Monday, June 05, 2006

An iLoad Of Drama: The True Story Of Sanford Schupper, Bernie Copeland, & Wingspan Investment Partners



History, so it seems, repeats itself.

I was doing some "searching" on Google for a product that I've been anxiously awaiting called "iLoad" - a direct from CD to iPod song importing device.

I don't mean to drag up an old controversy and I especially don't want to seem late to the game on this subject ... but this is high level drama here ...

I typed "iLoad" into the Safari Google Search Toolbar and found this:

Gizmodo Claims iLoad Inventor Jailed

Previously, Gizmodo had done a rather unfavorable intro story on the iLoad:

The iLoad is a little thingie that rips CDs to your iPod. I’m thinking this is a proof-of-concept patent thing for future lawsuits—“PATENT 1,100,033,032,095 - A device that removes data from compact discs and transfers it to a portable music player”— but we’ll see what comes of it.


* I removed some of the wording from the Gizmodo story because I found it rather inflammatory but not defamatory

There was also another post on Gizmodo:

iLoad Inventor and PR Bernie Copeland Give Bad Vibes With PR

So we get a call the other day about the iLoad, which, on the surface, seems, shall we say, "no longer necessary." It's the iLoad PR fella, good guy, it seems. He's going to send us a bit on this new product, all is well, we'll take a look, make a more refined judgement. We see hundreds of ideas like these—on the surface, they're fine. Given a bit of thought, they're kind of silly. More power to the inventor. Yeah, team. Different strokes for different folks.

So I'm not really concerned until the inventor, a certain Sanford B. Schupper, dropped us a line today:

If you want to pontificate or seek self-aggrandizement either go into politics or don’t do it at someone else’s expense. Your business credentials don’t justify such public scathing of something you have no first hand info about. “Think before you speak”...or get a towel and some lotion and head for the bathroom...might be more fulfilling and won’t be at the expense of others.

No need to respond. Just grow up.


Sandy

So we get flamed over a silly CD player that dumps audio to an iPod with no visible means of getting the CD track info via the Interweb—maybe it's got wireless, or maybe it's vaporware: the website doesn't say—and I'm starting to get a little curious. Why would Mr. Schupper be so angry about this. Could he be making [this] up?

Then I found this story from the Colorado Springs Gazette. The gist appears here:

A Monument businessman convicted of theft and securities fraud won’t be allowed to travel to China to market a product he invented, a judge ruled Friday.

Sanford Schupper, 56, has been convicted of defrauding Citibank Visa of as much as $200,000 and sentenced to six years in prison. In another case, Schupper was convicted of swindling a family out of $872,000 and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Friday, Schupper’s lawyer asked senior state District Court Judge Donald Campbell to grant Schupper permission to go to China to market his latest invention, an accessory for Apple iPods.


So, I decided to find out what had happened since all of this drama took place (that I'm sorry I and possibly some of my regular readers missed).

I decided to email iLoad Customer Service. No response within 48 hours.

I called. No reponse to a voicemail I left in 24 hours.

I called a 2nd time about 32 hours later. The response this time was a returned phone call with a very accusational and odd sounding guy right off the bat.

We spoke for nearly 45 minutes. I asked a couple of questions. He stated the common, "I've never heard of your website". I reminded him of some of the more famous articles I have done here, such as stories on Jack Campbell, Bill Palmer, and the like. He had never heard of Jack Campbell and he had never heard of Bill Palmer. He had heard of iPodGarage (Bill Palmer's site recently changed to the name iProng). Apparently there was a sample or demo deal with Palmer in the works for the iLoad

I am in the process of making a revolutionary iPod peripheral myself. I have spoken to DLO, Griffin and other 3rd party iPod peripheral manufacturers about the product I'm trying to bring to market. I mentioned who I had spoken to, to give me a little bit of "street cred" so I could convey that I knew what I was talking about. I also wanted him to know that I'm intimately involved with the inner workings of the iPod industry. Towards the end of the conversation with Mr. Copeland, the guy who returned my phone call from iLoad, I mentioned the possibility of discussing my peripheral with his company, to kind of see what his reply was.

The reply, "You would still do business with us considering our reputation and the immense damage our name has received on the internet?""

