Startup costs

Startup costs and considerations

Startup costs

There are many points to consider when you start a new business, some will be able to be done for nothing while others will cost money. The activities and costs can be divided int a few groups:

  • Essential operating items
  • Business building activities

Essential business formation and operating costs

operating costs

The costs will depend on the type of business you are starting and the industry you are entering. There are costs that every business owner encounters that cannot be ignored, some or all of the following may apply in your case:

  • Business formation costs
    • Business name registration
    • Domain names
    • Licences
    • Permits
    • Trade marks/designs/patents
    • Vehicles
  • Property costs
    • Rental lease cost (Rent advance/deposit)
    • Utility connections & bonds
    • Phone connection
    • Internet connection
    • Vehicle registration
  • Insurances
    • Building & contents
    • Public liability
    • Product liability
    • Professional indemnity
    • Workers compensation
    • Business assets
    • Business revenue
    • Vehicle
  • Fees
    • Legal costs
    • Accountant fees
    • Membership fees
    • Franchise fees
  • Capital costs
    • Furniture
    • Shop fitout
    • Shop fitout
    • Computer equipment
    • Phones
    • Security system
  • Operating costs
    • Computer software
    • Stock/raw materials
    • Training
    • Wages
    • Stationery & office supplies
    • Printing
    • Initial stock and raw materials
  • Marketing & advertising
    • Travel and accommodation costs
    • Market research costs
    • Website creation
    • Social media marketing
    • Print, tv and broadcast media costs
    • Signage

Hiring professional Business Advisers

Hiring professional Business Advisers

There are often times when the advice and qualifications your business requires will be beyond the skills of the people employed in your company. Hiring professionals to provide advice can be effective, however, there are many things that you should consider before you make a commitment.

  1. What you need to do first
  2. When to get business advice
  3. Types of business advisers
  4. Where to look for a business adviser
  5. What to consider when choosing a business adviser
  6. How your company will work with the business adviser

1.      What you need to do first

It is a good idea to prepare a Business Plan as the first step in identifying your goals and needs. Your Business Plan should contain a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) which will help you determine the missing requirements such as skills, professional expertise and cash requirements.

Using this information will assist in defining what type of help you need and the type of adviser that can provide support.

2.      When to get business advice

Cost and availability of funds will determine when you seek professional advice to address a particular issue in your business. Before making a commitment to engage an Adviser consider whether:

  • The skills required already exist within your team.
  • Will the advice you pay for be worth the outlay?
  • Is there a legal requirement for getting external advice?

Sources of free business advice

You may be able to obtain the advice you need from sources that you do not have to pay for. Take the time to research potential free advice from:

  • Government programmes
  • Financial institutions
  • Industry associations
  • Your personal network
  • Social media forums, case studies and free websites

3.      Types of business advisers

In the event that you decide an external professional adviser is necessary the next step is to determine which type of Adviser can address your needs. There are different types of advisers are available to help you with your financial, legal and other business needs for instance:

Accountants

Accountants can give you advice about:

  • Starting, buying and growing a business
  • Taxation requirements and returns
  • Employment obligations
  • Record management
  • Financial management

You should check that your accountant is registered with the appropriate professional association.

Business bankers

Business bankers should have a thorough understanding of your business needs and can provide advice about:

  • Online banking services
  • Business credit cards
  • Investment strategies.
  • Solutions for making and receiving payments
  • Finance and loan options
  • Industry conditions

Consultants

Consultants operate in many different fields of expertise and can provide assistance in specific areas of your business e.g.

  • Management
  • IT
  • Intellectual Property and Patents
  • Human resources
  • Sales and marketing

Financial advisers

A financial adviser can address areas that not all accountants cover including:

  • Investment strategy
  • Investment placement
  • Superannuation
  • Succession planning
  • Risk management

You should check that your financial adviser is registered with and have authorisation from the appropriate professional association.

Insurance brokers

Qualified brokers understand the insurance market and can negotiate competitive policies on your behalf. They can put together a comprehensive and cost-effective insurance package for your business.

Insurance brokers should be licensed.

Legal Advisers

Legal advisers can provide support in:

  • Creating a business structure
  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Licensing and compliance
  • Contracts and legal documents
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Dispute resolution.

Business mentors

A business mentor acts as a role model, adviser, critic and consultant. Mentoring can be informal, with friends, family or business contacts providing support and advice when it’s needed. You can also get involved with formal mentoring programs run through government or industry associations.

4.      Where to look for a business adviser

The following sources  represent places where advisers can be located:

  • Business and social networks
  • Industry associations.
  • Professional associations for:
    • Legal advisers
    • Financial advisers
    • Accountants
    • Consultants
    • Insurance brokers
    • Business bankers
    • IP attorneys
  • Other online databases

5.      What to consider when choosing a business adviser

Before choosing an adviser, you should research their background and qualifications, licences, areas of expertise and fees.

  • Check licences and qualifications and ensure they cover the advice you are seeking
  • Compare fees and services
    • Fees – Different advisers charge different fees for their services. Some will work for a fixed fee, some will work for commission, and others may charge an hourly rate. Try to validate the advisers experience and performance with previous clients, ask for references.
    • Services – are they what you need?
  • Meet with your business adviser to discuss their fees, experience and how they can help your business. Check whether you will be charged for this meeting.
  • Choosing an adviser – ask yourself the following:
    • Are they a good fit for your business?
    • Is their personality compatible with your team?
    • Did you feel comfortable discussing your business with them?
    • Did they understand your specific needs and future direction?
    • Does their availability suit your needs?
    • What are their fees?
  • If you have sensitive material that you want kept confidential is the adviser prepared to sign a Non-Disclosure-Agreement?

6.      How your company will work with the business adviser

You will be paying for your adviser’s time so make meetings efficient:

  • Always prepare for meetings by preparing a clear agenda and desired outcomes.
  • Give your advisers accurate information about your business.
  • If you have certain information that cannot be disclosed, let your adviser know.
  • Keep advisers updated about any changes to your business.

Ongoing review

If you have an ongoing relationship with a business adviser, it is worth reviewing your arrangements on a regular basis to determine:

  • Are you getting value for money?
  • Are milestones being met?
  • Are there any unresolved issues with the adviser?
  • Does my adviser still suit my business needs?

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Small Business Consultant?

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Small Business Consultant

Exact costs are going to vary depending on what skills you are seeking. Consultants with more experience to charge substantially more than someone who’s just starting out. Some typical costs for consultants are:

Type of Consulting Relevant Skills Average Hourly Rate
Marketing Digital marketing, campaign planning, market research $25-100
Accounting and Bookkeeping Auditing, accounts payable and receivable, tax preparation $30-100
HR Management Administering benefits, mediating disputes $35-175
IT Security Establishing security protocols, penetration testing $40-140

In conclusion

All businesses have costs and detailed planning will help you understand and prepare for the expense. It is likely that at some stage in the development of your business you will require expertise from outside sources and turn to consultants to provide the support. Before you engage a consultant make sure you research exactly what you need before you discuss those needs with potential professionals.

There is no substitute for a well-researched Business Plan when you are setting up a business or contracting with professional advisers.

