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Walmart Holds Invention Contest 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the dropping-the-price-on-inspiration dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Walmart is holding the inventor's equivalent to 'American Idol' calling for product submissions that will be offered for sale in Walmart stores. Feel that the back scratcher you received a patent for hasn't garnered the attention it deserves? This could be your big chance at fame and fortune."
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Walmart Holds Invention Contest

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  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gciochina (1655025) on Friday January 20, 2012 @06:46AM (#38759354)
    I'll be able to show my all in one toilet!!! http://i.imgur.com/fdJDV.jpg [imgur.com] See you there! :D
  • A lobotomy and shopping spree at...you guessed it!!! Walmart.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday January 20, 2012 @07:05AM (#38759428) Journal

      Yep, and given that it is WalMart, the winning entry will be...

      A coffee table shaped like a car from nascar, which only holds the cheapest, nastiest bears (destroying all others) and has a built in remote that automatically switches the TV to nascar or wrestling and maxes the volume.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @07:36AM (#38759576)

        Yep, and given that it is WalMart, the winning entry will be...

        A coffee table shaped like a car from nascar, which only holds the cheapest, nastiest bears (destroying all others) and has a built in remote that automatically switches the TV to nascar or wrestling and maxes the volume.

        Hey, a bear destroying coffee table would be awesome. I'd put it in the middle of the bear pit at the local zoo. I'm not too sure what I should imagine when you talk about the "cheapest" nastiest bears. I didn't really know nasty bears came in cheap and expensive variations. Do the more expensive ones not hibernate or something? Maybe it's longer claws.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Ghaaa. I am the typo king. I meant "beer"

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Ghaaa. I am the typo king.

            That's what you get for eating Klingon food!

            But actually, considering we're talking about rednecks, "Hay, thar, darlin, get me a bear" is no typo. Maybe you should have another serving of Ghaaa? (actually I think Ghaaa isn't spelled quite like that).

            I got a humorus birthday card last year, a redneck translator. One was Rat -- example: "It's rat past the bait shop!"

            Jim Morrison: "I am the typo king. I can misspell anything!"

        • Or (if I didn't want to be torn limb to limb, the black ghetto bear? Meanwhile the asian honey bear is taking all the jobs and education out of the US of A...

          Some say the best defence against the cheapest nastiest bears is a desert eagle. I don't see it, you are being charged by trailer trash bears, how is having a large angry bird on your arm going to help? Now some kind of big hand gun. That would be useful. Although how you load a gun with bear(s you) shot without first shooting some bears I just don't g

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Hey, a bear destroying coffee table would be awesome.

          Yeah, but does Colbert even shop at Walmart?

        • by sgt scrub (869860)

          I think you have to be Canadian to know what a cheap and nasty bear is. Be sure to avoid the pimp.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        * beers, not bears.

        • You have to admit, bears was funnier.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Well, now, look, y'all city slickers, don't yew know how ta talk? I went ta that thar s'loon and drank six o' them bears next ta the winder, an' almos' got a buzz!

            Um, where are all those young people who want to change written language so words are spelled like they sound to defend this poor guy's typo?

      • to be honest, a coffee table that destroys bears would be pretty awesome!

      • by macraig (621737)

        I bought one of those last month. Looks great in my basement cave at my mom's house.

      • by forkfail (228161)

        I'm betting on a wireless taser system for zapping their wage slaves remotely, with a motion sensor that detects when they're not moving for more than a few minutes, a microphone for listening in and a camera.

        The whole thing will be fashioned to look like a big smiley face button.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Problem is, it's not the executives or management, but those same wage slaves, that tend to shop there.

          • by forkfail (228161)

            It's the company script model, scaled up.

            Keep 'em poor so they need the Walmart prices to be able to buy stuff, so they buy en masse at Walmart... it's a vicious circle.

            Note that I've nothing against leveraging the economy of scale. I do have a problem with a corporation that treats it's employees like pondscum and that acts as a pipeline of US wealth to China. In this day and age of too many people and not enough resources, it may be that we need to have the efficiency of the mega-box stores. But the av

      • by dbialac (320955)

        And the prize will be a shit job with poor benefits. Look around at what Walmart does for people and you'll realize the only way to win this contest is not to enter in the first place.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Yep, and given that it is WalMart, the winning entry will be...

        A coffee table shaped like a car from nascar, which only holds the cheapest, nastiest bears (destroying all others) and has a built in remote that automatically switches the TV to nascar or wrestling and maxes the volume.

