Avoiding DIY Patents

The adult toy industry is notorious for unscrupulously copying great ideas. Both securing effective Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) and taking swift and aggressive action to stomp out copy cats are both crucial to maintaining your competitive edge. IPP legally identifies you as the originator and owner of your idea and gives you exclusive rights to exploit it so it is absolutely critical to your business.

There are a number of ways to protect the intellectual property of your idea. It is recommended that you speak to an IPP expert such as a patent attorney at the right time to select the best forms of protection for your product.

There are many free patent databases that you can use to carry out your own searching, but professional patent searchers and patent attorneys who specialise in such services will almost inevitably find documents that are more relevant than those found by a novice searcher.

A DIY patent is not the best approach and can do more harm than good. It is so important to seek expert legal advice!

Here at Sated Design, many of our clients initially reached out to us because we work so closely with a firm of leading Intellectual Property specialists in our network and are therefore familiar with their methods and requirements. We work with these specialists to protect the IP of your sex toy invention idea by providing descriptions of claims and supporting illustrations of any new IP created. In addition to providing you with reassurance, this may also reduce search and filing fees significantly.

Releasing details of your idea into the public domain without protection may jeopardise the chances of your IPP applications being granted, giving your competitors an opportunity to get the idea to market before you. Our top tip is that if you need to discuss your idea with anyone, such as a supplier, use a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) document to ensure that all parties regard the discussions as confidential.

If you’ve got a new pleasure product idea and require assistance taking it to the point of manufacture, we can provide help at any step of the way.

Contact us today.

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Innovate UK Smart Grants

For many the coronavirus pandemic is becoming a catalyst for change, whether it be personal or work related. The phrase “new normal” now resonates on a global scale. For the critics, potentially our “new world” means mass unemployment, recession and a crippled economy. As a result of the lockdown many businesses are facing financial challenges as they head into the final quarter of 2020. New Product Development seems to appear way down on the priority list for a lot of companies, however investing now in the early stages of designing a new product will actually help you be ahead of the game once we regain some global stability.

There are financial lifelines available from the Government to encourage and assist you with this in the forms of kickstart grants and (what we focus on in this article) a new round of Innovate UK Smart Grants.

The latest round of Innovate UK Smart Grants, launched last month, closes at 11am on the 25th November and businesses of any size can apply for a slice of £25 million. This open UK grant funding programme has a specific purpose of supporting game changing ideas to develop new products that have significant global market potential. Applications are welcomed for NPD across all sectors including Sextech, where this industry is reportedly worth over $30 billion and estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 30%.

To be in with a chance of winning a grant, the key to your application is to demonstrate you have clearly considered your new product’s innovation, global market potential and the target customer’s needs. This is where utilising a Product Design Consultancy like Sated Design could be the key to your success.

We can assist with a feasibility study which will demonstrate to the judges that you have determined whether your NPD is do-able. We can undertake a risk assessment which will demonstrate that you have considered the end user of the new product. We can also assist you with completing your application for smart funding and if successful, most excitingly, we can help you make your ideas a reality, taking your product idea to the point of manufacture when it becomes a market ready product!

Our services can be tailored to suit your needs – we are well adapted to itemise our service and can step in and out at any stage. In our online portfolio you will find an extensive list of successful pleasure products we have helped bring to market. We have completed many projects over the last decade – some of which have gone on to win coveted industry awards – and our skills, experience and expertise are invaluable.

Contact us today and let us satisfy your needs for quality, innovation and great product design.

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Crowdfunding

In last week’s article, we focused on the difficulties of attracting investment if you are a private inventor. As we demonstrated, a certain amount of time, resource and capital has to be undertaken before any investor would even begin to take a pitch from you seriously. As a result of this, many small start-ups are seeking alternative ways to bring a product idea to life.

One new approach that’s been steadily growing in popularity is crowdfunding. Through the emergence of websites like Crowdcube and Seedrs ,crowdfunding is revolutionising the way businesses and projects are being funded, allowing small start-ups to use the power of the internet, social media and engagement to recruit and raise funds through a large number of small investors or lenders.

Nowadays, crowdfunding sites are heavily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) making them a safer proposition to many new investors who might have been discouraged by the risks in the past. There are also notable tax relief benefits of up to 50% available to investors through Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS), making crowdfunding investments very attractive and potentially lucrative. Within crowdfunding itself, there are three models for raising funds which are equity-based, loan based and reward based, allowing a lot of flexibility to the start-up and the investor.

For private inventors, crowdfunding is seemingly a great way of getting traction for your idea and delivering your finished product into the hands of your target market. The flexibility of crowdfunding means that it is possible for private inventors to recruit more than just financial investment in the form of hard cash. For example, some “investors” with design or technology expertise will offer time in kind and lend valuable advice if the inventor was to run in to a hitch involving something such as manufacturing during the product development stage.

However, the golden rule of any New Product Development (NPD) is to protect your idea with intellectual property. With crowdfunding it would be easy to fall foul of the copy cats so the trick is to provide enough information to entice the investors, but not to divulge so much that it puts your product in jeopardy before it’s even entered the marketplace.