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Entrepreneurs The Now And Then

Entrepreneurs – Then and Now

Entrepreneurs The Now And Then

My first meeting with a true entrepreneur was in 1975 when I went to work for Philip Dulhunty at his company Dulmison Pty Ltd. Philip is the type of person Indiana Jones was cast from, Born in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1924, great-grandson to Robert Velour Dulhunty, the first white settler of what was to become the city of Dubbo, New South Wales. At age six, the family moved to Port Macquarie where Dulhunty left school after completing his Form Three Intermediate Exam, no higher school tuition being available in Port Macquarie at the time.

In World War II he served as a Commando in the Australian Armed Forces in Japan, following which he was posted to the reconstruction forces stationed in Japan where in 1947 he started Dulmison Pty Ltd to exploit importing opportunities in the strictly controlled, quota and foreign exchange limited trading environment then prevailing in post-War Australia, opportunistically trading in whatever available quota presented itself (e.g. fireworks, costume jewellery, calico and case shooks),

A flying start

Philip is a keen aviator and on his return from Japan he continued with Dulmison and in 1949  established Port Macquarie Clipper flying services from Rose Bay Sydney to the northern New South Wales town of Port Macquarie in 1949, operating several Short S25 Sunderland MKIII flying boats leased from Trans Oceanic.

Good vibrations

Whilst maintaining a lifelong interest in flying Philip steered Dulmison into the power distribution components business in which it became a leading player in Australia for decades and having successfully developed a portable testing set for recording Aeolian vibrations in 1976 he created and patented the Dogbone damper which represented a significant improvement on the traditional Stockbridge damper commonly used. The design was adopted worldwide and sold in the millions.

Staying afloat

Philip had always been a keen swimmer and won the North Coast Junior Open Surf Race in 1940. Always the thinker and inventor he and a colleague, Calvin A Gongwer devised the “Aqueon”, a winged contraption configured to cause the swimmer’s legs to operate in unison, delivering power in the manner of a dolphin’s kick. He claimed it had a propulsion efficiency of 86 per cent, as compared to 25 per cent for the average swimmer. The Aqueon did not sell and by the time I met Philip there was a warehouse full of unsold units. Nothing would curb Philip’s enthusiasm and, in an attempt, to promote the Aqueon he swam across Sydney Harbour towing his wife Lenore in a dinghy but still no sales were achieved.

Under water

In 1986, Dulhunty designed the “Flook Anchor”, an automatically setting flying anchor. The device automatically adopts the correct angle on the bottom, obviating the necessity for sailors to make the often difficult estimation of depth and length of line to pay out. It was patented and sold successfully in Japan and the US.

All downhill

In the 1960’s Dulmison won a contract to install power to Perisher Valley an Australian ski resort and Philip decided to build a chair lift across the mountain to another close resort. The electrification contract went well but the chair lift venture did not as the route exposed the lift to high crosswinds, so it was closed and never reopened.

At about the same time he decided to build Australia’s first indoor ski hill and converted an old theatre for the purpose. Artificial ski slope technology was primitive to say the least and slopes in other countries were using a white mineral Baryte as the substitute for snow, however, baryte was not available in Australia and crushed blue-metal (stone) was used and lubricated with kerosene. The venture lasted one day.

The digital age – World’s first laptop

Dulmison continued to create new products and solutions in the power industry and in 1979 conceived the idea for what became the world’s fist laptop computer, the Dulmont Magnum.

Dulmont Magnum (later, Kookaburra) Laptop PC

The Dulmont Magnum went into production in 1983 and was successfully marketed both domestically and internationally by a joint venture with Tramont Ltd, a subsidiary of the Belgian National Electricity Authority, (one of Dulmison’s customers).

The Indiana Jones spirit

In 1976 Philip was a passenger on  Egypt Air Boeing 737, which was on its way from Cairo to Luxor with 96 passengers aboard, most of them Egyptians and Japanese and French tourists who wanted to visit the ancient valley of the kings and the temple at Karnak. The plane had a crew of six.

According to an Egyptian Government spokesman, the guerrillas had threatened to blow up the plane and its passengers unless five persons in jail in Cairo in connection with two assassination attempts were released.

The spokesman said that the guerrillas demanded also that the plane he flown to Benghazi, Libya. But the pilot told them he did not have enough fuel, whereupon he was allowed to land at Luxor.

There the plane was surrounded by paratroops, and the guerrillas negotiated with Egyptian officials. The Prime Minister and War Minister Mohammed Abdel Ghany el‐Gamasy flew to Luxor to take charge of the operation.

According to Egyptian officials, the plane, which had left Cairo at 7:30 A.M., was stormed in mid-afternoon by army commandos dressed as mechanics.

As the commandos entered the plane, Philip jumped out of his seat and wrestled with one of the hijackers, however, the commandos could not distinguish between the two and knocked both of them out with their rifles. A few days later Philip recovered and walked out of hospital.

A born survivor

In the early 1980’s Philip purchased Haxstead a national trust property of 400 acres on the coast south of Sydney. It had a lake and a working cattle farm. Ever the keen aviator Philip accompanied by his wife Lenore and his dog, took off in their Tiger Cub seaplane from their home on Sydney Harbour and headed for Haxstead. The Tiger Cub is a two-seater with one behind the other and a small area for luggage.

On approach to Haxstead Philip lined up the lake and touched down. He was at the opposite end of the lake to the homestead so turned around and started to taxi towards it, however, since his last landing there had been no rain and the lake was shallow. The plane hit a sandbank, flipped upside down during which the dog and the anchor (both stored in the back), flew past Lenore and Philip’s heads and exited through the front windscreen remarkably missing both of them.

On the hillside, witnessing all of this was Colin Eddy, the farm manager. He was on horseback mustering cows and on seeing the plane inverted in the water, he reacted like a true bushman and galloped towards the crash to save the planes occupants. Sadly, for Colin, he fell from his horse and broke his arm, made his way to the plane from which Philip and Lenore had emerged. Both were totally uninjured and Philip calmly aske Colin ‘what was wrong’.

Other achievements

On the water

The list is long but one day in the early 1980’s I was with Philip on his large cruiser entertaining some Saudi Arabian clients with whom we had a power transmission line contract. He asked me to accompany him to the top deck where he showed me a surfboard with a sail. He had just secured the Australian rights and went on to make sailboards for many years.

Never to be left behind Lenore had imported acupuncture needles (unseen before by the average Australian) and was busy demonstrating them on their pet dog on a midday TV chat show.

Below the road but above water

Philip was the chairman of the Seaplane Pilots Association is the only person that has ever flown under Sydney Harbour bridge.

At the age of 91 as the Chairman of the Catalina Flying Memorial he found and purchased a Catalina flying boat in Portugal, returned it to Australia and is involved in its restoration to bring it back to flying capability.

The wrong side of the fence

The Meta Sokol was a Czechoslovakian sports and touring four-seat single-engine low-wing aircraft and Philip is obviously a keen pilot, so why not import them into Australia. The story goes that on taking delivery personally in Czechoslovakia he took off and accidentally landed behind the iron curtain. Another narrow escape.

Dulmison becomes a circus

With over 200 people employed in Dulmison Thailand much time was spent in that country. Philip walked into the office in Australia one day and said that he thought that the way the Thais employed elephants to move logs could be useful in Australia for electricity authorities in the erection of telephone and power poles.

