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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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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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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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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Thinking beyond the ETO Show

We were extremely disappointed to learn of the postponement of this year’s ETO Show, which should have taken place this week. Tradeshows like these provide a great opportunity to network and take the pulse of the current marketplace. There are a number of brand new exhibitors which we were really looking forward to meeting. Never mind, let’s look forward to later in the year.

We are definitely ‘glasses half full’ kind of people and perhaps this current global situation as a result of the Covid-19 could actually pave the way for some really exciting New Product Development (NPD) in the adult toy marketplace.

Reported just this week is a growth of 13% in adult toy sales over the last fortnight as people begin a period of self isolation. The demand is there and we are certain there will be many of you out there with their heads full of new ideas for brilliant new adult toys or pleasure products.

Consider this: The current restrictions on flights, exhibitions and even possibly day to day working conditions will mean home working and time away from the office for reflection. Ask yourself, where do you want your business to be when these restrictions are lifted and how can you be ahead of the game?

Perhaps you’ve had an idea kicking around for ages but time has never allowed you to take it any further. Now is as good a time as any to take the bull by the horns and make it a reality!

This is where Sated Design can help you.

Our design process methods can get you to the point of manufacture so you are poised and ready to hit “GO” once the manufacturing industry is showing signs of recovery. We have a comprehensive range of in-house capabilities including 3D printing, CNC machining, model making and silicone casting, meaning that all prototyping can be done right here in our office. We are able to use CAD to create parts and assemblies ready to provide to manufacturers for quotation and production.

We don’t even need to physically meet up either. Our remote conferencing facilities mean we can discuss projects virtually and do on screen reviews.

Pre-planning will make the difference when it comes to securing the future of your business. If you have a great idea and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today.

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In-house 3D Printing

Nowadays pretty much everyone has heard of 3D printing. As a primary tool for designers 3D printers can produce a real life object for handling and use. 3D printing has enabled us, here at Sated Design, to streamline our design methodology which vastly improves turnaround timings. Thanks to our in-house 3D printing capabilities we can usually build and handle physical parts that same day. This saves days over traditional modelmaking and subcontract bureau services and improves the quality of decisions made during the design process.

To the outside world, 3D printed parts are often a huge disappointment for many users. It should be borne in mind that the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ and ‘horses for courses’ are particularly true.

Users of 3D printing need the right know-how. Robust parts and high-quality parts can be made if the right materials and processing are used. We have taken 3D printing a step further and often use 3D printing to produce specially made tools and jigs to assist our design processes and also that of our clients. Examples of this are bespoke jigs and fixtures produced to precisely and accurately make modifications to parts or assemble. We have also specified 3D printed parts as a small batch manufacturing method for complex structural parts which would otherwise have required expensive mould tooling and involved considerable delays.

While 3D printing is now available to the mass market, it still takes a level of expertise to know how to process a part to be appropriate for printing. Key factors need to be understood in preparation for 3D printing such as print time, material volume, temperature control, orientation of the print and the nesting of items. It can be very tempting for inexperienced innovators to purchase their own printer in a bid to visualise their own products. This may at first seem to be the cheaper route for some, however, without the experience and the understanding of the amount of variables involved in producing a high quality 3D print, it is a much safer and cost effective option to leave this to the professionals. Our designers have the “know-how” to get the best from each print run and ensure each part is representative of the intended design.

If you need assistance with 3D modelling and printing, contact us today to discuss your requirements. As a full service agency, we can step in at any stage of your project to suit your needs.

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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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Consumers are calling for an Eco Friendly sex life

The causes of climate change are a consideration for New Product Design and Development in every industry. Seemingly one industry that needs to pay attention is the adult toy industry. The majority of adult toys are made with polymers and many use disposable batteries. Most importantly, consumers can’t (or don’t want to?) easily recycle an adult toy and so they sit in drawers for years before discretely going into landfill wrapped against inquisitive eyes. All of which contributes towards the 45 million metric tonnes of electronic waste the world produces every year.

In actual fact adult toys made from sustainable materials such as wood and glass have been in the marketplace for many years. It is fair to say that adult toys made of wood and stone predate history. If the climate goes the way many are predicting your next adult toy might just have to be carved out of a bit of wood as you sit in a cave! To avert that, an increasing number of consumers are making an effort to prevent more damage to our planet by demanding environmentally friendly products.

The adult toy industry has seen a huge growth in recent years as adult toys become more widely acknowledged as products contributing to health and well-being. In the press recently has come news that large retailers such as Sainsburys and Boots are now stocking a number of “top shelf” adult toys. At the same time, consumers are demanding ethically manufactured products. We at Sated Design therefore expect to see the adult toy market shift towards a more ethical manufacturing base and we predict new companies will come into the marketplace to exploit their know how in those areas and capitalise on the opportunity. Established manufacturers need to make sure they are not caught napping.

Consumers will demand provenance for claims made about any products that claim to be eco-friendly and ethically manufactured. Allied to this will be consumer expectation that products must still deliver the highest quality and performance. We think these will be challenging times especially when social media picks its heroes and its villains.

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

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The Importance of Continuous Testing

Testing a product concept during all stages of its development is an important part of the design process. Prototypes, mock-ups and test rigs, or whatever you wish to call them, enable the design team to evaluate every aspect of a product. Using feedback derived from tests the design team create great products which delight the user and make healthy profits for the manufacturing and distributing chain.

Here at Sated Design our approach to the development of adult toys makes use of many different types of prototypes and each prototype brings its own benefits to the end design. At the end of the development process the design team and the client can be confident that the final product is indeed fit for purpose. Prototypes are generally made in house in our model shop although we will use external suppliers for specialist parts.

Good visual imagery is an important part of any design process as it is an effective way of showing what the final outcome will potentially look like. 2D images have their place; they are great for visualisation but are unable to portray some of the important details; for example the weight and feel of the product. Accurate prototypes that are faithful to the intended appearance and feel of the final design are extremely useful in marketing discussions and for pre-launch media. We have lost count of the number of occasions when a prototype has been photographed before a production piece has been available. That is not poor time planning, it is in fact the opposite and a necessity when rapid design techniques have to bring together marketing/promotion during the run up to a launch or exhibition.

Good user experience is a vital part of any adult toy. The whole experience of receiving the item, opening the packaging and switching the toy on are very important but they are the aperitif for the main course. If the toy does not ‘work’ then it is just a big let-down and that has to be avoided at all costs. Working prototypes are a vital part of getting this right in the product development. An example of how this process can work came about very recently when our model makers made a silicone prototype of a new vibrator. This was sent out for user testing and the feedback suggested that the sensations could be improved by thickening a certain part of the shaft profile. A second prototype was quickly prepared and once again sent out to the same person for testing. Within days we received positive feedback. This simple, quick and low costs exercise gave the client the confidence to immediately go forward to the next stage of development and the tester kept the prototype!

Some prototypes are quite mundane but they still serve a vital role in improving the assembly and cost effective manufacture of a product. It is not uncommon for our design team to prepare several 3D printed prototypes to evaluate wiring, motor mounting, jigging/fixtures and resolving fine details of switches and connectors to ensure that no detail is ignored.

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

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