Crucial to this is ensuring you have developed a robust intellectual property strategy. You should make sure that you’ve filed all necessary patent, design and/or trademark applications before you go public on a crowdfunding site. It is also crucial that you have worked out your timings, to make sure that you have enough funding to see you through the various stages in intellectual property filings and product development. If you postpone developing an IP strategy, patent protection (for example) is unavailable and you run the risk of losing the rights to your own invention.

You also must know the exact detail and terms of your product offering, even if this means delaying going public until all the details have been ironed out. It is easy to get whipped up in the excitement of the moment but it’s important to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Seeking advice from an IP Attorney and having supporting illustrations for your new product provided by an experience Product Designer will help to secure your legal position.

The expertise of a Pleasure Product Design Consultancy like Sated Design could be a clever move during the early stages of your New Product Development (NPD), however as a full service agency we can step in at any time up to the point of manufacture to assist you on your journey. Contact us today.

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Private Inventor home truths

At some stage or another many of us will have an idea for a new product; a product which we believe will become the next great invention. This is very exciting but it is easy to be swept up in the excitement of being a private inventor and to count those chickens before they hatch.

Over the years we have talked to many private inventors and we always dread the calls from those inventors who have spent their precious resources only to end up with artistic CAD drawings of their product and a big cost milestone in their patent application. Sadly, this type of call often comes at a time when the private inventor has run out of money, out of time to secure investment and now face losing the exclusive rights to their own invention.

How does this happen?

Many private inventors cannot fund the entire process of bringing a product to the market and they require investment. Investment is not easy to secure. There are some companies who offer ‘help’ to private inventors by offering artistic CAD drawings and a patent application. The danger is to think that having a pretty picture with a patent application will be enough to get an investor on board. Is this really enough? An investor is looking at investment as a business risk; so they need to be convinced that their risk is manageable and there will be enough reward in taking that risk. So, what does an investor really look for when making their decision to invest?

• The investor will undertake due diligence using their own professional IP resource to establish if the intellectual property the inventor has is adequate (relevant, robust, defendable) and is worth maintaining.

• The investor will want properly researched and presented facts and figures to demonstrate the size of the potential market for the invention, and its competitive landscape. This will include a competitor’s analysis and a patent landscape, ideally with a freedom to operate analysis.

• The investor will want to know the costs of developing the invention into a manufactured product. Development can involve considerable expenditure in prototypes, tooling, testing, compliance and approvals.

• The investor will want to know costs of branding, packaging, marketing, stock holding and distribution.

To put it simply, investors need to be presented with a properly designed and costed product supported by robust intellectual property.

At Sated Design we have a team of design and engineering experts who all share a passion for creating successful products. We are supported by Chartered UK Patent Attorneys from world class intellectual property firms. Our track record is proven by hundreds of products and thousands of component parts taken from the first sketch all the way through to manufacturing, sometimes in their millions.

If you have an idea for a great new pleasure product, contact us today.

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R&D Tax relief for Sex Tech. Do you qualify?

Growth in Research & Development (R&D) tax relief claims totalled over £4bn last year. Introduced by the Government in 2001, the purpose of R&D tax relief is to offer tax credit benefits to those businesses who develop scientific and technological innovation across many industry sectors here in the UK. Reportedly to date, £26bn has been returned in tax relief to businesses across the nation and yet according to industry specialists the scheme is yet to be fully utilised.

Were you aware that Sex Tech is a key area where R&D claims are currently not being taken advantage of?

Without a doubt, Sex Tech is consistently producing pioneering work that would easily qualify under the R&D tax relief framework. Whether it is a new technology, stimulation technique, material or even the way these products are made, any and all new advancements tend to be leading innovation in the sector.
Presently the amount of Sex Tech companies applying for R&D is staggering low. This leads us to ask, is that because Sex Tech is either ignored or seen as too much of a taboo? Or is the onus on companies like you who might not even realise that you qualify?

In short, any UK limited company that is spending money on developing new products, or enhancing existing ones is eligible. Even if you’re not sure if your new product is possible, or you don’t know how to achieve it in practice, you could be resolving technological uncertainties and therefore be carrying out qualifying R&D.

The important thing to remember is that the Government’s accepted R&D definition doesn’t have to have been successful to qualify. If your project is ultimately unsuccessful but sought a solution, it could still be R&D. It is worth asking your accountant to look into this for you but you can also look for advice from HMRC and specialist tax advisers if your accountant is not 100% certain.

For more about R&D Relief click here.

If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, we will assist you through your journey. Our services can include trend spotting and feasibility of a new adult toy product, ergonomic studies and reverse engineering which could all be attributed to R&D. Although we do not fund projects here at Sated Design, we have a comprehensive directory of business angels and companies who regularly invest in new businesses who wish to develop their products.

Contact us today and learn more about our services and how we can help.

