HELP!!!! THERMO stopps FrenchPress

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Hein-Tech
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HELP!!!! THERMO stopps FrenchPress

Since start of this year, THERMO FISHER stopped all production, support and delivery of the "good old FrenchPress", which was introduced to the lab market almost 60 years ago by SLM Aminco.
In almost every bio lab a FrenchPress is used but now - big TF stopped everything from one day to another, even also spare parts like sealing rings, nylon balls etc.
We want to do some big and international activities to continue this wonderful system, for which is no replacement or similar system available since the very beginning!
We need the help from all user, which are interested in continuation of this product line - if from THERMO or from other side! We informed THERMO already, that we will continue if we can get the rights from them.
We still provide service and spare parts - most items are still in stock, but they are running out and we want to continue!
Please contact us and tell us, if you want to help us to "force" THERMO. We have some plans how to proceed!
Thank you in advance - and thanks to SSI to support this!

TheFFM
TheFFM's picture
If Thermo Fisher see no

If Thermo Fisher see no business advantage for them to continue to manufacture and sell this product then I expect they would be open to receive bids for the technology rights (if there are still any patents) by another interested  company. 
I would get ask for a formal reason for the discontinuation of the product in writing.  This will allow you to bid the correct amount for the technology.  If you can get together the finances and the legal team require to buy the technology go for it.
Finally, are all the parts still covered by patents?  Could you start manufacturing your own generic and compatible version to sell, especially as there is apparently no business sense in Thermo Fisher manufacturing and distributing their own product?  Obviously be very careful (legally) with this approach.

heehawmcduff
heehawmcduff's picture
I guess if Thermo are not

I guess if Thermo are not making any profit from the system then they are within their rights to stop production of it, however inconvenient it may be.
Is there another laboratory company that provides the same type of system or can you use a more modern method of lysis, such as chemical and centrifugal fractionation?

Ivan Delgado
Ivan Delgado's picture
 

 
I do not use French Presses any more, but I used to when my work required the expression and purification of fusion proteins. It was hands down the best way of cracking open cells and getting the highest protein yields. 
Even back then I was surprised at the very low selection of instruments in this regard. Thermo is not doing very well financially (saw a decrease of 10% in revenue last quarter compared to the same period a year ago) and dropping their French Press makes a lot of sense since such an instrument is likely not the type that gets purchased often (it lasts for ever). Since their outlook for the rest of 2009 is bad, they are going to continue cutting products like these in the near future.
As TheFFM suggested, determine if it is possible to obtain the necessary IP (or license) necessary to build your own instrument. Or better yet find out if you can build a new one outside Thermo's IP. When a company that is too large like Thermo drops a product, it is quite possible that the reason is that they are simply not making a ton of money on it. This may create a very real opportunity for a small company to make a lot of money on the same field/technology (assuming there is adequate demand). 
 

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
THERMO Fisher Scientific

THERMO Fisher Scientific basically stopped the product line for economic reasons, but they try to tell, that there is a security issue. But this is not true! Their biggest problem is the fact, that no-one in the whole company knows what they are talking about this product!
On their business paper they write as top headline "The world leader in serving science"
Now they serve science just by killing this product line even while other companies (like us!) are intersted in continuing this product.
There is no other product in the market which is offering hte same performance and quality like this product line - so science will really lose a big tool for the lab!
The product was released around 1953, so there should not be any patent anymore.
If users of the FrenchPress around the world will stand together, we can really "force" TFS to allow us to continue legally!
We (my father, me and my company) know the FrenchPress inside and outside since more than 50 years serving the German and Central European market with this product and technology (not only seling article numbers, price and discount lime it is common today!), doing also the complete service and repair. So our knowledge of this product might me much more then in all THERMO.
But we are a small company and cannot risk any law suit against THERMO, also we do not want to do anything illeagal, we just want to continue what THERMO stops to keep this wonderful product alive (I worked several years with this product in my lab during University and I know exaclty how valuable this product is and that there is no real replacement available!)
So I need all your help to be able to confinue - really serving science!
Please try to help
Andreas

TheFFM
TheFFM's picture
If you as passionate as you

If you as passionate as you appear about this you should set up an online petition with the service provider of your choice and post the link here and on any other science resource web site to spread the word.
http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/internet/page5524.cfm
If you get enough signatures you could use that to approach Thermo about negotiating for the products rights or persuading them to sell them to someone who wants to make it again even if it is not you.

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
Unfortunately I do not have

Unfortunately I do not have any idea what you mean and how I can do this!
Andreas

TheFFM
TheFFM's picture
go to www.ipetitions.com

go to www.ipetitions.com/start-petition/
Start a petition and name it something like "THERMO make French Press again or sell the IP"
In the info describe the petition as "Petition for THERMO to reinstate manufacture of the French Press or allow commercial manufacture of generic parts by 3rd parties".  Complete more details like you have here about the history and importance of the equipment.
Contact everyone you know and post the link on discussion boards like this one.
You could use the signatures that you get to prove that there is a market for the product to THERMO or to someone else willing to provide the capital to fund a venture that will manufacture and sell an equivalent repleacement product.