The bombshell was that he had purchased two elephants and they were on board a cargo ship on its way to Sydney!!! An immediate problem arose, a permit for their entry into the country had not been applied for.

After some quick research we found that the only way they could enter the country legally was to register Dulmison as a ‘Circus’. This was formally done, and the elephants were set to work in Sydney, however, it did not work out as planned and they were retired and spent their lives at a wildlife sanctuary west of Sydney.

Idea after idea flowed continuously.

Fighting on

Having survived this and so many other events including being gored by a bull in a Mexican bullring where he had climbed over the fence to take on the bull, Philip has never lost his fighting spirit or his passion for life. The photo below was published in the Lane Cove magazine ‘In the Cove’ in May 2018.

Philip Dulhunty was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2004 for “service to international trade through the design, manufacture and export of equipment for large high voltage electric systems, and to aviation, particularly through the Seaplane Pilots Association of Australia.

In 2008, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) conferred its James N Kurby Award on Dulhunty for “outstanding eminence, distinction, and public recognition”.

Sir Richard Kingsland described Dulhunty as a “truly Renaissance man, and his contribution to the business and engineering life of post-war Australia … astonishing.”

In June 1986, Dulhunty’s Dulmison UK Ltd received a Queen’s Export Award in recognition of its successful exports of power-line equipment, particularly vibration dampers, from its plant in Corby, Northamptonshire.

A privilege to be there

As the author of this article I was privileged to spend 8 years working alongside Philip as Contracts Manager, Production  Manager and International Development Manager during which time Dulmison employed more than 700 people in its offices and factories in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Tokyo, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and the USA. His leadership and willingness to explore new ideas was legendary and proved to be influential in my career as an entrepreneur in my own right. I will be always grateful for the opportunity Philip gave me including the recognition and understanding that you will not always get things right but if you keep working at it success is achievable.

The Modern Entrepreneur

There are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. 22.5% of small businesses fail within the first year. Here are some interesting statistics about today’s start-up scene:

In conclusion

Everyone has the opportunity to become an Entrepreneur. Starting with money does not guarantee success. It was once said;

“How do you create a small fortune?”

The answer was;

“Start with a large fortune.”

There are no guarantees but as is the case with so many successful business people they never give up, never lose the passion and are prepared to learn from failure and try again. The story of Philip Dulhunty is testament to that theory.

LEARN HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY
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Co-working spaces, Incubators, Accelerators and Innovation Hubs

Co-working spaces, Startup Incubators, Accelerators and Innovation Hubs

Co-working spaces, Incubators, Accelerators and Innovation Hubs

Coworking spaces

Coworking is an arrangement in which several individuals working independently or collaboratively in a shared office space with the convenience of a common infrastructure,  equipment, utilities, and receptionist. There are various forms of Coworking spaces including, commercial enterprises established to lease space, cooperatively managed spaces, spaces sponsored by large corporations and non-profit organizations.

Startups often use a coworking space as a place for founders and their team to operate at a stage where cash is limited, and the option of a long-term office lease is not affordable.

One advantage of joining a coworking space is that you don’t have to give away equity in your company as Incubators and accelerators generally receive equity in exchange for their expertise.

Incubator and accelerator growth trends

From 2007 there has been a rapid increase in the number of incubators and accelerators, however, the trend seemed to have peaked in 2016 most likely due to the increase in Innovation Hubs.

Startup Incubators

The aim of a startup incubator is to help new startups succeed by helping entrepreneurs solve some of the problems commonly associated with running a startup. Startup incubators offer workspace, seed funding, mentoring, and training with the sole objective of helping entrepreneurs grow their business.

Startup incubators can be owned by public and private corporations, universities, educational institutions, government and civic groups. Some of the services offered by startup incubators include:

  • Business mentoring
  • Advisory boards
  • Access to angel investors or venture capital
  • Commercialisation assistance
  • Networking opportunities
  • Accounting/financial management assistance
  • Intellectual property advice
  • Legal services
  • Marketing assistance
  • Training

Incubators seek out ventures that are in their early development stages with the objective of assisting entrepreneurs turning their ideas into a profitable business from which the incubator may also have an opportunity to profit.

A non-profit incubator’s objective is to create new jobs and increase tax bases. Typically, non-profit incubators are operated by government institutions, whereas, University-based incubators can have a combination of non-profit and for-profit motives.

It is not uncommon to find that an incubator only supports certain verticals, e.g. digital, Agri-tech, media, financial etc. Acceptance by an incubator can often be based on geographic regions or require relocation to that region. Whilst resident at an incubator entrepreneurs can network with other entrepreneurs, building on their ideas, determining product viability and creating a business plan.

As with an Accelerator the incubator period may only last several months and end with a presentation to potential investors.

Points to consider when joining an Incubator

  1. Do they have a track record of producing successful companies?
  2. What is their success rate of companies attracting investors?
  3. Do they have mentors that are experienced in your sector?
  4. Do you need investment funds immediately to grow your business? If you do and you can demonstrate growth, then an accelerator may be a better option.

Accelerators

Accelerators expedite growth of existing companies with a minimum viable product (MVP). Incubators operate on a flexible time frame ending when a business has an idea or product to pitch to investors or consumers. The timeline for accelerators is a set few months during which the entrepreneur receives mentorship, funding, and networking help.

Accelerators have an extensive application process and are highly selective. They accept companies that have already demonstrated fast growth and have created a minimum viable product (MVP).

Accelerators employ a modified incubation model with a unique way of structuring incubation, growth, and investment initiatives. Accelerators operate on a fixed-term residency and provide education, monitoring, and mentoring to start-up teams. They facilitate introductions to venture capitalists, angel investors and corporate executives and prepare start-up teams for public pitch events to potential investors. This can be the end point for most companies if they fail to attract an investment.

Points to consider when joining an Accelerator

Founders of startups often perceive acceptance into an Accelerator as an achievement that will secure their success, however, there are some things you should consider before deciding to join one.

  1. Is the timing right? If you are still building a team, looking for key personnel or have not built a minimum viable product (MVP) then the timing may not suit your needs. In this situation an Incubator may be more appropriate.
  2. Accelerators assist startups rapidly work through the business building process in a few months as opposed to a few years. Is this sufficient time for your company?
  3. Is your current rate of growth sufficient to meet the accelerator’s criteria?
  4. An accelerator may require you to relocate which may not suit your needs as it is only for a few months.
  5. After leaving an accelerator do you think that you will still need support.
  6. Accelerators generally take equity in your company, which, depending on the outcome, may be problematic for further funding.

Innovation Hubs

Innovation hubs are social communities or workspace or research centres that provide subject-matter expertise on technology trends, knowledge and strategic innovation management, and industry-specific insights. Innovation hubs can be open to everyone or operated as a closed facility that is owned by a  corporation or organisation for their own benefit. Open Innovation Hubs are a gathering space for like-minded individuals interested in technology and innovation.

The following graph produced by ‘Startup Daily’ provides an indication of where Venture Capitalists are choosing to invest.  It is representative of the balance of focus on the various sectors that can be seen in incubators, accelerators and innovation hubs.

