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Nancy Nally is the owner of Nally Studios and the publisher and editor of Scrapbook Update and Craft Critique, two websites focused on the scrapbooking industry. And avid scrapbooker for more than 20 years, Nancy has a keen interest in news and trends that affect the industry. Again this year she will be bringing us quarterly reports on the scrapbooking industry and we’re excited to publish the first installment for 2019. Here’s Nancy:

Ellison Sues Five Companies Over Patent

Ellison, the parent of Sizzix brand, has filed suit against five different companies since November 2018 alleging infringement of a die technology patent it holds. Stephanie Barnard, a Sizzix licensed designer, and her The Stamps of Life company were the first sued in November 2018. This was followed by Prima Marketing and Hero Arts in December 2018. Ellison launched an additional suit against Avery Elle in January 2019, and yet another in February 2019 against Heartfelt Creations.

All of the suits allege infringement on a patent that Ellison has held since 2015. The patent claims ownership of innovating thin metal dies that are designed with none of the metal edge extending into the open center of the die, past the cutting blade. It also claims ownership of the method of aligning dies designed in that manner with stamped images that are put through a roller die cut machine to cut them out. And finally, the patent claims ownership of the concept of producing nested thin metal dies with completely open centers.

Prima quickly settled the case against them, but multiple other companies are mounting vigorous defenses against Ellison’s suits that include challenging the validity of the patent itself. If the cases go all the way to trial, they will last at least until into the third quarter of 2020 (based on current scheduling in several cases).

Cricut to Discontinue Cuttlebug

The Cricut Cuttlebug.

Cricut has announced that it has made the decision to discontinue its manual die cut machine, the Cuttlebug. The machine’s accessories, including dies and embossing folders, will also be discontinued. The Cuttlebug, which works with thin metal dies and embossing folders, had been being marketed as an accessory to Cricut’s electronic die cut machines. The machine and accessories are available at Cricut.com and other outlets while supplies last.

Lifeway Christian Stores Closing

Lifeway Christian has announced it is closing all 170 of its local retail stores before the end of 2019. The stores, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, have been a retail outlet for Bible journaling products from brands like Illustrated Faith and Ranger Ink to reach non-crafters. Lifeway plans to continue some retail operations online, but it’s unclear whether Bible journaling will be part of their offering.

Some Costco Photo Labs Closed

In yet another sign that fewer people are printing their photos, Costco has been gradually closing photo labs in several states during the past year.  To date, photo labs in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and California have been affected by closures. Costco members in those areas can still order photos online for delivery by mail.

Consumers not converting digital photos into print is one factor widely blamed for the decline of the scrapbook industry in the past 15 years. An archival salvage movement has been building in some quarters that calls for the printing of photos to save them from becoming technologically obsolete. But the concept has yet to catch on with the average consumer, who it seems prefers in 2019 to keep their photos on their phone and nowhere else.

Big Changes at Project Life

Becky Higgins announced earlier this year that (presumably due to a shifting market for her signature Project Life pocket scrapbooking products) that her namesake company is making some major changes in 2019. The first change was the closure of the physical office that housed Becky Higgins LLC operations and shifting back to its roots of running it’s operating from home offices.

The Good Life products from Becky Higgins.

In addition, the company is discontinuing (at least for now) its foray into lifestyle products called The Good Life, as well as all consumer show exhibiting. They will also no longer ship product from their online store to international customers and have ended their affiliate program. Consumers can expect instead to see a renewed focus on marketing the company’s core Project Life brand kits and app.

Fancy Pants Designs Partners with Foundations Décor

Fancy Pants Designs, which was founded in 2004 by Jodi Sanford and her husband Jared Sanford, has been bought by Foundations Décor. Effective April 1, all orders for current Fancy Pants Designs will be handled through Foundations Décor. Jodi Sanford, Fancy Pants’ Creative Director, will be remaining with the brand in its new home at Foundations Décor. New product releases are promised soon, including some that are being specially designed to work with the specialty of Foundations Décor, wood and home décor crafting.

My Sweet Petunia Sues Over MISTI Patents Again

My Sweet Petunia wasn’t done with patent litigation after settling their patent infringement lawsuit against Tonic Studios over the Tim Holtz stamp platform last summer. In October 2018, the company sued Stampin’ Up! alleging that their Stamparatus tool also violated the patent on My Sweet Petunia’s MISTI tool.

Stampin’ Up! has filed counter-claims against My Sweet Petunia challenging, among other things, the validity of My Sweet Petunia’s patents. The company is citing the L Letterpress Tool from Lifestyle Crafts and the Cathie Allan Position-It tool as examples of similar products that pre-date the MISTI. In addition, Stampin’ Up! are citing a patent granted in 2013 to Lifestyle Crafts as prior art. Given the complexity of patent litigation, this suit is likely to be ongoing for months (if not years), barring a settlement.

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