Kin, who runs his own company, Inclusive Innovations Ltd., began by talking about the general aims of most inventors and how they might protect their intellectual property rights – possibly by using a confidentiality agreement (NDA, CDA) or a patent, or both. Using a UK patent he filed on one of his own inventions – the iiCap – as a case study, he described in detail the process of putting together a patent application.
A patent consists of four sections: the abstract – a brief overview of the invention; the description – a full disclosure of the invention with examples; drawings – showing different variations where required; and the claims – the most important part of the patent which lists the inventive features of the product.
He showed his application and how he had written it. He had applied himself without using the services of a patent attorney. Once the official search had been carried out by the examiners at the UK Intellectual Property Office they sent their search report to Kin indicating the likelihood of his patent being granted. It did not look good. They had found several patents already in existence which implied that his invention was not new. The report also indicated that Kin’s description did not make clear the essential features of the invention, while there was a lack of consistency in the language used and some phrases like “a number” and “such as” were regarded as too vague. A patent is a legal documents and correct usage of language and structure is vital.
Kin felt that his chances of having the patent granted were rather small, but he took it to a patent attorney who felt that all was not lost. The attorney then responded to the examiner’s report on Kin’s behalf. He took each point which the examiner had made and argued in Kin’s favour. The patent was subsequently granted. Kin had also filed an international patent which had run into similar problems with the Chinese Patent Office. Their examiner initially indicated that the invention was not new – until the patent attorney responded in full and the patent was granted in China. He also had a UK trade mark registered to protect his logo.
So in Kin’s view, it is important not to be immediately put off if the initial search is negative, but to be realistic when viewing the prior art. It may be that your invention is not new. If things are looking good and you intend to patent internationally make sure that you select your territorial protection strategically. It may not be financially feasible to cover all the countries you would like. Where are your main markets?
As Kin’s experience showed, it is also vital to ensure that you get the right advice and guidance as he did when using his patent attorney.
Having gained his patents Kin then looked to ways of trying to raise funding for the product and publicise it. He appeared briefly on Dragons Den twice – the first time to promote the development of a reminder smart card to reduce the missed appointment rate, and the second time with the iiCap for Sports Relief. So far the only person to have appeared on Dragons' Den for two different products!
He realised that he needed a professional prototype and product and packaging design to get it to market. Very often it is through this that you learn of problems – perhaps difficulties with different materials, sizes etc. The iiClip, one of Kin’s subsequent inventions, is quite small and may look easy to produce, but in fact a lot of engineering was needed to bring it to fruition. In order to gain the necessary skills / facilities it is often a good idea to bring in business partners but he felt it was best to avoid joint intellectual property where possible.
He then described some of the other products which Inclusive Innovations is developing and concluded with two famous products which exemplify how long the process of developing a new product can take: It took Thomas Eddison two years and two thousand prototypes to develop his light bulb filament. Charles Goodyear stumbled on a method of vulcanising rubber nine years after starting work on the problem.
*update* july 2011 Production stock of iiclip has finally been completed, with a launch date in mid July 2011.available at http://www.iiclip.co.uk/
|Kin introduced some new friends|