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Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters! 2369

No Life Club Posts: 4,740 Captain's Apprentice
Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« on: February 01, 2018, 11:51:11 PM »
It seems the LM Marketing team has been digging up some old paperwork to advertise the New PST.

Shared these on Facebook earlier today, I think we can all agree Gerber is regretting that letter every day now!

They shared a ton of old drawings, I think most were shared awhile ago by J-Sews but I can repost them if needed. (Photobucket broken links)
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,758

Nix us

********* * *
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2018, 12:24:48 AM »
When opportunity knocks, answer the Smurfin' door.

heterodox, not in the box
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,284
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2018, 12:25:28 AM »
In your face, Flanders!

Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 5,003
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2018, 12:43:42 AM »
And I'm sure by the early nineties, every single one of them was kicking themselves for turning his proposition down. Most had their own designs (minus that odd thing Case had, and the fact that Stanley Proto's multitool is simply a rebranded Kutmaster Multimaster) by the end of the millennium, but Gerber's is the only one still being made.  It makes me wonder what would have happened if one of the major cutlers had picked up Tim's design, how the Multitool Wars of the 1990s would have gone down.
Global Moderator Just Bananas Posts: 67,835
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2018, 01:15:49 AM »
Wow :o Tim sure head his work cut out for himself and I am glad that he didn't let all these companies discourage him :ahhh :D

Thanks for putting these up NK :like: :like:
No Life Club Posts: 1,606
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2018, 01:50:31 AM »
Fun ones in retrospect :)

It is to be expected. For most new stuff there are more no than yes to heard. I'm sure all those that said no to Google and Apple have had their regrets too.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 01:58:47 AM by Vidar »

"Simple is hard"
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,109 Bored

dks cy

********* *
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2018, 07:52:57 AM »
.maybe i need to get some bitcoins and a Tesla really quickly....

Kelly: "Daddy, what makes men cheat on women?
Al : "Women!"

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No Life Club Posts: 2,555
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2018, 08:02:48 AM »
Those are wonderful posts from Leatherman. Really really neat to see this from almost 40 years ago!!

 :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu:

multi-tools—folding contraptions fixed with all kinds of doo-dads
Thread Killer 2017 Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,734 Born to multitask.
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2018, 08:03:21 AM »
I had never seen these!  :rofl:

-Hey, remember that guy with his design we said 'no' to?
-Yeah, what about it?
-He released it and it's selling like hot cakes.
-Oops.
No Life Club Posts: 2,555
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2018, 08:07:22 AM »
I had never seen these!  :rofl:

-Hey, remember that guy with his design we said 'no' to?
-Yeah, what about it?
-He released it and it's selling like hot cakes.
-Oops.
Yeah some of the letters really disregarded him. Did Stanley pretty much say the idea isn't a "Winner"?! Lol

multi-tools—folding contraptions fixed with all kinds of doo-dads
Thread Killer 2017 Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,734 Born to multitask.
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2018, 08:10:43 AM »
I don't suppose there's a letter from Victorinox?  ::)
Thread Killer 2017 Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,734 Born to multitask.
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2018, 08:16:58 AM »
Can someone translate those scribbles Gerber wrote?  Some "words" are just random lines you do when testing if a pen can write. :facepalm:
Reading it again, I think I got most of it.

Received from Tim Leatherman
one prototype "Dutch army knife"
to be used in brief marketing
        knife (tool)
survey (?) ^ Will be returned by Friday
March 16, 1979

 Jim Raske
Gerber Legendary Blades
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 08:23:06 AM by ReamerPunch »

Global Moderator Point Of No Return Posts: 36,861
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2018, 08:24:14 AM »
Sounds bout right.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 08:25:28 AM by zoidberg »
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 14,599 Firm believer of Sturgeon's Law
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2018, 01:59:59 PM »
thanks for posting.
 :tu:
it was a fun and thought provoking read  :salute:

My toys:

MTs: Surge (2x), Skeletool CX, Rebar, Blast, Fuse, Micra, Squirt (3x), Wave, Crunch, Mini, Spirit (2x), Pro Scout, MP700 (2x), Diesel, Powerlock, PowerPlier (2x), PocketPowerPlier, Blacktip , ST6 (2x), 5WR, A100

SAKs: Bantam, Executive, Ambassador, Minichamp, Classic Alox, Champion, Farmer, Explorer, Swisschamp, Golf Tool, Wenger Champ, EVO 52, Pocket Tool Chest
Sr. Member Posts: 390 VICTORINOX
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2018, 02:48:23 PM »
Amazing stories, good that they keep all the paper work in good conditions!
Love my Rebar and Supertool but if they keep rising prices every year, will stick with my Spirit...

