Design Company Learning from Experiences Register Patents to Ensure Profits
"To sustain your company’s development, it is crucial to protect intellectual property rights of an innovative idea," said by Innosphere Ltd. Business Development Manager Steve Yeung. It is an emotional statement as his company has designed a small earphone hub before, although it was so popular from the start, they did not aware the importance of intellectual property, and they frequently encounter intellectual property-related problems, at last, it does not sell as well as the company could have hoped for. Recently, they have learnt from their past experiences, and they register patents for their new products in both Hong Kong and Mainland China to pave way for the company’s long-term development.
Innosphere Co., Ltd. was established by the 2007, the main products are silicon material gifts for corporations, they have created more than 50 types of products. According to Yeung, the company has launched their new product of small donut-shaped earphone hub, and received 500,000 early orders. However, they ignored the importance of registering patents that they did not add some special features that can apply for patents, as a result, their products are always copied by competitors.
He stated that, the company learnt from their mistakes, and whenever they launch new products including bookmarks and eco memo pad, they will register for the utility model patent in Mainland China to protect their key features including the product shape and structure.
With patents, Innosphere still needs to step up inspections. He said that, during the exhibition, they will arrange colleagues at the exhibition venue to look around, on one hand they have to understand the market trends; on the other hand they are searching if there is any infringing products from other exhibitors. "In recent months, we have participated an exhibition and found that a mainland exhibitors displays similar products, at first we doubt whether they are one of our distributors, but at a closer look we realized that there is no registered patent features at the bottom of the product, then we walked in the counter, and state that we are the patent holders by providing document proofs through lawyers. If they are still exhibiting the products, we will record down their infringement actions and to sue them in future. At last, they backed down and never displayed the products anymore.” He also stated that the market is highly competitive, unless they are paying extra efforts on protecting their own intellectual property, or their creative efforts would be in vain.
The company is expected to launch another patented product in late 2012, which are gifts that utilize the imaging decoration techniques. They created multiple convex dots on silicon, when the dots are filled in with different colors, different images are displayed instead of by silk screen or creating new molds. Innosphere Design Manager Maurice Kwok said they have consulted the views of intellectual property lawyers during the design process, and took the lead to register patents before the exhibition in China and Hong Kong, “At first we do not understand the importance of patents, and we could not fight against infringement. Therefore, we have to be protected by intellectual property for the company to continue develop and consolidate our profits”.
He mentioned, as a SME with limited resources, it is difficult for all products in all markets to apply for design patents; therefore we can try to encourage buyers to recognize the company's Siliconcept brand by enhancing our brand recognition to let consumers know our products are genuine. At the same time, we will report to the Customs for record to reduce possibility to be copied; Companies also increase the complexity of the product, which increase the difficulty of plagiarism, for example, for the silicone lanyard for digital cameras, the production process is rather complicated. "In addition, the company designs a silicon control stick for i-Phone, users simply attach their silicon stick on the screen, and they are able to you can control front, back, left and right with the control stick on specific games, this product uses special materials, and it is difficult for outsiders to plagiarise. "
Apart from the protection of their own intellectual property rights, he said, on the other hand, the company also buys famous brand authorization through intellectual property transactions to broaden their customer base; The company has obtained the Hong Kong and Macau authorization of the famous Japanese anime "Kamen Rider", and with the company's silicone lanyard for digital cameras, hoping that by combining their own creativity and the brand superiority of “Kamen Rider”, they are able to increase their product prices and make the product more easily acceptable by the market.
He pointed out that as SMEs which do not have sufficient resources to build up their own brand characters, utilizing brand authorization through intellectual property transactions can quickly increase their consumer group; More importantly, Hong Kong has different intellectual intermediaries including professional advisors, intellectual property lawyers, agents and other brands, intellectual property transactions performed extremely convenient. At that time, they contacted “Kamen Rider’s” agent of Hong Kong, and provided them their proposals, which saves a lot of consultations time to negotiate with foreign brand owners.
Innosphere was one of the graduates of the Hong Kong Science Park’s Incu-Design project, and the founders were all product designers, and have been actively exploring their own creative brand. Kwok mentioned that Hong Kong has a lot of design talent, but often because of the lack of resources to protect their own patents, making their creative ideas down the drain. He hoped that the Government Innovation and Technology Fund can extend to patent designs, so more people will benefit from the scheme.
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