Inventor seeks justice in court.
It’s the old story of the big boys bullying the little guy, taking his idea and then squeezing him out of the deal. But in this case, the inventor of the iconic Wonder Plug is not lying down. He wants to settle the score once and for all with Ellies Electronics, whose very profitable surge protection plug is, at best, based on his product; at worst, a near copy of it.
Jason Roper is MD of Africa Surge Protection and designer of the original Wonder Plug, which he patented. In 2002 he teamed up with Ellies Electronics, who agreed to sell the plug, along with a range of similar Roper products, in its chain stores but with their own branding. “The deal was that we’d supply, and they’d distribute our range,” says Roper.
All very well, until the patent on the Wonder Plug lapsed.
It didn’t affect the business relationship with Ellie Salkow, founder and executive chairman of Ellies, and in 2005, at their annual meeting to discuss production needs, Roper was asked to expand his production capacity to meet the growing demand for the Wonder Plug.