The future of Incubators, Accelerators and Innovation Hubs

In 2005 Paul Graham  founded Y Combinator which heralded the beginning of the startup ecosystem of entrepreneurs, angel clubs, incubators, accelerators, government and university initiatives, co-working spaces. Y Combinator supported startups including  Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit and Heroku, and their success encouraged an explosion of participants that set out to copy the Y Combinator model.

The U.S.-based International Business Innovation Association estimates that there are about 7,000 incubators worldwide actively engaged in the support of startups in retail, healthcare, finance, education, government, travel, logistics, mobility and many others.

Incubators are under pressure from Corporate, non-profit and industry Innovation hubs.

  • Corporate innovation hubs focus on internal projects related to the vertical (industry sector) that they operate in. They prefer to have a majority equity holding in the startup.
  • Non-profit innovation hubs can be established by government at many levels and focus on specific verticals that are in their perceived interest.
  • Industry innovation hubs sponsor initiatives on behalf of a number of corporations that operate in a common vertical focused on their strategic needs.

Why Incubators are losing their appeal

As innovation hubs increase in number and reach there are some trends emerging regarding incubators, for instance:

  • In many instances incubators do not provide sufficient support after the idea has been validated and the startup requires assistance to scale up.
  • Investors are bypassing incubators and focussing on innovation hubs and accelerators.
  • The end of the incubation phase is often to early for a VC to invest.

In conclusion

If you are considering approaching a coworking space, incubator, accelerator or innovation hub ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I progressed pass the idea stage?
  2. Do I have a minimum viable product(MVP)?
  3. Have I made any sales?
  4. Am I ready to apply for residence at an incubator?
  5. Am I prepared to relocate if selected?
  6. What professional assistance do I need?
  7. Do I have something that would interest a corporate innovation hub?
  8. Do I need investor funding?
  9. How much equity am I prepared to give up?
  10. Will the limited period in an incubator or accelerator be sufficient to get my idea or company up and running?
  11. Will I need assistance beyond the incubator and accelerator stage?

The answers to these questions will allow you to consider which, if any, is the most appropriate option for your needs.

LEARN HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY
If you would like to learn more about this topic you can find all of the information you need including comprehensive descriptions about every aspect of starting and building a company here.

COPYRIGHTS

Patents, Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Copyrights

If your idea involves a physical product that you believe is unique you will probably be considering how to protect it from copying and competitors. Investors will ask you how you propose to protect your Intellectual Property (IP)  and the answer you give may well impact on whether or not they are prepared to invest.

There are two schools of thought regarding protection of intellectual property. If you have not already lodged patent applications and have a business that operates in the technology space where several major companies have interests you should be aware that large amounts of money and resources are applied by these companies to review emerging ideas and products with a view to protecting their own interests. In some cases, this has resulted in entrepreneurs seeing their ideas and creations challenged with the ultimate goal of delaying their market entry.

First Mover strategy

One school of thought is that where companies have not embarked on the patent process is that the best line of defence is to create the product bring it to market and be the first mover in the field.

Patent strategy

The alternate strategy is for entrepreneurs to file for the relevant protection available to them. Entrepreneurs should seek Independence legal advice as to be most appropriate course of action as it can be a lengthy and expensive process and have implications on when you are able to sell your product on the open market.

Obtaining intellectual property protection, such as patents, can minimise competition and act as a defensive mechanism against infringement claims from others. Intellectual property also can attract or solidify funding and partnerships.

Poor Man’s Patent involves mailing a description of your invention to yourself in order to authenticate a date of invention for you by the Post Office. The proof is in the sealed envelope as well as the date of postage is evident on the sealed envelope.

Other options

Trademarking your product or applying for a Design Patent (Industrial Design) and Copyright can also be useful. The following article looks at the differences between these options. . In formulating an intellectual property strategy for your startup, consider the following.

PATENTS

The first patent was granted on July 31, 1790 to Samuel Hopkins for a method of producing potash (potassium carbonate). The earliest law required that a working model of each invention be submitted with the application.

According to The Guinness Book of World Records Shunpei Yamazaki as having more patents than any other person. He has been granted 2,591 United States utility patents and has 9,700 worldwide patents, which is cumulative of more than 40 years of inventions.

Patent applications have increased exponentially with no signs of slowing down.

(Source: World Intellectual Property Organisation 2015)

How intense is the Patent lodgement process?

The author of this article worked with John Rich on the application for a US Patent. As an example of the intensity and knowledge required to lodge a patent application in the USA the following is the summary page describing the differences and why a Patent should be issued. The product was 10 years in the making including five years of communications with the patent office before finally being granted a US Patent.

United States Patent 10,206,382
Rich February 19, 2019
Filed: October 31, 2014
 

“I claim:

Hand cast fishing apparatus comprising: a handpiece having an internal line passage connected to an arm support, the arm support adapted to abut a section of the ulnar side and to capture a portion of a user’s forearm; a line guide formed by the outer end of the internal line passage and being at or adjacent the outer end of the handpiece through which fishing line may pass for casting; and a support assembly depending from the arm support having a left and/or right hand releasable reel mounting each of which can operatively secure and position a fishing reel for feeding fishing line from the fishing reel through the line guide in an underslung position beneath the support assembly with its winding mechanism operable by a user’s opposite hand, wherein the left and/or right hand releasable reel mounting is fastened to a mount.

2. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the line guide positions a cast fishing line across the extended forefinger of a user’s hand when operatively grasping the handpiece.

3. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the arm support is formed so as to extend from the handpiece along the ulnar side of the forearm of a user operatively grasping the handpiece.

4. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the arm support includes a saddle to capture the portion of a user’s forearm.

5. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 4, wherein the relative position of the saddle to the handpiece is reversibly adjustable.

6. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the handpiece position relative to the arm support is selectively adjustable.

7. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 6, further including reversible securing means for the handpiece to the arm support to displace the handpiece to the left- or right-hand side of the arm support.

8. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein the securing means includes a pair of opposed rails on the handpiece for selective captive engagement with a pair of mounting slots on the arm support.

9. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein the securing means includes a trunnion mounting extending laterally at or near the end of the arm support whereby the handpiece may be selectively supported at either end of the trunnion mounting.

10. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, further including a fishing reel attached to one of the reel mountings.

11. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the mount is a cylindrical mount.

12. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein the cylindrical mount is attached to the arm support such that the left and/or right-hand releasable reel mounting assembly is configured to be rotated about the axis of the cylindrical mount.

13. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 12, wherein the left and/or right hand releasable reel mounting assembly is configured to be rotated about the axis of the cylindrical mount to set the fishing reel at an angle whereby its feed axis is substantially in line with the internal line passage.

14. Hand cast fishing apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the left and/or right hand releasable reel mounting assembly includes opposed treaded end mounts.

15. A hand cast fishing apparatus comprising: a handpiece having an internal line passage connected to an arm support, the arm support configured to be secured to the ulnar side of a user’s forearm; a line guide formed by the outer end of the internal line passage and being at or adjacent the outer end of the handpiece through which fishing line may pass for casting; a pair of mounts attached to opposing sides of the arm support; and, a support assembly depending from the arm support having a reel mounting assembly configured to secure and position a fishing reel for feeding fishing line from the fishing reel through the line guide in an underslung position beneath the support assembly with its winding mechanism operable by a user’s opposite hand, wherein the reel mounting assembly is configured to be releasably fastened to either mount of the pair of mounts for left or right hand use.

