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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The truth about micro plastics

“Snowing plastic” in the Arctic; Microplastic pollution near to the summit of Wales’s highest mountain. Plastic Pollution may have been a topic of discussion for some time but the full extent of its impact on the environment needs urgent action to understand and mitigate.

According to a recent article, in Europe alone, approximately 42,000 tonnes of intentionally added microplastics are released into the environment annually. Finding this material in remote locations such as the ones mentioned above is deeply concerning.

The European Commission believed they had the answer in preparing to introduce a ban on the use of microplastics in cosmetics, detergents and paint products produced and sold in the EU. However, there is now a fear that the result of this ban will be a swap for even smaller nano plastic material that could potentially be more toxic and more harmful.

This news is incredibly frustrating. Micro plastics have been found in almost all environments that have been investigated worldwide so this problem is very real and isn’t going to go away. It appears that currently, finding a true solution is hampered by a documented “significant knowledge gap”. If this is the case, how can a way forward be found?

For those of us in an industry which works with plastic every day, it is imperative that we try to act positively to improve the use and reduce the burden of unwanted plastic. We need a clear plan of action from our government, which is based on a collective, well informed opinion that spans the globe. It is irresponsible to make recommendations that have not been fully risk assessed by agencies who have the knowledge to successfully carry these out.

The fact that plastic material is being found in the remotest parts of our world means that time is of the essence and we need that solution now.

We are a full service agency who are very conscious of the part we play in tackling the environmental costs of launching new products. If you are likeminded and would like a little help through the journey of making your pleasure product a desirable reality, get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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How we conquer the “waste mountain”

A recent report carried out by Material Focus resulted in some astounding and deeply concerning statistics. UK households and businesses alone produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste a year and un-recycled household electricals cost over £370m a year in lost materials like gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Imagine this on a global scale and you get a stark picture of just how much of a problem mounting electronic waste is. Why?

Because mining metals causes pollution and impacts weightily on climate change. Toxic materials ending up in landfill leach into water courses, soil and air and become a huge long-term problem in the environment.

The recent coronavirus pandemic is in the process of kick starting a global recession. History has shown us that during these times of hardship in the past, consumers have been encouraged to spend, spend, spend and get the economy going again.

But considering this research, we ask is that really the right or the responsible approach?

We don’t need more of the same old stuff!

In reality, what we need is the ability to buy products that are made with reclaimed material and more easily repairable in the first instance, but failing that, are made easier to recycle at the end of their life. As consumers we have a right to consume, but also a duty to be considerate consumers and effective recyclers.

There are ways that help could be at hand here. Supporting local repair services and repair cafes will assist in tackling the mounting issue of global e-waste. Imagine if those forced into unemployment during the pandemic could upskill and utilise government apprenticeship schemes to learn how products work with a view of offering a fixing service to the product users. This kind of scenario would encourage employment and tackle the issue of e-waste head on.

Manufacturers could play their part and keep stock of spare parts, making these readily available to the ‘fixers’. Designers too have their part to play by creating new products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and intuitiveness to fix.

It might all sound rather idealistic but with so many points of intervention in the materials economy, if we all take a moment to unite and look at the part we play in it, we can see where we can be a part of the solution too.

Out of sight, out of mind is not a way to deal with this problem. The coronavirus outbreak has created its fair share of tragedy but we can also see it as a catalyst for positive change and a vital opportunity to reset our relationship with our planet.

Do you have an idea for a new adult pleasure product? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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Sated Design welcomes a business boom during lockdown

With the UK reportedly heading for a recession, there’s one industry that appears to be bucking the trend. Sales of sex toys went through the roof during lockdown and job retention schemes have provided many with time and space to take stock and make plans for the future.

These two factors have meant business is booming for one Devon-based company that specialises in designing adult toys and pleasure products for manufacture.

Sated Design have been assisting adult sex toy companies develop quality and innovative products for over a decade, many of which have gone on to win coveted industry awards. Their list of clients range from large international companies, SMEs and lone private inventors.

The team is headed by Director Chris Howsam who has an extensive career in product design spanning 35 years. Operating from his office in Teignmouth, Chris and his team of designers offer a range of services to those looking to develop the next best sex toy product.

Chris explains “what we do at Sated is quite unique. A sex toy has an intimate and personal context that makes them unique to each user. The designer has to be tuned in to the unique ergonomic and psychological aspects of a sex toy and the way in which the user interacts with it. For every new innovation in our lives there will be someone thinking about adapting it into a sex toy!”

He continues “since lockdown in March, we’ve seen an increase in enquiries from lone private inventors with an idea for a new product. We’ve also had enquiries from companies who have a product range already but used their time in lockdown to review what they offer. Coupled with this has been an increase in web traffic to our site sateddesign.com which is up 30% for the same period last year”.

There have been some outstanding innovations over the past years. Products are now more stylish, safer, cleaner and easier to care for then ever before. This has resulted in increased sales globally. Sated Design have been at the forefront of these changes, often pushing the boundaries with complex mechanical design and aesthetic styling.

Chris is often asked what advice he would give to an aspiring inventor, starting out in the world of sex toy design.

