].

    As someone who has lurked on the edges on the stamping/paper crafting industry and community for over six years now, I would like to offer a point of view the that is shaped by 23 years of working for a global Fortune 100 company that was passionate, fervent – and at times, vehement – in defending its globally recognized brand…

    …and, given the passionately loyal nature of the stamping/paper crafting community, I am well aware of the heresy I may be committing.

    As a couple of commenters on all three sites have astutely – and correctly – pointed out: at the end of the day, this is about intellectual property (IP), so at the end of the day, this is about money.

    There is a saying in Corporate America: “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”.

    Unfortunately, when money is involved, I don’t think this is the case any longer, especially in this day and age of shrinking margins and declining profits for mid-size to small companies and manufacturers.

    Licensing a company’s IP is the legal route to pursue, and sometimes, companies will license or give permission for use of their IP for a minimal, even token, cost that allows the owning company to continue demonstrating their ownership of the IP, especially when it comes to what may considered “commonly accepted” manufacturing processes, design elements, etc.

    However, “borrowing” or outright copying a company’s IP without licensing or permission is not acceptable – and when that happens, a company has the right to use the legal avenues available to protect their IP.

    Related: the stamp company My Favorite Things has a page specifically designated to report counterfeit products (https://www.mftstamps.com/counterfeit) – “We continue to do everything possible to protect our brand.”

    Several commenters on all three sites have drawn comparisons to the MISTI/Tim Holtz Stamp Platform debacle.

    It is interesting to note similarities between that situation and this one, with the caveat being the inconvenient truth that Iliana Myska, the owner of My Sweet Petunia, did not, in fact, invent the concept/idea of the “stamp platform”.

    When My Sweet Petunia’s litigation against Tonic Studios was first announced in 2017, people involved in various aspects of the stamping/paper crafting industry for 20+ years confirmed this to me in-person, and I saw similar discussions via online boards and comments on blog posts (it’s interesting to note that the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform will still be manufactured and available in the U.K. and Europe, where IP law is much clearer/defined than in the U.S; in my opinion, Tonic Studios, the manufacturer of the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, should not have settled with My Sweet Petunia).

    I agree that it’s unfortunate that Ellison Educational Products Inc. (the parent company of Sizzix) has landed on Hero Arts the way they have; however, given that both Ellison and Tonic Studios Ltd. (the parent company of Tonic Studios USA Inc.) are both based in the U.K., I can’t help but wonder if Ellison’s actions are based on Tonic Studios’ experience with My Sweet Petunia here in the U.S.

    At the end of the day, I hope an amicable resolution can be reached that maintains the reputation of both companies, recognizes and respects the IP of the companies involved (if necessary), and benefits the creative interests of the the stamping/paper crafting industry and community worldwide.

  32. Sue T. April 16, 2019 at 10:34 pm #

    I don’t understand why as stated above “why they waited so long” if they knew in the beginning that this might had become an issue why did they not recognize it, or was it a ploy to get money out of many successful businesses, or is it, that Ellison and Sizzix are having money problems. As I understand SU will no longer carry Sizzix Big Shot. They are looking into other or making their own cutting machine.
    What I think they created something big for themselves, as in a gapping big hole, for which there will be no return.
    Sizzix and Ellison will become the black sheep in this mess, they should heed warnings from crafters. After this they probably will barely stay in business.

    • Anna May 27, 2019 at 10:04 am #

      I understand where you are coming from but Ellison PAID Stephanie to create for THEM. She has made them a lot of money over the years and schlepped their products all over the country. She will be forced to use the machines for the next year or so but after that no more. The simple fact that they paid her to create dies and stamps and do video demos is the laughable part of their suit. And their audacity to phone 48 hrs later to say the videographers etc will be showing up at HER HOME to create the next demo videos tomorrow is beyond ridiculous. If they had a problem with this patent all these years then they should have said something. Stephanie explained it as “I am wearing a pink scarf. Ellison says they have a patent on wearing pink scarves. Had they told me I can’t wear a pink scarf then I would have stopped wearing it. But I was making pink scarves for them.”

  33. Lorna April 19, 2019 at 7:10 pm #

    The Misti, in my opinion, was a new concept and although the newer ideas have improved the initial concept they are still basically the same. Maybe the Tim and SU should just have paid her a one off amount to use her idea as a basis for their products.
    This new Sizzix issue, in my opinion, is different, in that it is not a new idea but an improvement on an existing product. It would be like Ranger complaining because other companies have small ink cubes like theirs.

  34. Lorna April 19, 2019 at 10:07 pm #

    Does anyone know who makes the Simon Says Dies? I wouldn’t want to make SSS an enemy as who would sell Sizzix dies?

  35. Reen May 1, 2019 at 1:06 pm #

    I had a really good experience with Sizzix when my Vagabond broke. It was promptly replaced by Sizzix. I also really like the Tim Holtz stamps and dies, so I’m not going to declare an ultimatum of hate for the company. Like others have mentioned here, a patent needs to be respected; it is there to protect Intellectual Property. Any opinions I have about Sizzix and the other companies who may have infringed on the patent will be reserved until after the lawsuit has been settled. I’m not an attorney in patent law, so to me there is no sense in second-guessing the validity of the lawsuit.

  36. Susan Johnson May 1, 2019 at 5:05 pm #

    I have caught Stephanie Barnard’s live postings recently. She says her attorney will not let her comment on it at all. That is why she declined commenting here.

    • Nancy Nally May 1, 2019 at 7:30 pm #

      Yes, it’s pretty standard for attorneys to gag their clients in any litigation. But I still wanted to give everyone the opportunity to make a statement if they wished (which Hero Arts did).

      • Susan Johnson May 2, 2019 at 8:02 pm #

        I so appreciate your postings on this issue and giving the opportunity for people/companies to respond. Thank you! I had no idea what was going on at all, until I found this forum.