16. The hand cast fishing apparatus of claim 15, wherein the reel mounting assembly is configured to be rotated about either mount of the pair of mounts.”

Years of investigation into existing technology is required to be able to recognise and construct an argument that successfully supports your invention.

TRADEMARKS

The earliest trademark legislation was the Bakers’ Marking Law, obliging every baker to put his mark on the bread he baked, enacted by the British Parliament in 1266.

A design mark with an eagle and a ribbon and the words “Economical, Brilliant” was the first registered trademark, filed by the Averill Chemical Paint Company on August 30, 1870 under the Trademark Act of 1870.

(Source: US Patent and Trademark Office)

Advantages of filing a Trademark

  • It gives you the right to use the registered trademark symbol.
  • It grants the right to file a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court and to obtain monetary damages.
  • it acts as a bar to the registration of another confusingly similar mark.
  • You can request to have the customs service block the importation of goods bearing an infringing mark.
  • It may serve as the basis for an international trademark application.

Disadvantages of filing a Trademark

  • If you have not done a thorough search the trademark may already be taken which could lead to a legal dispute.
  • Filing may lead to an objection as many trademark owners use watching services to review new applications.
  • The lifespan of a trademark may be not be long enough to warrant the effort if you only intend to use it for a short period.
  • The trademark may be not be distinctive enough.

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS

An industrial design (referred to as a design patent in the United States) is a form of intellectual property that protects visual features such as shape, configuration, pattern or ornament, or any combination of these features, applied to a finished article.

Industrial Design protection is a type of intellectual property right that gives the exclusive right to make, sell, and use articles that embody the protected design, to the right holder. In order to get the statutory protection of Industrial Design, the Design has to be registered before the Design registry. Industrial design rights are granted for a limited period. The duration of the protection of industrial designs varies from country to country, but it amounts at least to 10 years. In many countries, the total duration of protection is divided into successive renewable periods.

Industrial design rights are usually enforced in a court, generally on the initiative of the owner of the rights, as provided for by the applicable law. The remedies and penalties vary from country to country and could be civil (injunctions to desist from an infringement, payment of damages, etc.), criminal or administrative.

(Source: World Intellectual Property Organisation 2016)

Advantages of applying for an Industrial Design

  • In principle, the owner of a registered industrial design or of a design patent has the right to prevent third parties from making, selling or importing articles bearing or embodying a design which is a copy, or substantially a copy, of the protected design, when such acts are undertaken for commercial purposes.
  • Industrial designs are applied to a wide variety of products of industry and handicraft items: from packages and containers to furnishing and household goods, from lighting equipment to jewellery, and from electronic devices to textiles. Industrial designs may also be relevant to graphic symbols, graphical user interfaces (GUI), and logos.
  • In most countries, an industrial design needs to be registered in order to be protected under industrial design law as a “registered design”. In some countries, industrial designs are protected under patent law as “design patents ”.
  • Industrial design laws in some countries grant – without registration – time- and scope limited protection to so-called “unregistered industrial designs”.
  • Depending on the particular national law and the kind of design, industrial designs may also be protected as works of art under copyright law.
  • Design patents applications are examined quicker than utility patent applications. Instead of waiting 2 or 3 years for a utility patent application to be filed, design patents applications may be examined and allowed within one year. Hence, you can mark your product patented quicker.

Disadvantages of applying for an Industrial Design

  • An industrial design right protects only the appearance or aesthetic features of a product, whereas a patent protects an invention that offers a new technical solution to a problem. In principle, an industrial design right does not protect the technical or functional features of a product. Such features could, however, potentially be protected by a patent.
  • Industrial designs only provide a narrow scope of patent protection. It only protects what is shown in the drawings. If a competitor copies your product but makes it look different then there is no design patent infringement.

COPYRIGHTS

COPYRIGHTS

A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. In the USA, The duration of copyright protection depends on several factors.  For works created by an individual, protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years.  A work must be original, creative and fixed in a tangible medium and for hire, protection lasts 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.

Copyright provides the right to control the reproduction, making of derivative works, distribution and public performance and display of the copyrighted works.

Advantages of registering Copyright

  • Registering your copyright, a public record confirming you have claimed copyright ownership of that particular work. This lets the public know the work is protected by copyright and also informs those who would like to use the copyrighted work whom they should contact for permission.
  • If the copyright is registered before the work is published, or within five years after publication, the registration is accepted as proof in court that you are the original creator of the work and are entitled to copyright protection.
  • The use of a copyright notice — a letter “c” inside a circle along with the copyright holder’s name and date the copyright started — is no longer legally required, but it enhances the effect of copyright registration by putting all viewers on notice that the work is protected by copyright law.
  • Although criminal prosecution may result from large-scale copyright infringement actions, enforcement of most copyrights against infringement is accomplished through civil lawsuits filed by the copyright holder.

Disadvantages of registering Copyright

  • The primary disadvantage to copyright registration is simply the time and modest costs involved in the process of filing the registration.

In conclusion

Patents, Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Copyrights are all valid strategies in the process of protecting your IP and can be used in combination with each other.

Whatever strategy you select it is always recommended that you seek professional advice before making a decision as the process can be lengthy, complicated and costly and often requires specific legal knowledge that patent attorneys are trained to provide.

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What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

What is Artificial Intelligence

“Artificial intelligence as any task performed by a program or a machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say the human had to apply intelligence to accomplish the task”

Minsky and McCarthy (1950)

AI is a combination of software technologies designed to replicate the brain’s decision-making functions. The human brain is made up of neural networks and AI is based on artificial neural networks that are designed to recognise speech and objects and independently generate actions.

The objective of AI is to create artificial neural networks that automatically build graphs that represent the software interpretation of human memory resulting in an AI program that learns from and educates itself.

History of AI Patents

Artificial intelligence (AI) emerged in the 1950s, with the first mention of the term coming during the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence in 1956. Since that time innovators and researchers have published over 1.6 million AI-related scientific publications and filed patent applications for nearly 340,000 AI-related inventions.

(Source: World Intellectual Property Organisation 2019)

AI Patents by company

Characteristics of AI programs or machines

  • Planning
  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Knowledge representation
  • Perception
  • Motion
  • Manipulation

Examples of AI in practice

  • Google maps – Using anonymized location data from smartphone, that can analyse the speed of movement of traffic at any given time.
  • Uber and Lyft – ridesharing apps.
  • Siri uses machine-learning technology to learn, predict and understand natural-language questions and requests.
  • Alexa – recognises speech, understands commands, answers questions and facilitates smart homes.
  • Teslaself-driving vehicles with predictive capabilities.
  • com – predictive purchasing and delivery planning.
  • Netflix – predictive viewer preferences.

What are some of the areas AI is used for?

