Davison Design & Development
Davison Design & Development, formerly Davison & Associates and often referred to as simply Davison is an invention promotion firm. The company is based in Pittsburgh and was founded in 1989 by George McConnell Davison. Davison’s workplace, Inventionland, has been likened to The Willy Wonka Candy Company and is noted for its 16 life-sized themed sets, including a motor speedway, sewing cottage, cupcake, log cabin and others. The company is the subject of a reality television show on the History Channel called Inventionland.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has described Davison as a typical invention promotion scam. In 2006, following a complaint filed by the FTC, a court ordered Davison to pay $26 million in consumer redress for misrepresenting its services to inventors. The court set a list of restrictions on Davison's activity, prohibiting Davison from presenting new product development services to inventors unless they clearly state that these services will most probably not lead to a profitable or marketable product. Davison ultimately reached a $10.7 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2008, but the guidelines and restrictions set on Davison in the original 2006 court ruling were maintained.
Davison provides new product development services to inventors, corporations and entrepreneurs using a nine-step process intended to bring new products and inventions to market. Davison services include research, industrial design, virtual reality, video, animation, product prototypes, packaging, presentation to manufacturers and royalty management. Their annual revenue is about $25 million.
Davison does not provide any evaluation of the commercial potential of a product or invention. As of 2 July 2015, only 16 people have earned royalties greater than Davison's fees out of 62,000 who purchased product development services in the preceding 5 years. Their fees range from $800 for a patent search to $10,000 or more to build a prototype. The percentage of Davison's income that comes from royalties on products is 0.001% or about $250.
Davison-designed products include the Hover Creeper, Meatball Baker, Bread It breading stations, the BikeBoard, Pugz Shoes and the HydroBone for dogs and the 360° Wrist Therapy Brace. Davison says that it produces approximately 200 prototypes per month, and its products have been sold in 1,000 retail stores and online venues. The firm has received several International Design Excellence Awards from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), formerly sponsored by I.D. Magazine and BusinessWeek, now sponsored by the Annual Design Review online only via F+W Media. For example, the firm received an honorable mention in I.D. Magazine's 2007 design review competition.
The company was founded in 1989 by George M. Davison. He has expressed a preference for patenting ideas only after a product that uses them is ready for manufacturing.
Inventionland is a 61,000-square-foot (5,700 m2) design facility that houses 16 themed sets, including a pirate ship, tree house and giant robot. Within Inventionland, which opened in 2006, Davison’s creative teams work to develop new consumer products and inventions. Types of goods include automotive, holiday, kitchenwares, children's and babies' products, pet products, consumer electronics (audio and video), hunting, fishing and sporting goods and others.
- Creative Rooms in Business (CRIB) Award, 2011: Inventionland was the recipient of this regional design award, given as one of the Pittsburgh Design, Art and Technology (DATA) annual awards and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. The CRIB Award "celebrates creative work environments incorporating nontraditional design, unique methods of company community, artwork or space that encourages creativity."
- Steel Heart Award, 2006: "for replacing employee cubicles…with a tree house."
- Industrial design excellence award (IDEA) Silver Award for Design Strategy, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), 2006: The Hover Creeper.
- IDEA Bronze Award for Medical and Scientific Products, IDSA, 2006: The BikeBoard Product Line
- IDEA Bronze Award, IDSA, 1996: Oil Filter Gripper
Misrepresentation of services
In 1997, Davison was one of eleven companies named in a Federal Trade Commission consumer protection operation called "Project Mousetrap" - for protecting inventors against invention promotion scams. In 2006, Davison were ordered to pay $26 million in consumer redress for misrepresenting its services to inventors and the FTC said Davison were typical of invention promotion scams.
Davison appealed, and ultimately settled with the FTC in 2008, agreeing to pay $10.7 million in cash, real estate and investment assets. In keeping with the requirements of the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, the judge set out the details of an "affirmative disclosure statement" to be issued to future clients. Such disclosure statement must specify, among other things, the number of consumers in the last five years who have made more income in royalties or sales proceeds than they paid the company. As of 2 July 2015, the statement says that 16 people have earned royalties greater than Davison's fees out of 62,000 who signed a pre-development agreement or similar contract.
Lawsuit alleging unpaid overtime
In July 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor filed a federal lawsuit saying that Davison failed to pay overtime to at least 214 current and former sales representatives, arguing that Davison's business means they are covered by federal wage laws requiring them to do so. The lawsuit calls for Davison to start paying overtime and to pay employees' unpaid back wages.
- Pennsylvania Department of State
- "Dave & Dave Explore Inventionland", On Q, WQED-TV July 17, 2007
- Court halts bogus Invention Promotion claims on the USPTO (US patent office) website, the head of the FTC consumer protection department stated: "This outfit is typical of invention promotion scams"
- Davison vs. FTC ruling from 2006 with a $10.7 million settlement and restrictions reinstated.
- "Creative Profits" American Executive, July 2010
- "Workplace wonderment," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review October 7, 2007
- Michael Braga “'Inventionland' entrepreneur buys on Manasota Key”, Herald Tribune, 13 February 2015
- Kerry Dolan, “Inside InventionLand” Forbes 10 November 2006
- Affirmative Disclosure Statement
- The CBS Early Show "Inventionland turns dreams into reality" August 22, 2011
- Annual Design Review
- "People On the Move".
- "Davison Inventing Method", The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television July 30, 2010
- Tugman, Lindsey (22 August 2011). "Inventionland: Where your ideas come to life". Today's THV. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
- "Dave & Dave Explore Inventionland," On Q, WQED-TV July 17, 2007
- http://www.pghtech.org/events/art-and-technology/call.aspx "Who's Who of the 2011 Design, Art & Technology (DATA) Awards", Pittsburgh Technology Council
- http://www.pittsburghwillsteelyourheart.com/steelheartaward12-06.htm "Pittsburgh Will Steel Your Heart", monthly awards sponsored by the KEYGroup.
- http://www.idsa.org/content/content1/hover-creeper The Hover Creeper
- http://www.idsa.org/content/content1/bikeboard-product-line The BikeBoard Product Line
- Annual Design Awards: '96 Industrial Design Excellence Awards, BusinessWeek, June 2, 1996
- FTC: FTC/State "Project Mousetrap" Snares Invention Promotion Industry Press Release, July 23, 1997
- "Inside InventionLand", Forbes November, 2006
- Court Halts Bogus Invention Promotion Claims
- Pittsburgh Tribune
- Invention Promotion Firm, Federal Trade Commission, retrieved 2013-08-30
- "Invention Promoters Will Pay $10 Million to Settle FTC Charges" FTC press release
- Labor Dept. rules O'Hara invention firm must pay overtime, Pittsburgh Tribune Review August 1, 2013