This wasn't the 1st time I had heard this. Mr. Copeland seems to think he's a victim. He and "the people" at Wingspan Investment Partners manufactured a "victim attitude" and he mentioned that when the time is appropriate, he and Wingspan were going to re-evaluate the "Gizmodo damage", but that bringing it up would only serve to further muddy the waters and damage their reputation. I told him, actually, that the Gizmodo article was incomplete and (according to him) inaccurate. Not clarifying it, in my opinion, is slowly but surely sinking in a negative vibe about iLoad.

If products are ever released from iLoad.com certainly word will get back out about the Gizmodo bruhaha. I wanted to clarify the drama so as to help iLoad. I like the concept of the product. But, "the iLoad Team", seems to think that by bringing it up again, it will serve to harm them. Before the conversation on the phone with Mr. Copeland ... I thought my article would help. Now, I have an entirely different opinion of iLoad and Wingspan Investment Partners LLC.

Again, I would like to stress, I thought there was no damage, the only damage that occurred was when the former intellectual property owner (Sanford Schupper) stepped up and ran his mouth.

It just all seemed weird to me ... something wasn't adding up here.

I thought we had ended the conversation rather amicably and with a potential business relationship that might ensue.

This morning I wake up to find a message from the CEO of DLO with small snippets from an email that was sent to him over the weekend. He forwarded me his reply without giving me the exact email Bernie Copeland of Wingspan sent him:

Actually, yes I do know Philip Smith. The name escaped me and I had to jog my memory by looking through some email. He runs a site called jackwhispers.com among other things. I have met with him several times in the past year. Our relationship has been extremely amicable. He has visited our offices, we have discussed some potential business, we have provided him with free DLO product. There is a lot of mutual respect between myself, my company, and Philip. I am very surprised that you would say what you have said below. I have cc’d him on my reply in hopes to get some type of explanation. I really hate “he said, she said” games. I have much more important things to do with work and family.

Best.



[CEO DLO],


The DLO CEO included this little snippet from Mr. Copeland's email for me to explain:

By the way, do you know of Philip Smith? He’s trying to spread very “bad stuff” about DLO and yourself. I understand that this is his practice. Something about “Stealing” IP.


Wow, so apparently Bernie Copeland has now engaged in slandering me and potentially trying to hurt my business relationships ... sounds familiar right?

In my phone conversation with Mr. Copeland, I had mentioned that lawsuits amongst iPod developers were common. I asked if he were aware of the DLO suit against Griffin and Griffin's separate suit against a former employee of Griffin who now works for DLO.

The report of public record is pretty much what I delivered verbatim to Mr. Copeland, who oddly wasn't aware of any of the "business" in his own industry.

Here is the reply I sent back to the CEO of DLO:

[DLO CEO],

Looks like we've got another [disaster danger] type on our hands.

I contacted iLoad (Wingspan Investment Partners) a few days back for two reasons.

1) To clear up a story on GIZMODO (see if it reminds you of anything)

http://epierce.blog.usf.edu/feeds/Gizmodo/2005/11/12/iLoad_Inventor_Vents__Is_Out_on_Bail

2) To see if he may be interested in our product ... being that it seems beyond the scope and product reach of DLO, Griffin, etc at this time ... even though each of you have expressed interest.

I had a conversation with him on Friday ... he was very jumpy and quite honestly, he seemed very shady.

He expressed to me that one does not have to license the dock connector, it is not advantageous ("all that much") to use the "Made for iPod" program, and that they do not have to be a licensed/authorized developer to interface with the iPod. He also expressed that the iLoadC does not have to interface with iTunes over a cell network to put MP3's on an iPod. He said you could interface with MANY other music stores. I didn't know any other music stores worked with the iPOD. Interesting?

I expressed to him that lawsuits are common amongst the 3rd party iPod peripheral market. I mentioned that you had one against Griffin, and Griffin had one against an employee of yours (I told him to Google for details), and as it seems 5-6 are looming in the courts amongst everyone else. I also mentioned the VERY positive relationship I felt [my business partner] and I have with you and [the rest of DLO] and that I just happen to write for and cover Apple Community Drama on my site ... hopefully unbiasly. For him to try and jeopardize that relationship makes me very angry.

This guy is nothing short of a loon. I do not appreciate his trying this stunt.

Again, I have said nothing bad about your company and certainly did not plan to "say bad things about DLO or his company" ... I might change that opinion about his company ... well ... maybe it was already changed and that was the cattle prod.