The use of AI is rapidly spreading across many sectors including, but not limited to:

  • Marketing – Product and content recommendations, Visual search & image recognition, Search engines, Social monitoring & analysis, reactive product pricing, chatbots, audience targeting.
  • Vision – Augmented reality.
  • Image Processing – facial recognition, environment mapping, and human motion detection.
  • Aviation – combat and training simulators, mission management aids, support systems for tactical decision making. AI is also used to help designers in the process of creating conceptual designs of aircraft.
  • Computer science – solving difficult problems in computer science including the development of neural net topologies.
  • Education – student tutoring, creating lessons, problems, and games to tailor to the specific student’s needs, and providing feedback.
  • Finance – Algorithmic micro trading of shares on stock markets. Market analysis and data mining to assist with investment practices.  Personal finance using AI to assist people with their personal finances. Portfolio management, Robo-advisors provide financial advice and portfolio management with minimal human intervention. Underwriting using machine learning algorithms to develop credit risk models that predict a consumer’s likelihood of default.
  • Agriculture – Crop and soil monitoring uses new algorithms and data collected on the field to manage and track the health of crops and to predict the time it takes for a crop to ripen and ready for picking.
  • Natural Language Processing – automatic language translation, speech recognition, sentiment analysis, handwriting recognition and question answering.
  • Engineering – Automation of many low-level engineering tasks.
  • Legal – Assisting with due diligence and research, providing additional insights and through analytics, case preparation.

Commercial platforms useful in building an AI application

The following available apps are often used by developers in creating new AI applications:

Api.ai

An API created in association with Google developers, Api.ai is based on contextual memorization of previous user interactions. Api.ai is compatible with most widespread mobile platforms, to date – Android OS and iOS, and support of Node.js, Cordova, Unity, C++, Xamarin, Python, and JavaScript.

Wit.ai

The Wit.ai platform features special mechanisms that transform user voice requests into text. Wit.ai is used by developers that work with iOS, Android, Node.js, Raspberry Pi, Ruby, Python, C, Rust, and the Windows Phone.

Melissa

An open source platform using Python programming language. Melissa features imbedded voice recognition mechanisms, suitable for the development of voice AI applications.

Clarifai

Clarifai processes data received through cameras built in user devices to identify images received from external sources. Clarifai is used by developers working with Python, Java, and Node.js.

Tensorflow

TensorFlow is a library created by Google with an open source code and applies pre-installed databases, as well as unique user interaction experiences.

Programming languages used to code an AI application

Programming languages

Developing AI software requires a knowledge of certain programming languages.

  • C++
  • Lisp
  • Java
  • Prolog
  • Python

How to get started with AI?

The easiest way to experiment with AI-related services is via the cloud as all of the major tech firms offer AI services, from the infrastructure to build and train your own machine-learning models through to web services that allow you to access AI-powered tools such as speech, language, vision and sentiment recognition on demand.

In conclusion

AI applications are on the increase and offer many opportunities for developers. AI requires an understanding of the technical complexities, development skills and a knowledge of different platforms and languages.

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A basic guide to developing an App

A basic guide to developing an App

A basic guide to developing an App

on January 9th, 2007 Steve Jobs released the original iPhone with a few pre-installed apps. Apple didn’t provide the ability to create or install any add-on apps. Instead, developers were urged to create web apps that users would access through the built-in Safari web browser.

The Apple App Store shows no signs of slowing down, despite the fact that people seem to limit the number of apps they use regularly to just a small handful. But developers keep building, so the apps keep coming. According to new analysis out this morning from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the App Store is expected to more than double its size over the next four years, reaching 5 million apps by the year 2020.

What does the app market look like?

https://www.mobileaction.co 2018

What Is Innovation in App design?

New apps come in many different forms that can be broadly categorised as follows:

Disruptive Apps:

Disruptive apps are innovations that offer simple, low-cost solutions to customers’ problems with the potential of significant growth. They disrupt market-leading products by simplifying existing applications and lowering the price customers pay.

Breakthrough Products:

Innovative apps with a technological breakthrough that sets them apart from the rest. These products come on strong in the market, then quickly drop to a lower level of performance as other manufacturers catch up.

Example:

In 1979 the author of this article was a co-creator of what became the world’s first laptop computer, the Dulmont Magnum. A fundamental need at that time was applications that could run on a PC, however, Microsoft had not created ‘Word’ or ‘Excel’. Between 1979 and its launch in 1984 the company created two applications ‘Magicalc’ and ‘Magiword’ a word processor and a spreadsheet that was embedded in the hardware. By the time it was launched all Dulmont Magnum laptops were shipped complete with an operating system, a word processor and a spreadsheet. History shows that within a few years there were many other applications of this type.

Incremental Products:

They  reduce costs, improve existing products, create new markets, or are an addition to an existing platform.

Platform Products:

They establish the basic architecture for a next-generation product. They are larger in scope than incremental products.

Are you ready?

Before you start to build a new app ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you have the skill sets in the company?
  • Does it solve a problem for someone?
  • Will people buy it?
  • Is it scalable?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ then set about the following tasks:

  • Research the market trends
  • Define the customer benefits and acceptance data
  • Define the technical concept
  • Create a product specification
  • Create a costs and revenue estimate
  • Create a development schedule
  • Determine your staffing and skill set needs
  • Create a business plan
  • From your cost analysis and business plan decide whether it is a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ situation

Questions to be resolved about the proposed product

  1. Who is the customer?
  2. How will customers use the product?
  3. How does it satisfy customer needs?
  4. How will the product be positioned in the market?
  5. Do we need more technology to support the product?
  6. What are the products ‘unique selling proposition’?
  7. How much will customers pay?
  8. What features will initially be included?
  9. How will the product be marketed?

Skill sets that a mobile app development team must have

  • User Interface (UI) design—the ability to design an app that has an attractive, easy-to-navigate, and responsive design.
  • Database and hardware computing— the ability to create databases with an optimal data structure, specify interaction of the app with the device hardware, minimize power requirements, ensure security of the app against external threats like viruses and hacking, and allocate memory efficiently.
  • Programming—Programming languages translate business logic into a machine-readable language.
  • A knowledge of using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for various mobile application platforms.

Steps in producing an App

Steps in producing an App

Step 1: The Idea

  • Identify a problem which can be resolved by your app.
  • Decide the features of your app.
  • Describe its benefits.

Step 2: Identify

  • Target market.
  • Mobile platforms and devices to be supported.
  • Revenue model.
  • Funds required.

Step 3: Design

  • UI design.

Step 4: Identify development approach

  • Native: Native apps enables in delivering the best user experience but require significant time and skill to be developed. These apps are basically platform specific and require expertise along with knowledge. Native apps are costly as well as time taking to be developed and deliver the highest user experience amongst all the approaches.
  • Web: Web apps are quick and cheap ones to develop and can run on multiple platforms. These are developed using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript code. These web apps are less powerful than native apps.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid approach is the latest approach to develop any app. This approach combines prebuilt native containers with on-the-fly web coding in order to achieve the best of both worlds. In this approach, the developer augments the web code with native language to create unique features and access native APIs which are not yet available through JavaScript.

Step 5: Prototype

  • Basic functionality.
  • Sufficient for end users to grasp concept.

Step 6: Integrate an analytics tool

  • incorporate appropriate analytics which gives you a detailed picture of how many visitors use your webs, how they arrived on your site and how can they keep coming back.

Step 7: Beta testing

  • Identify Beta test potential clients.
  • Ask for user feedback.
  • Eliminate bugs .

Step 8: Launch phase

  • Plan deployment programme.
  • Schedule releases

Step 9: Measure

  • collect accurate metrics.
    • Funnel analysis identifies why users are failing to complete desired user actions including in-app purchases or ad clicks.
    • Social sharing metrics signifies what aspects of your app are capturing the attention of your users.
    • Correlate demographic data with user behaviour.
    • Tracking time and location .