Jason King
Jason King's picture
If the Frenchpress has been

If the Frenchpress has been produced in an unchanged model format since the 1950's, the patent will have expired and you should be free to produce and sell it yourself. If the term "FrenchPress" has been trademarked then you will have to use a different name as the TM could still exist and belong to someone (ThermoFisher most likely). To be sure you should ask a Patent Anwalt to check the intellectual property relating to the FrenchPress (Patents, Trademarks, Design Rights etc).
From a business point of view I would want to know why Thero has stopped selling the item. Do they sell another system that does the same but which is more disposable and thus brings in more profit? The alternative product does not have to be better than the FrenchPress, just more profitable.
If, in the long term, the revenue from such a system is just from selling washers and Dichtungen, then I can see why they would want to stop. As long as there is not a competing product in the Thermo Fisher product range then I can't see why they wouldn't agree to transfer any rights they might have over the product.
If I had to rank commercial suppliers of scientific machinary by their degree of understanding of scientists' needs and customer service then Thermo Fisher would be about where Spain ended up in this year's Eurovision Song Contest - sorry Spain, we know your pain!

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
Hallo Parvoman,

Hallo Parvoman,
thank you very much for your post. There are sevreal reasons, why THERMO stopped this wonderful product, the main reasons are only econimical and lack of knowledge. They do not have any product (not even far similar o in the same application area, which might be in competition to the FrenchPress, so they can "serve science" by allowing others to continue this still valuable and daily needed lab tool.
I can tell you much more background of the whole story in a direct contact, so just send me a PN.
We hope, we can convince TFS to allow us to continue, we do it anyway in any possibility we have- but the 100 % legal one is the preferred!
We need your support in achieving this task by your help with posts like this!!!
The FrenchPress has to and will survive, may be with another name!
More details on this topic available at us!

Thermo Scientific
Thermo Scientific's picture
 My name is Jeffrey Johnston.

 My name is Jeffrey Johnston. I am the Product Director at Thermo responsible for the French Press. I will be happy to reply directly to anyone who would like accurate and current information about the discontinuation of the French Press. You can contact me at jeffrey.johnston@thermofisher.com.
Please include you name, facility, email and mailing address, telephone number, and if you are currently using a French Press. If you are a French Press user, please also provide the serial number of your machine so that you receive the most relevant information and details about the product.
We at Thermo Fisher will be happy to make sure you have correct and up-to-date information about all of our products. I look forward to answering your French Press questions directly and individually.
Best Regards,
Jeffrey D. Johnston
Product Director
Ancillary Products
Thermo Fisher Scientific

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
Hi Jeffrey,

Hi Jeffrey,
the official THERMO FISHER announcement is very easy:
Hydraulic Press and MiniCell are canceled without any future by further support of spare parts like Nylon Balls etc.!!
Large homogenizing cell (40.000 psi, 35 ml, art.no:  FA-032) will be continued for 1 1/2 year with only seals etc. but not other important spare parts like exchange piston, valve, closure plug etc.
Why does "The worlds leader in serving science" not allow us to continue this product line  (under our responsibility and care) by giving the official allowance to us. You could serve science by making all users able to use this product also in the future.
Since almost 60 years, this product is used in many labs worldwide - without any problems or dangerous situations (as THERMO try to explain in some internal papers - the ones who are explaining this have never seen a FrenchPress working before nor they have worked with one in a lab!!!!!) Now you stopp without any opther reason - may be not enough profit?
Why don't you give an open statement?
Andreas
 
 
 

Jason King
Jason King's picture
What rights do Thermo Fisher

What rights do Thermo Fisher have for the production or sale of the FrenchPress?
The other question would be - would you be able to make enough money out of continuing the FrenchPress trade and servicing etc?

Thermo Scientific
Thermo Scientific's picture
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Dear Mr. Heinemann:
I acknowledge seeing your message here in reply to my update on the French Press. It is clear that you do not agree with our business decision to discontinue that product. I would emphasize that the decision was reached only after consideration of a number of factors and we stand by that conclusion. In that regard, we have supplied you and other French Press users all the details we have available about the current and future status of the product.
I also confirm again that we committed to a service parts and support program for the French Press units, as well as for the supply of the 40K cells. Those details as you know are available in our official letters and notices that have already been distributed. As in my original message, we are glad to communicate directly with any French Press user or customer who requires the information.
We appreciate your interest in the French Press, and are happy to confirm that Thermo Fisher Scientific will continue to support the product according to our previously distributed terms and schedules.
Jeffrey Johnston
Director Ancillary Products
Thermo Fisher Scientific
jeffrey.johnston@thermofisher.com