Thanks for forwarding me this information.

Funny, that he would do this ... and also tell me that I should contact their market rep to set up a meeting to discuss my product.

I also have a very favorable and very unique review of the "DLO Microdock" with a 30 day long term test. Look for it.

Is it possible to send me the full text of his message? He may have slandered me. It seems he certainly did not tell the truth ... I have our entire conversation recorded.

Philip


So ... it seems we have a developing story here .... what do you think? Had any of you heard about this controversy?

[UPDATE] Knowing most of the product managers at the "big guy iPod Peripheral Makers" I emailed them a part of this story and asked them to read the rest. One "person" I received word from summed up what "all of the others" have said to me:

"I can confirm his position that he said that he "does not have to work with Apple for connectors and interfaces". In fact, in my conversation with him he said he "talked to Apple and they said that he did not have to be a part of the program". I was very surprised when he said this, because this has never been Apple’s position. And we know first hand."

9 comments:

blogdog said...

I know that I wondered what happened to the iLoad. It seems like it's either vaporware or "proof of concept for lawsuit material" like the original Gizmodo article said.

The thing I wondered was; how in the heck it would get song titles onto the iPod. You'd end up with a lot of random track numbers and no organization because in the numbering scheme if you had ripped 4 CDs you'd have 4 Track 4's right next to each other. You'd still need a computer to do some legwork for you ... thereby defeating the purpose of the iLoad.

fixyourthinking said...

Found in the Gizmodo forums on the topic:

Unless you never plan to connect your iPod to iTunes, the music files "iLoaded" will be erased when connected to iTunes. You can have multiple iPods linked to one computer with iTunes but not the other way around.

Again. The more you think about this product and get your hopes up for it being cool, and then sit back and think about reality, the less this seems like a useful product.

Shamino said...

Not quite. iTunes won't wipe content from an iPod unless you have it set up for automatic updating (against your library or playlists.)

If you configure the iPod for manual updating only, then iTunes won't wipe anything. You can use iTunes to manually delete files from the iPod or add new files to it (but not drag files out of it, of course.)

Still, this would be unacceptable to me. I like the ability to auto-update its content against my smart playlists, and would never give up that ability.

Anonymous said...

I can assure you that Sandy Schupper has a long history of trouble with people he has ripped off. Those that we know about.

His background is littered with arrests, federal and civil claims, etc. Used to sell guns in Colo. and Feds caught up with him. He has no cred whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I had the misfortune of doing some light PR for the iload a few months ago (but only for a few weeks). they are COMPLETELY bogus. total lies, complete fabrications. and the product is crap (buggy, and useless)

Anonymous said...

I was involved in the late 70's with a company that did business with Sandy Schupper and his Boston-based flim flam vehicle, Mediserv/Dentiserv. He ran up huge office, private jet, and computer equipment bills before he disappeared, leaving vendors, lenders, and service providers holding the bag. Over the past three decades, Mr. Schupper (aka Shepper aka Shudder) has been involved in numerous acts of securities fraud, software and service scams, etc. He has been sentenced to prison on several occasions. It isn't a question of if he'll scheme again, just when and who the poor suckers will be. He's a pathological con artist.

Anonymous said...

I actually bought an iLoad at a flea market recently for $5.00. I only bought it to get the seller to drop the price on another item I really wanted. After getting it home I tried to sync it up with my mp3 player but found it to be useless. SO... I hacked it and turned it into a mini-computer running Puppy Linux. As a matter of fact, I'm typing this message on it right now.


See the iLoad isn't totally worthless, all it needed was a screwdriver, a Dremel tool and some ingenuity and Voila' an underpowered but very cheap computer ensues.

fixyourthinking said...

Wow ... no matter how bad the product - you got a good deal. $5 is worth paying for any electronic that has a slot loading optical drive.

All the unit is is a mini ITX computer - there's nothing special about it all.

I did notice their site hasn't been updated in a long time and I noticed this at the bottom:

© 2005-8 iLoad, LLC, Campbell, CA 95008, All rights reserved worldwide. Patents Pending Worldwide.

lindadix@elpasoco.com said...

If you are a victim of Mr. Schupper we would love to hear from you even if it is a while ago. 4th District Attorney's Office - 719-520-6038