  37. Erin May 1, 2019 at 10:52 pm #

    I hate imagining that all the money I spent on products from all those companies will go to attorneys and not the development of fab new products. Sigh.

  38. Teresa May 2, 2019 at 7:06 pm #

    Really Ellison? really? Two years ago I purchased a product from Ellison. I only used it once.
    It was a piece of crap! Needless to say it went into the trash. I never sued or called nor emailed the company just thinking bad batch.You’re not the best Ellison! It only took me once to see that.
    Its such a shame that you’re trying to do this to so many wonderful people who are trying to make a HONEST living by doing what they love. I have friends that ordered over the pass years, but as of 2 weeks ago they no longer buy products from you. I truly hope you sleep well at night.

  39. Dawn May 3, 2019 at 11:05 am #

    SIZZIX, stop behaving like a spoilt child. I will never buy anymore stamps from you. I bought stamp and dies from your company because Stephanie had such good things to say about you.

    • Sandra May 4, 2019 at 2:54 pm #

      Me too! She was on their research and development team!

  40. Rijacki Ledum May 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

    Corporate decisions are months in the making. I suspect Stampin’ Up breaking ties with Sizzix is why Sizzix is on the rampage about the patent. They lost a massive customer to a competitor. That competitor will be supplying something they believe the have an exclusive patent on.

    • Nancy Nally May 5, 2019 at 1:54 am #

      Not the first time I’ve heard that theory floated as an explanation.

  41. Sandra May 4, 2019 at 2:52 pm #

    As mentioned in previous comments, I believe Ellison/sizzix are not meeting their numbers and decided to go after these companies and bloggers. If it wasn’t for bloggers how would we know how to use these products? It’s the same thing with makeup. Stephanie worked for Ellison/sizzix as their research and development team. How is she stealing this patent? She was teaching how to use products she designed with Ellison/Sizzix. My business with Ellison/sizzix has been terminated effectively. Unbelievable

    • Nancy Nally May 5, 2019 at 1:52 am #

      Stephanie is not being sued for her Sizzix-branded products. She’s being sued over products she sold under The Stamps of Life brand through her own website, which Ellison/Sizzix had nothing to do with creating/producing.

  42. Sandra May 4, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

    And who in the world is going to truly understand use these dies as mentioned on the documents in the article? It’s ridiculous.

  43. Anna May 27, 2019 at 9:42 am #

    What kills me is Sizzix hired most if not all of these companies to DESIGN for THEM! Stephanie was ordered to continue pushing and using the Sizzix brand even after they filed this suit. They actually had the audacity to call to schedule her next “Video blog” promoting the new designs she created for THEM after they filed the suit!!! TWO DAYS after she found out. The only way she even knew about it was when a lawyer called to ask if she had representation. She had to google her name to find it! This poor woman had to sell her home to pay for the lawyers! Uproot her family. Her daughter has to live with another family to continue to attend her school. I don’t know how Sizzix can do this knowing full well they paid Stephanie to create nested dies and stamp designs for them!!! I wont buy another Sizzix product ever again! However I did spend a good amount in Stamps of Life booth at Mega Meet this year!!! There are only about 50 companies who sell stamp/die combos and funny thing is Sizzix is only suing 5 companies. From what I have read on the Ellison corporate page this foreign company was sold a few years ago and this was when the patents were created ?? So basically they are biting the hand that feeds them. I hope Sizzix goes down in flames. There are plenty of other company’s out there we don’t need them.

  44. Veronica Roske August 26, 2019 at 5:42 pm #

    This is disappointing to crafter’s. I do not speak for everyone but it seems that these companies could all work together and stop being so greedy. I think many were disappointed with the pantent suit from Sweet Petunia and Tim Hotlz. I personally did not find the products similiar as Tim Holtz stamp platform is open which allows you to use full size cardstock. I also thought that Tim Holt’s products was made better and at a much better price. When he lost the patent in the U.S. only, I made sure I had two of his platforms. Now it sounds as if Ellison who works with Sizzix is suing other companies but not just other companies but designers for Sizzix. In the process, it sounds as if they may destroy there own name. Yet if Ellison was taken over by the U.K. I have found that some of the companies and some of the groups over there started claiming foul on copy right infringements and made big complaints over Crafter’s Companion when there were some problems with Crafter’s Companion’s desginer Shellia. They would not even let the company sort it out without making outragouse claims and slandering the company all over the media. It eventually all came down to one stamp that they could not negotiate on, yet they tried to destroy the reputation of the company who is well known in the U.K. You then have to decide which companies you want to continue to do business with. Most of us just want to do our crafts we do not want companies bickering over nesting dies which seem to be sold by every company in the market. It also seems companies claim patent on designs that should not be allowed in the first place. I personally think that not all products are made alike like the stamp platforms, they are nothing a like but sue for greed and market monopoly.

    • Nancy Nally September 24, 2019 at 7:15 pm #

      To clarify your point…Ellison doesn’t just work with Sizzix. They are Sizzix. The Sizzix name is just one of the brands that they sell products under.

  45. Liz gessner September 29, 2019 at 2:30 pm #

    I would love an update on this. I am patenting a craft tool and understand how the patent holders feel. It is a long process. I have been working on it for well over a year. I also understand crafters wanting everyone to get along, but businesses have to differentiate their products from others. I assume the c&9 turn about is copyrighted somehow. It really is a tightrope for the businesses. That said, to me it seems similar products and processes were being marketed prior to the Sizzix parent. Doesn’t that negate the patent somehow?

    • Nancy Nally September 29, 2019 at 10:12 pm #

      I published an update recently on the Ellison litigation in a news update at Craft Industry Alliance: Fall News Roundup

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