Lockdown and Innovation

Edison is reputed to have once said invention is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. He was referring to the work to get a product to market. Having the invention is one thing but offering an actual product takes time, effort, and something that for most inventors is in short supply of money.

Lockdown due to Covid 19, has put lots of innovatively minded people in sheds, garages and at kitchen tables. Thus, we can expect a wave of innovations from mostly individual inventors and SMEs with respect to the problems of life such as opening jars, domestic cleaning, convenience goods etc.

Lockdown has also meant many of these problems have come to our attention. There are many ways of protecting your inspiration and your work, but some provide more confidence for investors than others.

Patents, registered trademarks, and registered designs by their nature tend to have entry requirements, such as novelty and inventive steps, and official fees – you get what you pay for! However, before you pay, most patent attorneys will provide some basic initial advice as to what the costs will be and the prospects of success/difficulties, even if this is based on an educated guess (so subject to all the usual caveats).

The best advice is to do some research yourself, show the results to an attorney and then decide as to whether to file for a patent or any other form of protection. The worst thing to do is just sell!  If the product is selling like “hot cakes”, your competitors will want a “piece of the pie” and they will not have the cost and uncertainty of working toward a finished product.  Your sales or marketing will have destroyed any patent novelty but could help with the distinctiveness of trademarks.  However, if the competitor wants to ride on your reputation, you will need a big reputation to win on the grounds of passing off.