Enjoy!
Hero Member Posts: 572
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2018, 05:13:44 PM »
Really cool thread to see these letters.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 05:15:29 PM by gregpost »
Global Moderator Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 25,691
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2018, 05:21:01 PM »
Patient perseverance.  Way to go Tim and thank you for not giving up. 

Esse Quam Videri
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,109 Bored

dks cy

********* *
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2018, 05:45:48 PM »
Not so long ago LM (I think) rejected one of our most talented members - Tim did not learn from his experience

Kelly: "Daddy, what makes men cheat on women?
Al : "Women!"

[ Knife threads ]  [ Country shopping guides ]  [ Battery-Charger-Light threads ]  [ Picture threads ]
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 15,122 Yoo-hoo, big summer blowout!
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2018, 05:58:28 PM »
Not so long ago LM (I think) rejected one of our most talented members - Tim did not learn from his experience
Syph?

Hooked, like everyone else. ;)

All hail the hook!
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,109 Bored

dks cy

********* *
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2018, 06:01:20 PM »
 :pok:  Use the search function





 :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Kelly: "Daddy, what makes men cheat on women?
Al : "Women!"

[ Knife threads ]  [ Country shopping guides ]  [ Battery-Charger-Light threads ]  [ Picture threads ]
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 15,122 Yoo-hoo, big summer blowout!
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2018, 06:07:22 PM »
 :whistle:

Hooked, like everyone else. ;)

All hail the hook!
Multitool Enthusiast Admin Team No Life Club Posts: 2,789 Staff Writer
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2018, 08:14:10 PM »
I am still amazed that everyone blew him off and didn't see the potential in the tool. Now they all chase his company, trying to outdo the original.

When I was young I had some mighty fine ideas, none of which I patented and now they exist in real life. Hindsight is 20/20 or so they say.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

No Life Club Posts: 1,606
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2018, 08:33:32 PM »
The rejection letters only show the Leatherman side of the story though. There is also the companies side which includes all the other people with other designs that also contacted them but later failed. I'm sure they have lots of amazing letters too :)

Typically a very small percentage actually succeed, so if they just rejected everyone they would likely be right 98% of the time.. In hindsight it is easy to see the winners, but there and then they might have had many proposals that looked somewhat similar to them from a risk reward viewpoint.

No doubt the not-invented-here syndrome was also a powerful factor - then as now.

Tim persisted though - I have lots of respect for that! 




"Simple is hard"
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
No Life Club Posts: 1,606
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2018, 08:37:33 PM »
When I was young I had some mighty fine ideas, none of which I patented and now they exist in real life. Hindsight is 20/20 or so they say.

Been there too  :cheers: Although I would have been a few months late anyway: When the 18 month patent time disclosure window was lifted if turned out someone had applied a few months earlier. Well, I saved that money at least.

These days it is almost fair to just assume that if you have a great idea some other people have had it too and is already working on it somewhere in the world. It is just a race to execute first.

"Simple is hard"
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
No Life Club Posts: 1,873
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2018, 10:10:35 PM »
The repeated references to it being called the Dutch Army Knife, and the fact that we know Tim toured Europe before coming up with this thing point to how closely it is inspired by a certain tool from Solingen made after WWII and marketed to US stationed there in Germany.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but it is nice to see these. I mean, the man got his ass handed to him everywhere he went, and for years. Was it Cablas, or Winter that finally gave him some suggestions to change the tool a bit and then agreed to start selling them?

Keep pressing on when you know you have something good. The tough part is being sure you have something good.

Something else to consider: we should check Tim's various trademark dates versus submission and rejections. Some of these were rejected for design, implementation, or other issues, but sometimes he may have been rejected simply on the grounds they didn't want to pay Tim his due. They wanted the design, but not to have to pay him?
No Life Club Posts: 1,606
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2018, 12:38:36 AM »
Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but it is nice to see these. I mean, the man got his ass handed to him everywhere he went, and for years. Was it Cablas, or Winter that finally gave him some suggestions to change the tool a bit and then agreed to start selling them?

I think that was Cabela?

Keep pressing on when you know you have something good. The tough part is being sure you have something good.

Yes, one can rarely be sure. Most start-up entrepreneurs are fanatically convinced they have the next great thing though, and quite a few of those go all in. Most will still fail - the product or service concept is just a part of what it takes overall, and quite a lot is also outside of their control. I think Tim should get more credit for all the stuff beside the product itself he must have gotten right along the way.

