Build a Better Mousetrap 3Cs Community Meeting
….and the world will beat a path to your door, maybe. But there are plenty out there who would rather steal it from behind your back or from under your feet. Some are proper crooks while others may feel aggrieved that it was their idea anyway and if you haven’t checked properly, they may be correct. Ideas can even be discovered by more than one person independently where in science, the best known is probably the discovery/invention of calculus by Newton and Leibnitz – a dispute which lasted decades.
Idea protection comes in 5 main headings: Patents, Designs, Trademarks, Copyright and Trade Secrets. Sometimes there is more than one choice e.g. it a really new invention or just a better design? and taking the right route can be crucial.
Hosting the 3Cs Community meeting this time is Marks and Clerk, a world wide patent attorney firm with offices in Covent Garden. A few very basic points from Partner, Dr Rhian Granleese’s 40 minute presentation:
- Patents last up to 20 years and give you a territorial right protecting your invention. This right stops others using it but does not give you the right to use it. Each patent covers ONE country – there are international patent applications, but not international patents.
- Products, devices machines, processes and methods can be patented. They must be “novel” and capable of industrial application. Can software be patented – maybe.
- Designs protect the appearance of product rather than what is inside it
- Trademarks identify your business and do not expire provided they are kept in use. The trademark can be a shape e.g. Toblerone, the name and design e.g. MINI or just the slogan like Nike’s Just Do It.
- If you do not check properly, you may have to change your trademark which is expensive and can make you look unprofessional
- No system for registering Copyright in the UK, so keep proper records i.e. Prove It! Copyright can cover computer programmes, flow diagrams, design drawings and databases
- Trade Secrets can provide real protection but is it really possible to keep know-how secret once your product is out in the market?
Like the old military maxim about an hour’s reconnaissance saving 3 times as much later on, a preliminary meeting with a Patent Attorney can save you time and money. The Attorney can also do research to see what is out there already.
Of the presentations, best by far and easy winner of the vote at the end of the meeting, was from Doordeck which provides hardware and software to premises. CEO and Co-founder William Bainborough has 15 years experience in “access control” where new technology enables the job to be done for less money and more reliably. In an building with 75 doors for example, conventional access costs would be over £90,000 a year whereas Doordeck could do the same job for just over £30,000. Nice to know too that someone is keeping British manufacturing alive, as their hardware is made in Croydon rather than imported from China.
Aquaponics presentation seemed to harbour a good idea which was not presented clearly, not least the difference between hydroponics and their idea. The former is growing your tomatoes for example, in a soilless environment while Aquaponics uses fish pooh as the extra ingredient in the growth cycle to boost productivity by 3 or 4x compared to standard farming methods. What do you feed the fish on? someone asked. Aquaponics also joined 3Cs small but exclusive nul points club where no one thought the idea was good enough to invest in.
Cocoon London is addressing the issue of waste in the cosmetics industry where only 14 per cent of packaging is recycled. Since cosmetics is a form of packaging, perhaps we should not be surprised here, but good to know someone is trying to tackle it.
Organiser Colin Spiller (email@example.com) has one slot available for this meeting.