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
Dear Mr. Johnston,

Dear Mr. Johnston,
all our official information obtained from THERMO is the confirmation, that the pressure cell FA-032 will be continued for 1 1/2 year and spare parts for this cell (only!!) will be available till end of 2012.
But even for this cell, several real important replacement and accessoriy parts will not be available anymore. Only sealing O-rings and back up rings are listed as being continued, no valve, no piston, nothing! I asked for those parts several times here at THERMO EUROPE - but I only got negative messages!
And most customers are working with cells, which are not supported anymore - like the small MiniCell and espececially all systems with homogenizing valves with Nyoln balls. (I understand, that you do not know in detail, what I am talking about) nevertheless these customer NEEDS to have their consumables also in the future.
BTW: in opposite to some of your official messages, these cells are working since many many years, some even more than 30 years - without any problem or security issues - as most users can confirm!
The FrenchPress is still not replaceable by any other system in the entire market and just to offer a FA-032 will not solve the problem of the users.
So why does THERMO refuse to "allow" us the possibilty to help these customers? We do not need any help, information or others from THERMO to continue, we just do not want to have problems with THERMO attorneys later on!
We can and we would like to continue and help by this continuation "THERMO to serve Science"
BTW: I do not think that there is still any legal right at THERMO, as the patent is expired since long time and also there is no trade mark registration on this product anymore -. even when it is marked with (R).
Can you give me - and our both customers - any reason fior this refusal?
I really would be more than happy to discuss this in a serious and mutual way directly and personally with you, but all out trials for this were blocked with short refusal emails
I am looking forward to your response
Andreas P. Heinemann

G. HEINEMANN Ultraschall- und Labortechnik
D-73525 Schwaebisch Gmuend
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(BTW: we are selling, supporting and repairing the FrenchPress(former SLM Aminco) since more than 50 years worldwide!! Also I worked with this worderful product in my lab during University, so I know what I am talking about and what big loss this means to bio-sciences)
 
@ parvoman:      As far as we found in our surveys, there are no rights anymore at THERMO like patents etc.. And we understand very well that this product line does not bring enough money for THERMO (or even any!) becvause it is really a niche product. Also to make a good and reliable support, you have to know the product, not only from the catalogue as a number!
But we are able and willing to continue to sell, serve and support the FrenchPress without any hesitations. Let's serve the FrenchPress customer also in the future!
 

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
As I (and all FrenchPress

As I (and all FrenchPress users) can see now:
when talking real words and facts, the reaction of THERMO is only  SILENCE
Also, when going the correct way in THERMO hierarchy (here through Germany) and asking about the "officially promised future", no answer is coming back over weeks!
It is really very sad to have this reaction from "the world leader in serving science"!
Andreas Heinemann
 

TheFFM
TheFFM's picture
Andreas

Andreas
It is clear from the posts made in Mr Johnston's earlier replies that he is willing to continue the dialogue, but personally and not on this public forum.  It is admirable that a representative of the company took the time to make a public statement on your issue in these forums.  I know that those members of this site that did contact him directly were spoken with and had their concerns answered.
Unfortunately you are not getting the precise responses you are looking for here and your frustration is both apparent and understandable.  It seems that you are taking the correct steps in investigating ways in which you can continue to legally support this product for existing owners and I wish you every success in your mission.  I hope it can be resolved without acrimony between your company and Thermo.
If you have not already done so I suggest that you to contact Mr Johnston directly again with the content of your two previous posts and continue to try and work out a resolution.  As all scientists know, perseverance is the mother of success.
 

Hein-Tech
Hein-Tech's picture
Thank TheFFM you for your

Thank TheFFM you for your answer and especially your mental support!
I contacted all "real" responsible in the FrenchPress" hierarchy of THERMO already end of last year, when I saw this situation already as the real future!
But in the same way, everyone knows, that the step to change a decision inside such a big company like THERMO is almost impossible, when a decision was made already by any of the co-workers - whatever mangament level she/he has! In this case a new responsibilty has to be set up and why should it be done - it is easier to stay as it is!
I really do not want to fight with or against THERMO, I really want to offer them a continuation of their product line to help their customers worldwide (to servce science!) without taking them away ANYTHING!
But so far Ihave not found any serious way to discuss this with anyone real responsible who is not hiding behind some decisions amde somewhere! And who is responsible enough to make a new decision in case of convincing him!
In any "private" email contacts, only empty excuses and not real explanations for the reasons of their decision came over, but I really know much more of the background, I am sure even better then most of the THERMO staff connected to the FrenchPress issue!
Nevertheless I hope being successful by being perseverent!
Andreas