It is indeed a necessary attitude to push through, but sometimes it can be hard to witness all the wreckage too.

Something else to consider: we should check Tim's various trademark dates versus submission and rejections. Some of these were rejected for design, implementation, or other issues, but sometimes he may have been rejected simply on the grounds they didn't want to pay Tim his due. They wanted the design, but not to have to pay him?

I will say this for the companies he contacted though; they did seem to treat him right and respectfully. None of them tried to outright steal the product or design. While rare that does happen sometimes. Cynical companies know that it isn't enough for you to have the right on your side - you also need to have the resources it takes to go to court to uphold that right.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2018, 12:40:28 AM by Vidar »

"Simple is hard"
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
No Life Club Posts: 1,873
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2018, 02:31:38 AM »
All good points, Vidar. I've seen a lot, however. Companies steal ideas, plans, and inventions all the time. First thing they check? Is it good idea. If that is a yes, second thing they check? Is that person's idea legally protected. I am willing to bet good money that Mr. Leatherman had trademarks and so many of these companies (the ones that liked the device) could not therefore steal the design and claim they invented it first, or that Tim had offered the design up for sale.

I thought the Case response was a nice one. The tool Didn't fit their profile
But they offered to produce blades for him if he ever needed a supplier. Very astute of them, really. Rejection with an option to be involved on some level if it took off.

My hat really is off to Mr. Leatherman. You can see by his prototypes that he didn't just amalgamate a bunch of existing tools into the PST. He had to craft his own from raw metal in order for it to truly be his own. One month of R&D became 8 years of trial, error, and rejection. I can only imagine the conversations Mrs. Leatherman had with her own mother asking about Tim and how's he supporting the family all this time and such. She must have the patience of Job. The payoff sure was worth it.
Hero Member Posts: 734
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2018, 03:51:25 AM »
I had not seen these before, thanks for sharing!
No Life Club Posts: 1,606
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2018, 03:53:27 AM »
Companies steal ideas, plans, and inventions all the time. First thing they check? Is it good idea. If that is a yes, second thing they check? Is that person's idea legally protected. I am willing to bet good money that Mr. Leatherman had trademarks and so many of these companies (the ones that liked the device) could not therefore steal the design and claim they invented it first, or that Tim had offered the design up for sale.

There is a third check too: The problem with patents is that it is basically a right to sue anyone who infringes on it. No public body will unveil or act on violators on your behalf. Add in that writing patent claims is the art of being precisely imprecise and you have ample ground for grey areas and long costly legal battles. That again leaves room for unethical companies to add a third check to your first two points; namely do they think you have the resources to enforce the patent if they infringe on it? An average patent trial is in the millions.

This is further complicated by the fact that patent authorities aren't strict enough in the first place and often grants patents that shouldn't have been granted or too wide claims. So when it does go to court you might have had the papers, but the result is that the court decides that the patent shouldn't have been granted as such in the first place. A common saying is that you don't really have a patent until it has won a court case.

Patents do have other worthwhile qualities too though.

I thought the Case response was a nice one. The tool Didn't fit their profile
But they offered to produce blades for him if he ever needed a supplier. Very astute of them, really. Rejection with an option to be involved on some level if it took off.

Yes, and Gerber did the heat treatments for a lot of years in the beginning. Thus learning directly from the source how fast that marked segment was growing before giving it a go themselves :)

My hat really is off to Mr. Leatherman. You can see by his prototypes that he didn't just amalgamate a bunch of existing tools into the PST. He had to craft his own from raw metal in order for it to truly be his own. One month of R&D became 8 years of trial, error, and rejection. I can only imagine the conversations Mrs. Leatherman had with her own mother asking about Tim and how's he supporting the family all this time and such. She must have the patience of Job. The payoff sure was worth it.

Yes, that can't have been easy. He did take up some regular work on the way though.

And I checked on the Cabela thing - it was a company called Early Winters that suggested the various changes, but when the changes were done they said no at first. So Cabela ended up placing the first order.

"Simple is hard"
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
Full Member Posts: 105
Re: Tim Leatherman Rejection Letters!
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2018, 03:16:25 AM »
Loved reading those, thanks for posting!

The curious flip side of this, is that the Leatherman company is now in a position to send their own letters of rejection to tomorrow's possible jackpot inventor.
I wonder 20 years from now, whose rejection letters we'll be reading with the Leatherman logo on the return label?

Speaking as someone who actually has sent in a couple of product suggestions to Leatherman, they are very courteous but not overly 'wowed' by every new idea which comes across their desks.

 

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