        The coffee table should be able to fold out into a wrestling ring. You then can use the included luchador masks to have your toddler elbow drop your chihuahua/rotteweiler/pitbull mutt. Fun for the whole family!

      • And is built in China!

  • Fine Print... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saccade.com (771661) on Friday January 20, 2012 @07:13AM (#38759458) Homepage Journal
    Be very careful to read the fine print on contests like this. I looked into one a few years ago (run by Hammacher Schlemmer, I think), and by entering you essentially wound up giving them your IP at pretty unfavorable terms. If you have a good idea, something like KickStarter [kickstarter.com] is a much better bet.
    • Re:Fine Print... (Score:4, Informative)

      by furytrader (1512517) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:04AM (#38759708)
      In looking over the terms of the contest, they are offering what they say they are offering: the chance to SELL your product on Wal-Mart's shelves, which is essentially access to one of the largest retail distribution systems in the world. They are not offering to manufacture your product, they are not offering to market your product, they are offering to put in on their shelves. That's what you're winning ... which is precisely what they said the contest is about. If you went ahead and read the rules of the contest, you'd see that. But because it's Wal-Mart, let's all just bury our heads in the sand and assume the worst, right?
      • The issue with a product idea (I have one) is getting production, distribution, and sales all lined up without having it stolen and while still getting a decent amount of money - each of those 3 entities is going to want a cut. I thought Walmart was always open to people pitching stuff, so it's really the production (who has ties to china?) that's a problem. And I do mean China, you're not going to have a Walmart price point unless you can get it made at very low cost. So is Walmart going to put you in touc
        • The issue with a product idea (I have one)

          A product idea, or an issue with a product idea? Unless you've got a lot of backing to get you through the production and sales gauntlets, you'd make more money per hour reciting "you want fries with that?" through a greasy microphone for the next 10 years, than attempting to push even the best of product ideas out to market over the same time frame.

      • Re:Fine Print... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:28AM (#38759826)

        Wal-Mart is a historically very dangerous partner, especially for small companies. Their high volume and low pricing come at the cost of any slack for their partners, who wind up on a treadmill of lowering per unit costs, and wind up "making up in volume what they lose on every sale". I've seen several smaller companies with products sold there start out very excited, but go very bankrupt within 5 years because they can't keep the prices down low enough to match Wal-Mart's demands without firing the staff who came up with the product.

        It's a very dangerous tiger to grab the tail of for a small business, especially a small patent holder. If the patent will help pad your resume, I could see it, but don't rely on Wal-Mart to help you make money with it.

        • Re:Fine Print... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by WillAdams (45638) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:51AM (#38759932) Homepage

          Yep. Everyone should read:

          http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html [fastcompany.com]

          Or look up the history of what happened to the Etch-a-Sketch:

          http://www.peoplesworld.org/etch-a-sketch-and-the-wal-mart-phenomenon/ [peoplesworld.org]

          William

          • by Toonol (1057698)
            Nobody should ever read anything printed in Fast Company. It's the worst magazine ever published. It lowers reader's IQ faster than Cosmopolitan.
          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Yep. Everyone should read:

            http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html [fastcompany.com]

            Or look up the history of what happened to the Etch-a-Sketch:

            http://www.peoplesworld.org/etch-a-sketch-and-the-wal-mart-phenomenon/ [peoplesworld.org]

            William

            You missed nearly bankrupting Vlassic as well

            http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html [fastcompany.com]

            The TL;DR version of all these articles is basically that Walmart demands suppliers hit a price point ("We'll pay you $x for each one"). Great if you can hit it, but if you can't, you have to do

            • Re:Fine Print... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by dgatwood (11270) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:58PM (#38764192) Journal

              You do have the right to refuse such deals, you know. You can always tell Wal-Mart, "Sorry. We can't hit that price point without compromising quality, and we won't do that."

              Wal-Mart might decide to drop your product, or they might not. If they don't, you've won. If they do, you can tell the world (on your website) that your products are no longer sold at Wal-Mart because they tried to force you to compromise on quality, and you said, "No". Then provide a list of alternative retailers that do carry your product. By so doing, you turn lost sales into increased customer loyalty.

              Wal-Mart only screws businesses who are so desperate for Wal-Mart to carry their products that they will compromise their integrity just to stay on their shelves. If you ask me, the fault lies equally with both parties. Just saying.