Step 10: Upgrade features as required

  • Add new features
  • Comply with new guidelines

Step 11: Maintenance & Support

  • Check for and remove errors.

In conclusion

App Successful Release

New developments occur regularly with some of the most recent being,

  • Augmented Reality
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Data monetization
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
  • Wearables

Irrespective of the sector you are operating in, the technology you will deploy or the strategies you will use to monetise your app it is very important to be aware of the market developments, they are happening at a speed unlike anything previously seen.

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How to turn an idea into a patented product

How to turn an idea into a patented product

How to turn an idea into a patented product

The following is the story of an inventor, an idea and how it turned into a patented product.

The first fishing rod or pole can be seen in ancient Egyptian murals several thousand years ago, but it was not until 1195AD that the fishing reel was invented in Song dynasty China. Fishing reels first appeared in England around 1650 AD, and by the 1760s, London tackle shops were advertising multiplying or gear-retrieved reels. Surprisingly no one had ever combined a reel a tip and a handline., and although a large percentage of the world’s population enjoy recreational fishing, very few technological developments have occurred in equipment.

In the early 2000’s, John Rich, an Australian inventor and keen fishermen, conceived the idea of combining the convenience of handline fishing with the power of a fishing rod. The question was how to progress this idea with limited funds, no company structure and minimal resources. At this stage many inventors assume that they have something of value that could be sold to a company or would attract immediate investment, sadly this is generally not the case and they find themselves with a dilemma, try to make a prototype, try to attract an investor or give up.

Making the first prototype

John Rich decided to make a very basic prototype to demonstrate to potential investors or to licence to an industry manufacturer. What he made was ‘fishbusta’ version1.

Making the first prototype

He managed to partner with someone in the industry and 2,000 copies were made of the prototype.

Market validation

To gauge market feedback the units were sold at market stalls and during this process customers were asked for feedback both positive and negative and from these many lessons were learned. Modifications to the design and functionality were made and incorporated into the next prototype ‘fishbusta’ version 2

Market validation

From the photo above it is obvious that significant modifications were made to the original design including the positioning of the reel from an internal design only capable of accommodating a closed-face reel, to an external mount capable of accepting many types of reel including the purchasers own favourite reel. An extendable telescopic tip was added together with an ergonomic arm rest that uses the natural power of the arm. The complete unit was redesigned in a way that it became reversible for left and right-handed anglers and foldable for easy packing and transport.

Protecting the IP

As ‘fishbusta’ version 2 had never been released to the public or publicly shown it was decided that an application for an Australian Standard Patent would be lodged. The application was officially lodged in November 2013 and  Standard Patent granted in November 2104.

Protecting the IP

Following on from the successful Australian Patent application it was decided to apply for a US Patent in October 2014, however, the process was a lengthy one taking four and a half years to achieve a successful outcome. The US Patent was granted in February 2019.

Protecting the IP Protecting the IP For Your Product

Making a 3D Animation from prototype version 2

In 2019 a design engineering company was engaged to prepare Computer Aided Design (CAD) files that would be used to manufacture ‘fishbusta’ version 3. To achieve this STL files were created and an animation of the new prototype was made.

(STL (an abbreviation of “stereolithography”) is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems).

Making a 3D printed prototype of version 2

The STL files created by the design engineers were sent to a 3D printing company to produce a prototype.

The3D printing  process used by the company is known as  Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) which uses melted plastics, known as a filament.

Making a 3D printed prototype of version 2

FFF is the most commonly used additive manufacturing method. It utilises a filament (coiled plastic) that is melted through a heated nozzle and creates the product layer  by  layer. FFF is mainly used for rapid prototyping as materials are affordable.

The total cost of 3D printing the version 2 prototype was approximately USD$800 and took approximately 3 days to complete.

Observations made from 3D printed version 2 prototype

The benefit of producing prototypes is that you can physically see what works and what does not. In this case there was a weak point in the design where the extendable tip entered the body casing. Modifications were easily made to the design and the tip was extended further into the casing solving the problem.

Making injection moulding tooling from prototype version 2

It was now time to commit to the manufacturing of injection moulding tooling to produce the finished item.

The STL files and prototype version 2 were delivered to the tooling manufacturers who were commissioned to manufacture tooling capable of producing 5,000 finished units per week. Because most injection moulded items have a complex shape the tooling design is often complicated as the critical issue is how the individual components are extracted which in this case required the moulds to be a four-piece interlocking design. The moulds were originally scheduled to be completed within 4 months, however, as is often the case, this extended to double that length of time. In October 2020 the moulds were completed, and initial production commenced.

Making injection moulding tooling from prototype version 2

The final step

After the final design was determined and tooling commissioned you will need to consider how the product will be packed, labelled and shipped, all processes in the journey from the idea to the customer.

In conclusion

Gaining Australian and US Patent protection is a valuable asset, however, if you are anticipating going down this path be conscious of the time and costs involved in the process.

Prototyping is a vital and essential process that is worth undertaking before you launch into production as it will help you avoid costly mistakes as well as giving you the opportunity to incorporate features that you may never have thought of as well as addressing user criticisms.

 

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Additive vs. subtractive manufacturing

Additive vs. subtractive manufacturing – what’s the difference?

Additive vs. subtractive manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing adds material to create an object. Traditional forms of manufacturing start with a ‘block’ of material and remove pieces by milling, machining, carving or shaping, this is known as Subtractive Manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing has become an integral method of making prototypes of new products and is best recognised in the emerging field of 3D Printing.  Which in itself is only one form of additive manufacturing. As most product developers will gravitate towards 3D printing to produce their first prototypes lets briefly discuss the other process Subtractive manufacturing.

SUBTRACTIVE MANUFACTURING

Product developers start with a sketch of their idea and translate this into a Computer Aided Design (CAD) which becomes the instruction code for a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine (milling machine, lathe, etc.) which produces the item. These machines start with a solid block of material such as steel, alloy or plastic and remove material until the finished product is made.

Until 3D printing emerged the majority of prototypes were made using Subtractive Manufacturing.

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

The primary interest for product developers is 3D Printing.

3D printing builds thin layers using a variety of different  materials such as carbon, nylon, metal and different plastics. The automotive, aerospace, mechanical engineering and civil engineering sectors are all developing new techniques with other materials.

The most common applications for 3D printing are:

  1. Rapid Prototyping

Used to test concepts, form and fit for products,  verify the product and test its viability.

  1. Tooling and moulds

Used to create custom designed final products often of a complex nature. Moulds are used to cast tools and create more prototypes.

  1. Direct Manufacturing

Used to create a final product.

Steps in 3D printing

Steps in 3D printing

  1. Create a design for the product using one of the following:
    • CAD software
    • Free-form modelling software
    • Sculpting software
  1. Converting the Design to an STL file format and transferring it to the 3D printer

STL special file format that is used to allow the communication between a computer and the 3D printer. The STL format is the standard file format for 3D printing and all major CAD software packages support it.

  1. Set up the 3D printer by specifying
    • Material to be used
    • Speed
    • Temperature
    • Power sources
  1. Construction of the object

This process is assisted by the automation of the 3D printer.

