Caretaker Revolution 6-Port Valve Allegedly Stole Design from Patented Competitors Design
According to sources, the Caretaker Revolution 6-Port Valve’s release utilizes a design that was presented to them four years before their release in 2019. Entrepreneur, engineer, and designer Thomas Lopez who owns Aquavida Pools and Pool Patch in Phoenix, AZ, alleges that Caretaker and their parent company, Zodiac, outright stole a proprietary design that he presented to the executives at Caretaker in Salt Lake City in 2015. Following these meetings, Caretaker’s Todd Cramer declined an offer for Lopez’s patented designs citing the companies lack of desire to work with products that did not already generate revenue.
Flash forward to the Caretaker Revolution 6-Port Valve release in 2019, which uses a design so similar to Lopez’s that he’s begun compiling a patent infringement suit against Caretaker, who claims to have no prior knowledge of the design in their intellectual property filings. Caretaker’s valve also appears to have utilized a wearless cassette design that Lopez also patented in 2015 and demonstrated to Caretaker during his two meetings with executives and engineers at the Zodiac headquarters. While the valve has generated considerable buzz in the swimming pool industry, these accusations are spreading, and Lopez appears to have a solid case against Caretaker.
Following the merger between Zodiac and Fluidra in 2018, industry insiders began to notice a trend towards a monopoly from the brand as smaller companies were bought and shuttered to reduce competition and increase their reach. Zodiac is the parent company to some of the most recognized brands in the swimming pool industry, including Polaris®, Jandy®, Baracuda®, Nature2®, and Cover-Pools®. While this practice isn’t new, Lopez’s accusation of patent infringement against the leadership rates questions about their corporate practices and integrity. Considering Lopez’s proof of the demonstrations and the comparison of his design to the design utilized by Caretaker, it does seem that his claims are credible. Neither Zodiac nor LaMont Dreschel has not been reached for comment at this time.
While Caretaker has taken steps in recent years to build a brand identity that is geared towards small, local, and independent pool service providers and contractors, these accusations appear to indict this image and depict a corporate machine that, in fact, profits off of stolen designs and relies on their financial advantage to avoid repercussions.
Lopez is continuing his efforts to uncover Caretaker’s IP theft stating, “at the end of the day this isn’t about me getting paid, or credit for my intellectual property, I want to expose them and help out the local guys like me who have worked hard to build a company and brand only to be exploited. This kind of thing happens all the time, and I’m just sick of it.”
Lopez has worked in the swimming pool installation, renovation, service, and equipment industry since 1992 and holds over twenty unique patents in a variety of fields. His allegations against Caretaker reveal a corporate culture that seems murkier than the crystal clear waters the swimming pool industry peddles.