          • by operagost (62405)
            And no one sees the connection between the obstruction caused by union bosses in conspiracy with local law enforcement and the eventual closing of the Ohio Art factory? Who wants to do business in the US when the police keep a company from doing business because its workers are on strike? We call the workers crossing the line "scabs" when they're blue-collar folks like the rest-- they just aren't in that mob called the union. The modern union isn't pro-worker, it's pro-union.
        • Wal-Mart is a historically very dangerous partner, especially for small companies. Their high volume and low pricing come at the cost of any slack for their partners, who wind up on a treadmill of lowering per unit costs, and wind up "making up in volume what they lose on every sale". I've seen several smaller companies with products sold there start out very excited, but go very bankrupt within 5 years because they can't keep the prices down low enough to match Wal-Mart's demands without firing the staff who came up with the product.

          It's a very dangerous tiger to grab the tail of for a small business, especially a small patent holder. If the patent will help pad your resume, I could see it, but don't rely on Wal-Mart to help you make money with it.

          Or, just take this for what it is, a fun come-on that might feel like a lottery win for some schmo with a better beer holder who wouldn't otherwise be able to do anything with his idea. If you've got a valid going concern of a business, this contest is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you're a typical WalMart shopper, this could be very much like American Idol for otherwise hopeless inventors.

      • the chance to SELL your product on Wal-Mart's shelves

        Incase anybody doesn't know: this ^^^ can be worth more than your weight in pure Platinum.

        I was sort-of nearby when BreatheRight [breatheright.com] did their launch. More important than NFL players wearing them on camera was the shelf space in the drug stores, they didn't say what all it took to get that shelf space, but it was implied that there were blood sacrifices...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As conditions of Contest entry, you acknowledge and agree that: (a) Sponsor and other participants and members of the general public have access to and/or may create materials, ideas and concepts which may be similar or identical to your Entry, ideas and/or concepts; (b) you will not be entitled to any compensation or other consideration because of the use by Sponsor or any other participant of such similar or identical material, ideas and/or concepts; and (c) Sponsor's or other participant's use of materia

      • In other news, "If you sell your soul to the devil, the devil gets your soul".
      • you warrant and represent that ... your Entry does not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity

        Oh... so that's it. I knew there must be some catch. They don't want to actually own your entry, because when someone comes a-suing they'll just point him in your general direction and say "his invention, we're just selling it".

        • Actually they want to make sure that there aren't any encumbrances on the concept/idea that you signed over to them. This way they are free to use any part of your idea without fear of legal liability from a third party. If it's found that there is a third party claim to your idea, then I'm sure this phrasing allows Walmart and their sponsors to seek compensation for any legal fees.

          IANAL but if you are thinking of entering this contest you may want to get you one.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Friday January 20, 2012 @07:20AM (#38759486) Homepage

    While it might sound altruistic, it isn't.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Nothing with WalMart *ever* looks altruistic. They are all about finding every way to shovel cost on to other people. I'd hate to see what would happen when they run out too much competition on a large scale instead of just locally - I suspect their prices will go through the roof.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by furytrader (1512517)
      Yes, because everyone assumes that Wal-Mart is a charity, right? Clearly, this is a way to generate interest in order to get people to come into their stores. Just like American Idol is about generating interest in a musician to get people to buy their music. Oh, the horror!
  • ...to Microsoft or Oracle than my invention to Wallmart. There, I've said it.
  • Cheaper than cheap (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:22AM (#38759798)

    So essentially, they buy the stuff they sell from China because it's super-cheap, and now they're trying to get people to give them product ideas because designers and engineers are too expensive, to save on the cost of product development.

    No way I'm giving the cheap bastards any of my brainpower so they can make even more profit.

    (Mind you, that's exactly what Google does too...)

    • So essentially, they buy the stuff they sell from China because it's super-cheap, and now they're trying to get people to give them product ideas because designers and engineers are too expensive, to save on the cost of product development.

      No way I'm giving the cheap bastards any of my brainpower so they can make even more profit.

      (Mind you, that's exactly what Google does too...)

      You left out one step ... Profit

      You've got Wal-Mart's business model in a nutshell - push as much of the cost onto the supple as possible - and run a logistic system that is ruthlessly efficient. Wal-Mart is a logistics company that happens to have stores at one end of the chain.

    • Google does not outsource that much of development. Most of it is made in US and Europe. Lower importance projects and support are India or so but not core projects...
  • by decora (1710862) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:42AM (#38759878) Journal

    i propose to design a machine that when pointed at an object in a retail environment, will search a database and present to the user an interactive presentation about all the points on the supply chain that led to the object's existence on that retail shelf.

    for example, the overnight wal-mart stockers with no health insurance, the long haul truckers who are continually pushed by managers to drive further with less sleep, the docks where TSA irradiates everything, the chinese factory where the manager rapes the workers on a regular basis, the government run prison mines that provide input to the factory, etc etc etc.

