Welcome to all my friends who have followed me through all the drama associated with inventing and developing the Creative Designs method of cake decorating. As you know, I presented my method to Provo Craft and they pirated the idea, developed the Cricut Cake machine and gave me no credit. Other then a few minor changes, the Cricut Cake and the Expressions are the SAME machine.
If you would like to read the story you can read it below.
My name is Linda McClure and I am a cake decorator. I am always looking for new techniques to add to my cake designs. I invented/developed a new technique using an electronic paper cutting machine to cut gum paste designs and my cakes were soon looking amazing. I was able to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind designs with very little effort. I figured out how to modify a Cricut machine to cut gum paste. At first I figured that someone else must have already figured this out so I did a very thorough, intense search on the internet looking for information. I found nothing, not even a picture of a cake that was made using the Cricut. I spent a lot of time working on this method, and soon had my technique perfected.
I began getting inquiries from different cake decorators who saw my cakes on my web site. They asked how I achieved the stunning results with my cakes. It would be too difficult to explain in an email and a friend suggested I make a video teaching this new technique. This was the beginning of the “Creative Designs” series.
I went to an ICES meeting in April 2009 in Louisiana. One of the demonstrators was not able to come so I filled in for her at the last minute. I did a very informative demonstration about cake boards. I brought along a dummy cake decorated using the Cricut and said I would reveal the technique at the next meeting in July. This would give me time to finish the video and put together a demonstration with the Cricut. At the time I did not realize the importance of this demonstration. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time the Cricut was demonstrated in public cutting gum paste.
Early in 2009 we tried contacting Provo Craft (the company that made the Cricut) to tell them what we were doing. I thought they would be interested in this new technique and I had several ideas to market this concept to cake decorators. We called and emailed them. but never got any response. There are several other companies who make a similar machine, so I thought we might try to work with one of them. I spoke with an attorney about the video and asked if it would be a problem using the Cricut in the video. He said it was a tool, just like a screw driver and I was showing how to use a tool. He recommended that we patent the process. When I found out it would cost me at least $10,000, I decided that it was something that I would not be able to afford to do.
My next problem was how to market the DVDs. I needed to reach the cake decorating world. My son, Justin, was home from college for the summer and decided to market the DVDs for me. He went on several cake forums telling people about this cutting edge cake decorating technique and soon we were selling several DVDs everyday. We also started selling them in other countries. I got a call from a guy in Australia and he told me they used a system called Click and Cut. My technique worked perfectly and he was going to be teaching the people there how to use it.
The one cake forum that talked a lot about this was Cake Central. He went on as grandmacupcake09 and answered peoples questions. I guess he said something wrong and was barred from the web site. He told me that he had put a link to my web site so people would know where to go for more information. It wasn’t long before those who bought my DVD were freely sharing the information with everyone else. That was the end of grandmacupcake.
In July of 2009 I presented this new technique to the Louisiana ICES. I know that many of the members present realized that this was going to change the way we decorate cakes in the future.
I taught Becky and Martha (Sweet Southern Ladies) this technique and they were able to use it in their Ultimate Cake Challenge. I also taught Jennifer Atwood (from Atwood’s Bakery) and she used the technique in her Ultimate Cake Challenge. I even taught Carrie Biggers (Carries Cakes) and she was on the team with Norm Davis and used this method for their Ultimate Cake Challenge.
In late July McKay Brown from Provo Craft emailed me to tell me he had heard about what I was doing from someone at a craft show. He thought my cakes were amazing and ordered a DVD from me. I told him I would be interested in presenting this concept to Provo Craft, but did not get a response back. I did send him the DVD.
My attorney was able to contact some of the people in the marketing department and talk to them. They looked at my web site and saw what I was doing. I had also put a short video of some of the cake I had made using the Cricut. He arranged a conference call with the Provo Craft people, and I told them that if they noticed an increase in sells of the Cricut, it was because of me. They were very interested in what I had to say. I finally got their attention. I told them that my method was going to change the way we decorated cakes. They were very anxious to meet with me, and I scheduled a time that my attorney, husband and I could go to Provo. We asked for a non compete, non discloser agreement to be signed before I showed them everything I had developed. They agreed, so we went to Provo at the end of Oct 2009.
