Unfounded Accusations – Dent Reaper

Unfounded Accusations

Posted by Jon Videen on

On February 5, 2021 unfounded accusations of plagiarism (the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own) were made against me and two of my respected colleagues.  These accusations were based on the design of our new collaborative PDR tool line known as XecutioneR. The claim of our accuser is that the XecutioneR PDR Tools were, "developed by copying the concepts" of two of their existing tools.  This claim was made based only on the accusers assumptions after seeing photographs and or video of the XecutioneR, they had never even held the tools physically or used them for a repair. I believe this statement is inaccurate for multiple reasons.  I will lay out the facts here and let you decide for yourself.

While there are some similarities to the basic shape of the tools, there are design differences in the shapes as well, the function of the XecutioneR is not the same, they are made from different materials, and their intended use is completely different.

With all of these differences, I was perplexed by these accusations.  It didn't make sense until I was informed by a mutual acquaintance that the heart of the problem actually stems back almost 2 years to the release of the Reaper Rods.

In April of 2019 I paid to attend a PDR training seminar put on by the accusing tool company.  I learned a lot about their tools and the intended techniques of said tools, techniques they now claim as their own, more on that later...

The day before the seminar I volunteered to help with setup at the host location, paint touch ups, setting up chairs and practice panels, etc... I met one of the Seminar Trainers, Clif Rameden, that day and showed him a prototype version of the Reaper Rod, he said he liked it and recommended a few tweaks.  After the seminar we had a happy hour where we mingled and chatted with all of the attendees and trainers, during that time I showed just about everyone there the prototype and some gave their feedback and or suggestions, the founder of the accusing company included.

After the final tweaks were made to the Reaper Rod design it was time to promote the tools and get ready to put it on the market.  At that time I wanted to give credit where it was due and invited Clif Rameden, who first suggested I round of the edges of the signature back swooped heel of the tool, to help describe the benefits of his suggestion.  He accepted the invite and we did a series of social media posts describing the tool and its intended uses.  After posting these videos I learned that the accusing PDR tool company was unhappy with his involvement, I thought they were upset because he was helping with promotion.

I never heard anything of this again.  In fact, in the months following our initial meeting at the PDR Training seminar, I had many interactions with the accusing PDR tool company.  I purchased over $2,000 worth of tools from them at MTE Vegas, before the show in their hotel room, we had a great time at PDR World Cup, I also stopped into their seminar at MTE Orlando and purchased more tools.  Never once did anyone say anything about the Reaper Rod.  Until... one of their affiliated technicians posted about it in the comments section of their plagiarism post.  I have worked closely with this particular technician on 2 different hail storms, one at my own home.  The issue of the Reaper Rod did come up while working at my home shop and it was more of a joking situation, I think we even called Clif and had a good laugh.  Apparently I misunderstood the situation...?

Either way this claim of ownership over the design aspects and or concepts is a pretty large leap in my opinion.  

Let's examine the evidence...

We'll start with a patent filed in 1945 by William H. Ferguson for a "Tool for reshaping automobile panels" as you'll see in the photo the likeness to the Reaper Rod and or XecutioneR is undeniable.  I was first made aware of this patent on a live video posted during a Dent Tech Meetup in California.

I guess I am not as innovative as I thought...?

PDR Tool Patent

So, if anyone has a claim to the design concept it'd be William H. Ferguson, but his patent expired in 1966. If you'd like to read the entire patent it's linked here.

With this patent being expired so long ago I can't understand how anyone would be so bold as to claim ownership of its design concepts.

But wait...There's More...

In a book published in 1939 titled "The Key To Metal Bumping" there are concepts, tools, and techniques that are very similar to those that the accusing PDR Tool company claims to "own".

In chapter 5 a particular passage, referring to old-time sheet metalsmiths, stands out, "The requirements of their craft were that they should be able, with hand tools, to bend, beat, roll, stretch, and trim a piece of flat sheet metal..." and later in chaper 5 it would seem to me that the basic principles of PDR were understood over 80 years ago in this passage,

A die-formed panel has a slight amount of elasticity. It is

also springy. It has "life," or strength, in that it has die-
formed strains throughout its entire area which tend to hold

the panel in shape unless damaged. And, if damaged, these
die-formed strains tend to return the panel to its proper
shape, providing the damage strains are removed in proper
The necessary tools for removing or releasing the damage

strains are those which can be applied to the ridges and V-
channels without further injury to the panel. The most effi-
cient and easily used tools are those which also are made from

the best steels, properly designed and balanced for easy
manipulation, forged and heat treated for long and hard

In chapter 17 I noticed some interesting similarities to a few of the tools pictured...

 old school dent tools

It's hard to tell the similarities here so I ordered these tools to be sure here's a short video comparison.

I am only pointing this out to show that these tool design concepts and techniques have been around for quite some time.  Our industry grows and evolves as do the vehicles we repair.  Small incremental changes and evolutions of these tools and techniques have gotten us to where we are now and will continue to help us grow and improve as an entire industry in the future.

To be clear I am NOT claiming that the accusing PDR Tool company plagiarized these tools or techniques.  In fact, I have nothing but, respect and admiration for their tools, techniques, and training. 

The accomplishments and abilities as a PDR technician, tool innovator, and trainer of Kaz are admirable to say the least. He is a true icon of our industry.

The tools I have purchased from them and the training I received at their seminar have made me and many other PDR Technicians better at our craft.  They are an asset to our industry as a whole.

My only complaint is that they claim to own these concepts and claim that anyone else who attempts to utilize them is a "plagiarist".  These claims can only serve to stifle further innovation and hold us back as an industry and to use my accusers words...

"We wanted to bring this issue to the entire community because we believe that is inexcusable behavior and we do not take this lightly. These sorts of actions harm the integrity of our community and our industry." 

I have never and will never intend to duplicate something that already exists on the market, nor would I support any intentionally copied tools, that would be a waste of my time and energy.

I believe we should all strive for improvement in all areas, dream big, seek out the solutions that will help each an every one of us become the best craftsmen we can be.  With every tool I have designed or will design my goal to to increase efficiency and functionality to make the jobs of the technician using them a little easier. 

From what I can tell, we are as an industry extremely innovative, technicians post repairs everyday that impress me, and many of us modify our tools on the fly in order to complete repairs everyday.  I have said it before and will continue to say, that I believe there are PDR Techs all over the world with excellent custom tools on their carts and I hope they bring them to market.  I am not scared by the competition, I am excited for the potential of the innovation for the industry as a whole.

If anyone would like to discuss this further please give me a call, or perhaps we could discuss it over a beer, like gentlemen, heck... I might even pick up the check, mate.😉