    • For such a system to work, you'd first need to have the database that links UPCs of retail items to the detailed information about its manufacture.

      Good thing there's nothing to stop you from patenting a non-working idea though!
      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        Half-way there already. We know the conditions at Wal-Mart, so auto-fill those for every item on the shelf there. Then you just need information on the foreign suppliers, since you can assume the domestic ones are minimum wage, no health insurance. And many of those foreign stories are already out there. Since there is a manufacturer code in the UPC, you only need to fill information for a small subset of items, and carry over the info to the items with the same mfr code.

        http://www.upcdatabase.com/ [upcdatabase.com]

        It's

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So glad Walmart Canada is the absolute opposite:

      - overnight wal-mart stockers with no health insurance

      When Walmart came to Canada they specifically advertised their health benefits to attract workers.

      - the long haul truckers who are continually pushed by managers to drive further with less sleep

      Illegal. If Walmart did this they would be put out of business immediately. And I mean it. Hell, truckers here can't even SMOKE in their trucks anymore.

      - the docks where TSA irradiates ever

      • by iteyoidar (972700)
        To answer all of your questions, it's because US labor laws are fucked
      • by operagost (62405)

        Hell, truckers here can't even SMOKE in their trucks anymore.

        Canadians are twisted in that they see this as a good thing. Freedom is slavery. And Wal-Mart employment isn't, since you don't have to work there. Please don't try to diminish the meaning of actual slavery with this kind of hyperbole.

        Walmart USA uses techniques banned by the Geneva convention?

        Is Wal-Mart a war zone? Please don't post again, you ignoramus.

    • I'd rather just have a smart-phone app that images shelf-tags, uploads them to a database, and simultaneously checks that database to tell me if the store I'm standing in is screwing me on the price of the item I'm about to pick up. If a competitor on (or near) my regular travel routes (also automatically learned by the app) has the exact same (or equivalent) item for a significantly better price, the app beeps and informs me of it, otherwise it just silently collects data and shares it with other users of

    • by operagost (62405)
      ... the slashdotters complaining on the internet instead of starting their own business with ethical practices.
  • A guy I knew in my hometown made game calls. He employed a few people and made what are the Cadillac of game calls. His game calls were featured on a show on the outdoor network and the next thing you know Wal Mart came calling. He had to hire 20 people to handle the demand. Next year Wal Mart comes to him and says "We need these 5 cents cheaper than what you sold them to us for last year". He lowered his price but ultimately what happened was he ended up lowering his prices so much year after year that he couldn't afford to keep people employed in rural Kentucky so he outsourced to Malaysia. His entire production plant in Kentucky went of business. Low prices have a consequence and so does innovation if you do it with Wal Mart
    • Sad story for the rural Kentucky factory workers, I'd bet the guy did alright in the deal, though - probably alright enough that he could give his ex-factory workers a couple hundred bucks a month each, if he wanted to.

  • The small print (Score:4, Informative)

    by abarrow (117740) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:55AM (#38760328) Homepage

    "Each demonstration should begin with the phrase "Stand back if you know what's good for ya" or "Hold my beer and watch this!""

  • What about an augmented reality device to turn all that $99.99 prices into $100.00 and so on?
  • I miss billy mays he did this for people without the evil walmart.

    Hay walmart hear a idea drop this give your workers real health care.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      Here's the benefits page (you can go to Walmart.com and click on Careers, store, and Benefits)

      http://walmartstores.com/Careers/7750.aspx [walmartstores.com]

      It's a lot better than I expected. And Billy Mays was a spokesperson for a large business which has incredible markups and added shipping fees, so you can cut out the middleman and give twice the profit to a different company.

  • Starting Thursday, anyone can enter "Get on the Shelf" for the chance to get their product sold by Walmart.... http://www.dbune.com/news/business/10133-walmart-launches-american-idol-like-contest-for-new-products.html [dbune.com]
  • where will it be produced at? If China, then it does not help out.
  • an invention to stop the monstrosity that is Wal-mart - duping people into thinking they're saving money, but instead buying cheap, disposable, foreign products or products altered to a sub-standard grade to meet Wal-mart's price point.

    I give my ideas to Wal-mart for a one-time prize and they rake in money year after year on its sale? Go blow that smoke up your consumers' collective butts.

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone

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