His response is always “Keep an eye on the latest advances in manufacturing, electronics, materials, and trends because all of these can be the catalyst for great ideas for sex toys. Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to try things because if you want to improve people’s well-being and enjoyment of life through sex toys you design then you might learn a few things for yourself along the way.”

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Human testing vs Artificial Intelligence

Last week Sated’s team read on social media of a new algorithm, developed to validate a female orgasm. The company behind it claimed that by using research data based on changes in heart rate, the software could help sex tech developers test their products.

So we ask do we really need this?

Let’s consider how a tea or coffee producer uses human tasters to help them refine a blend. That is because human reaction provides the “wow data” companies are looking for to make informed choices about how to bring the best possible products in to the market.

For Sex toy manufacturers, there are many elements to testing an adult toy – the orgasm is only one of these metrics.  The majority of manufacturers rely on experienced human testers who provide the best and most informed feedback on perhaps one of the hardest to describe human experiences.

Let’s be clear. We don’t doubt the science behind algorithms, or their place in a modern world consistently searching for answers through Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, there’s little assurance in our minds that digital data can make our team of sex toy testers redundant any time soon.

Do you have an idea for a new adult pleasure product? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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Living in the new normal

The way we live and the way we go about our work, day to day has slowly eroded the quality of life for many and undeniably had a negative impact on the environment. In our last news article we touched on what a post-lockdown world could be like if everyone takes the time now to consider where their priorities should lie both at a personal and at a professional level.

After much discussion between all of us this is how we have embraced the new normal. The biggest change for us has been the relocation of some of our staff as a result of social distancing measures. There were some teething issues to do with the UKs inability to balance upload and download speeds in rural areas but we soon had everyone adapting to a new way of working.

In the office we have made changes including staggered breaktimes, availability of PPE and become more aware of not gathering around the printers etc. For those that work from home there has been an improvement in the work/life balance and with the assistance of modern technology, it is possible to liaise between those who need to come into the office and those who can work from home to maintain what is essentially a normal working week. With clients based across the UK and overseas, we were already geared up for remote conferencing and real time on-screen CAD viewing to discuss projects so it is unlikely clients will note any difference.

We think it is important to talk about what we have done because providing guidance and support to our clients, is a large part of our work as product designers. If we can practice what we preach and show resilience as a business, offer sustainable alternatives, cost saving measures and a more beneficial way of working, we can encourage these businesses to look at their own work priorities. We hope this would inspire them to look at how they too can embrace the new normal.

What else can we learn about the new normal as product designers and how do we respond?

The designer and the client have a responsibility to be mindful of the end use of the products they collaborate to design. With many goods in shorter supply and retailers also in lockdown, many consumers have utilised their right to repair and shown great intuition to fix what they have. Unfortunately for many years the right to repair has not been something manufacturers have wanted to support and the opportunity to repair products is limited mostly by having no spare parts available. If there was a mindset to create products that are intuitive to fix this would help combat our ‘throw away society’.

Now is a great time to open discussions and champion this approach. We believe this is a crucial role for Product Designers and manufacturers to address on a global scale.

If you are about to embark on a new product development and would like more information about how you could benefit from our insight, please contact us today.

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Is there a better way?

Over the weekend a video clip was released on the BBC of a Cornwall-based artist, spending his lockdown time collecting plastic rubbish from his local beach. He had collected over 50 million pieces and his joy at doing so was evident. This is just one of many hundreds of positive stories featuring the lives of individuals and communities shared during the covid19 lockdown. Paradoxically what appears to be emerging from our time in a global quarantine is an awareness of nature and our environments and at the same time exposes the true cost of how the human race treats our planet and each other.

In Boris Johnson’s recent public address, his words resonated with a clear “carry on and get back to work” message. However, we question should we really be hurrying back to how life was before the coronavirus or actually using these unprecedented times to re-evaluate how we live and how we work and find a better way for both?

On home soil, with 20% of the UK workforce temporarily furloughed and another 45% remote working, school closures and the country essentially ‘shut down’ the undeniable ‘life pressures’ the modern day world has created have all but vanished. Many now find themselves with more time to appreciate time at home with their families and exercise in traffic-free streets. To rediscover nature in our surroundings and breathe in clearer air.

A number of employers and employees have realised, maybe for the first time, that remote and flexible working actually benefits both. That long distance commutes and business travel abroad take their toll on our free time and our planet. When faced with an inability to make these journeys, we have adapted to a new way of working, using remote technology and conferencing for the large part. There would be a strong case for investing in this type of infrastructure and implementing this into every business post-lockdown.

Maybe now is as good a time as any to ask ourselves to compare our lives 6 weeks ago to what they are now. What are we seeing? What positives can we take from this? How can we apply these to how we live and how we work going forward? Is there a better way? The good news is that being in lockdown has meant working families and both employers and employees have had the time to talk together which will lead to open discussions that will ultimately benefit all.
To be clear, the outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic won’t be positive for everybody. There will be many losses to life and to the business economy. But what it has done is provided us with the opportunity on a global scale to learn lessons and rewrite the rules of how we operate on a day to day basis both personally and professionally.

We can all create something great together if we take the time to stop and think about where our priorities lie.

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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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