When we got there my attorney asked to meet with their legal guys to sign the non discloser agreement we had agreed on. He was told that we would sign the agreements in the afternoon. I am not sure if they did not have the agreements ready, but my attorney came with one ready to sign. We trusted the company to act ethically and believed we would sign the non compete/non discloser agreement that afternoon. So far, I had no reason to not trust Provo Craft.
I brought everything with me and gave a very impressive demonstration, showing everything I had come up with. The people at Provo Craft were amazed, and had no idea that their machine could be used for cake decorating. There were at least 50 people in the room and everything I did was filmed and photographed. After lunch, I met with the product development people and told them everything about the modifications needed for the machine and gave suggestions for a few improvements. I explained about making the markers food safe and told them that new designs would be needed for cake decorators. I let them know that this was something I was to be a part of. If they did not want to work with me to develop a new product, then I could take my ideas somewhere else. My attorney tried his best to get their attorneys to sign the agreements. For some reason, Provo Craft’s attorneys were not to be found. After I gave them all the information I had, we were basically dismissed. We still had faith they would do the right thing, and I even got an email the next day from Jon Lee telling me it was a bit hit.
We headed back home and I started to get a little nervous about what had transpired. I paid my attorney a lot of money to come with us, to protect my interests. I trusted Provo Craft to do the right thing, but they proved to be untrustworthy. My attorney told me to have faith that things would work out. He did try to call and email them, but did not get any response to his inquiries.
After a few weeks of no response from Provo Craft I decided we would need to protect my invention with a patent. I contacted a patent attorney and showed her what I had developed. She was very positive about this being approved by the patent office, so I told we would go ahead with the patent. We are patent pending on the entire process. It will be awhile before we know the final out come.
Finally, I got a message from Provo Craft that they have come out with a new cricut Cake machine! They also have a new cake cartridge and sent me a sample of the designs to see. I was asked if I would come to Utah to film a short video about the new machine. I agreed to go. I wanted to see what they had come up with, and was still hoping they would do the right thing by me. We filmed at Carrie Biggers shop and it was a very interesting experience. Still no contract or mention of working with me. I am not given credit in the video for coming up with this idea. I still believed Provo Craft would do something to include me in the process. They are a scrapbook company and don’t know anything about cake decorating. They don’t understand the products we use or the designs we need.
A few weeks after the video was filmed I was asked if I would go to California to the CHA show 2010 for the big launch of the Cricut Cake. They would pay my expenses and pay me for my time. I decided that I would go and see for my self what was going on. I was to be demonstrating the new Cricut Cake machine, so I came prepared to do several demos. Their spokesperson began the introduction telling the people present that I had come to Provo Craft and asked them to make a machine that would cut gum paste! I know she was told what to say, but it was all I could do to tell the people at the demos that was not true. There were poster size pictures of my cakes all over the walls, taken from my web site without permission. That was fine to show my cakes, but not one word giving me credit for the work.
The evening of the 3rd day was a launch party. Jeff and I attended and there was a lot of people at the party. The video was shown and you can see the entire thing on youtube. The CEO of the company spoke and not once did he say anything about my contribution. If it were not for me Provo Craft would not have a new product to launch. It was my idea and it was obvious to me that they had no intension of ever giving me credit. I am personally responsible for the sale of hundreds of Cricut machines and now a new product line.
I decided that evening that I was done. They had flown in another cake decorator, so she could handle the rest of the demonstrations.
I spoke with Jon Lee and told him of my concerns. I had received a contract from Provo Crafty earlier in the week and told him I would not sign it. Basically, they wanted me to sign over all my rights to everything I had done including all my copy righted materials . They offered me $10,000 with a one year contract. They would pay me $1,000 a month to be their cake ambassador and travel to cake shows promoting the Cricut Cake. I offered a more reasonable contract, but they were not interested. I have a shop and can’t afford to give all my time to Provo Craft for so little compensation.
Provo Craft only has a machine to offer. I offer the method that can be used with several machines. There are a lot of people who are decorating cakes with this new method because of me. Several people are making a lot of money teaching classes because of me, and I personally taught many of them. I have come up with even more ideas we can use in the cake world. The latest is printing on gum paste.
The bottom line is this:
1) We presented this cake decorating technique to Provo Craft
2) We were promised a non compete, non discloser agreement
3) They did not give us the agreement we asked for
4) They took my ideas, and did not give me one penny for my invention
There's more at my old blog if you really want to read all the drama surrounding this.