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Chinese New Year – The Year of the Pig

Planning around the Year of the Pig

On the week of February 5th in the UK, hundreds of thousands of people of all nationalities, will welcome the Year of the Pig which will be celebrated with the ringing of bells, the lighting of firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances. No doubt plenty of Chinese culinary delights will be consumed and plenty of elaborate displays watched.

In China these festivities will continue long after the weekend, fifteen days to be precise! Fifteen days when factories close and all manufacturing processes stop for the full duration of this holiday period. Some factories will close for even longer to allow for their workers to travel the huge distances to return to their home towns and villages. It is not unusual for workers to travel for several days to see family and friends they may not have seen for almost a year. The Chinese New year, or Spring Festival is therefore very important throughout China and much of South East Asia; of significant global importance, it is very much intertwined with the UKs business culture and it’s planning.

Whilst lead times are important to a project whatever the time of year, planning and scheduling are of upmost importance when Chinese New Year falls during the production process. The effect this can have on a project’s lead time could cause significant delay and ramifications if not borne in mind at the onset. It can be quite a task to co-ordinate between different regions when moving tools and goods to arrive within a production window. Experience of working with domestic and offshore manufacturers and suppliers coupled with experience of the differing cultures and practices of quite a few countries certainly helps to minimise any delays in production.

At Hillside Product Design, when planning a project, we always make sure to advise our clients of the implications of any decision to work with an offshore supplier. Accurate information derived from extensive past experience and used in conjunction with time compression technologies, proven fast track suppliers and savvy short cuts can deliver a complex project in record times and within tight budgets.

This year has been very busy with several shipments of tools being signed off and we are experiencing a comfortable period of calm and giving ourselves a part on the back. Congratulations and prosperity to our friends in China and we look forward to doing it all again next year.

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Are There Advantages of Outsourcing Your Design Requirements?

Here we look at why it may be the better option rather than building your own in-house team of designers.

Experience:
Consultancies deal with a wide range of products across a variety of markets, giving them a greater breadth and depth of skill and knowledge. This knowledge helps to fast track ideas to becoming a reality, whereas working within your own confines can potentially take much longer, especially if it is proving difficult to know where to begin.

Working with many projects and different clients, here at Sated Design we can cross pollinate insights and knowledge gained from a host of different varying projects. Our depth of experience coupled with your knowledge results in original thoughts which develop into original products that standout not just in terms of aesthetics but also in functionality.

Cost:
Hiring external design services at first glance may seem expensive, but in the long run will prove to be cost effective. By paying for design services only when you need them, this not only saves on the cost of salaries but also all of the other extra expenses such as software-licences, workstations, prototypes and testing equipment.

Design consultancies not only help to save time and money by designing your product but also help you save when it comes to manufacturing. By using your design-house’s suppliers, you will be able to receive competitive quotations and manufacturing experience, which is not easy to find on your own.

Flexibility:
Designing might not be your full time job, it may be your hobby therefore you may not have sufficient time to focus on achieving your goals for your project. Seeking external design expertise will help you prioritise the workload or assist you at critical phases of the design process. It is always a good idea to seek help or even advice during the development of your product. Any delays in launching products or missing a design opportunity can end up costing you far more than the cost of hiring external help.

Conclusion:
By helping you to refine your ideas to a good product for your intended market and ensuring that the end result can be manufactured we may just save you time, money and a catalogue of unexpected challenges.

If you need something designing, or to compliment your current design capabilities, or even just a fresh perspective on a project, please contact us here at Sated Design.

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Is my product idea feasible? Part 1

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What is a feasibility study?

In product development, a feasibility study asks whether or not your project is do-able. It should be conducted at the outset of a project against the background context of the business, and it takes into account all factors likely to have an impact, including economic, technical, legal and scheduling aspects.

Will the project achieve the desired effect within the set budget and timeframe? Can you adequately fund the project? Do you have the technical resources to transform your project into reality or will you need to outsource? Will there be any legal considerations or conflicts that arise from your project? Can you achieve your goals within the specified deadlines?

These answers and many others allow business leaders to decide if there is enough potential for the project to succeed or that it is worth allocating resources towards pursuing it further.

1) Prepare – Where Do I Start?

To make the best use of a feasibility study, you should collect together all of the relevant information you have relating to the project. Each project will be different but the following should be considered:

– Costings and budget
– Material preferences
– Target market
– Anticipated life cycle of the product
– Aesthetics & Styling
– Pre-existing or problematic Intellectual Property (IP)
– Funding and investment
– Technological requirements
– Legal requirements and standards
– Milestones and deadlines

2) Visualising Your Product

In most cases, visual images of a product are one of the quickest ways to get feedback from interested parties, collaborators, stakeholders, and users. Most projects will require some form of visual material to communicate ideas effectively. A picture tells a thousand words and Sated Design can help you to tell the best story.

Mood boards, hand-drawn sketches, shaded industrial design illustrations and 3D CGI renders are all examples of visual presentation techniques. The number of images and the techniques used to communicate ideas will vary dependant on time, budget, intended use, and the complexity of the subject.

Coming up in Part 2 – Understanding Standards, Manufacture and Assembly, and Running the Numbers – Preliminary Costings.

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