  1. Removing and cleaning

Depends on the 3D printing method used.

  1. Post-processing

Removal of support structures that may have been designed to hold the piece in position.

3D Printing Technologies

3D printing can be divided into three different technologies:

  1. Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) – uses melted plastics, known as a filament
  2. Stereolithography (SLA) – uses a liquid resin as a starting base
  3. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) – uses a powder composite that is melted to form the model.

Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)

Fused Filament Fabrication

FFF is the most commonly used additive manufacturing method. It utilises a filament (coiled plastic) that is melted through a heated nozzle and creates the product layer  by  layer. FFF is mainly used for rapid prototyping as materials are affordable.

Materials than can be used with the FFF process include:

  • ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

A popular durable, lightweight and flexible plastic widely used mainstream products. ABS is used for architectural models, concept product models, manufacturing, fixtures and general DIY projects. ABS has a high-temperature requirement and this can create fumes.

  • PLA – Polylactic acid

PLA is a material derived from biodegradable compounds and is widely used in additive manufacturing. It is safer to use than ABS and is used in the food and medical industries for prototyping low-cost models and functional models. PLA is not as heat resistant as ABS and has a rough texture that can degrade over long periods of time.

  • PV PVA – Polyvinyl alcohol

A water-soluble plastic used in 3D printing primary as a support structure material in the construction of complex structures. PVA is an expensive material compared to the other plastics and can also release toxic fumes if the temperature settings are too high.

  • HIPS – HIPS High Impact Polystyrene

HIPS is a filament that is very similar to ABS but unlike ABS, it is soluble in d-limonene. It also has the advantage of being lighter than ABS making it a useful filament for various applications. HIPS is used both to build prototypes but has the additional benefit of being able to be a support material for complex prints. HIPS requires that your printer has both a heated bed and is capable of reaching high temperatures for effective printing.

  • PETG – PETG polyethylene terephthalate (glycol)

PETG is a very durable material that is used in 3D printing. It has high strength and high heat resistance. It is safer than ABS when using it alongside food products or medical instruments. PETG is used for prototyping models, functional prototypes and end-use products. It is also used for mechanical parts since it is not affected by shrinkage, warping and it is fairly flexible. Although highly durable, the disadvantage of using PETG is that it requires careful calibration to achieve high- quality prints.

  • Nylon – Nylon Polyamide

Nylon is utilized heavily due to its industrial strength, flexibility and durability. It is stronger than both ABS and PLA and additionally has the added advantage of being affordable. Nylon is used for many applications due to its versatility. It is used for both prototyping, manufacturing, tooling and machine parts. Nylon requires proper storage because it absorbs moisture easily and can also produce fumes if exposed to high temperatures.

Stereo-Lithography and Digital Light Processing (SLA)

Stereo-Lithography and Digital Light Processing

SLA uses a photosensitive liquid resin that is hardened by using a light source. In contrast to FFF, an object is created through a build platform being lowered into the resin and a light source above or underneath hardening the material. The objects created are usually more accurate and smoother than FFF, however this method is mainly used for intricate small objects and has issues with larger objects.

Materials that can be used with the SLA process include:

  • General purpose resins

Unlike FFF, SLA uses liquid resins that can be categorised by use and not specific material types. This is due to the variety of companies that produce their own variants and resin combinations. General purpose resins have similar finishes to standard plastic and colour choices are limited. General purpose resins have a number of standard uses. The main advantage they bring is they allow for high fidelity prototypes to be built. However, SLA has issues with building larger models. General purpose resins are used to produce, jewellery, functional prototypes and art models. SLA uses a variety of chemical solvents, and UV light which require safety precautions to be strictly followed.

  • Engineering resins

Engineering resins can come with a number of attributes that are dependent on the development requirements. Some are similar to ABS (Tough), others have high-temperature resistance or overall durability. These resins are used for both rapid prototyping and also direct manufacturing. Although these resins have various properties that aim to reproduce the durability of injection moulded parts, they can be expensive. Tough Resins: Prototypes and visual prototypes. These resins are designed for heavy use cases and case where the structure will be subjugated to high stress. High-temperature resistant resins: Tooling or moulds that require heat-resistant properties. Overall durable resins: Rapid prototyping and visual prototypes.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Selective Laser Sintering

SLS  uses a laser to solidify a powder material. It works by having a build area that is filled with a powder composite and storage compartment. The small amount of powder in the build area is heated to just below its melting point by a  laser. As the laser melts the first layer, the build platform moves down as the powder store area moves up. This action adds a new layer that can be melted by the laser. The other powder that remains in the build area also acts as a support for the object. This method is suitable for functional components and end products.  Generally, SLS is used with different polymer materials while metallic components are produced using DMLS (Direct metal laser sintering). This process is similar but has different power requirements and slightly different processes due to the metal. Traditionally SLS is a method that has been strictly used by large institutions due to the high price of an SLS printer.

Materials than can be used with the SLS process include:

  • Plastic Powder

The most commonly used polymer is nylon, however, there are equivalent composites that have the properties of ABS, PLA and other standard printing plastics. Often glass or other materials are added in SLS powders to induce specific material requirements. The applications for plastic powders for SLS are to produce a wide variety of standard prototypes, visual concepts and functional prototypes. These prototypes can have heat resistant properties or be flexible. One example is printing shoe components. SLS standard plastics have different properties and deficiencies. Depending on the composite, the deficiencies are similar in nature to standard polymers. The variety of materials are limited however for SLS printing.

  • Metallic Composites

There are metal composites like Alumide which is a composite of nylon and aluminium particles. Like plastics, everything in terms of characteristics is dependent on end-user requirements. So long as the metal can be melted, then it is viable for DMLS. Functional prototypes and tooling for aerospace, medicine, electronics and rapid manufacturing. The usage of these parts is for highly customizable situations that require unique engineering solutions that are not easily found in the standard industry. Better materials are expensive depending on the composite. SLS can be risky due to possible combustion due to the metals and powder inhalation.

TECHNIQUE COMPARISON TABLE

Source: (3D PRINTING TECHNIQUES AND RAPID PROTOTYPING – Kyocera White Paper 2018)

Attribute FFF SLA SLS
Raw Material Used Solid Liquid Powder
Raw Material Handling Easy Medium Hard
Resolution Low High Medium
Machine Costs Low Medium High
Operation Costs Low High Medium
Material Options Many Few Few
Surface Medium Very Smooth Smooth
Build Volume Large Small Medium
Use Easy Intermediate Intermediate
Print Complexity High, with soluble support High, with support High
Support Structures Can be removed by hand

or by dissolving in water

Have to be remove

by plier/cutter

None
Post Processing Low to none Medium, curing Medium, removing powder
Time-to-market

After Printing

Instant Curing, 15 minutes Removing powder,

10 minutes

Machine Preparation Low, 5 minutes avg. Very low, 1-minute avg. Low, long heat up?
Machine After-care Medium, 10 minutes avg. Medium, 10 minutes avg. Low, 15 minutes avg.
Recommended Protection None Gloves Gloves, mask
Deformation Gradually Sudden Gradually

 

Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing working together – Hybrid Manufacturing

Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing working together

Hybrid systems combine the versatility of additive manufacturing with some of the advantages of subtractive methods. Specialist machines can perform both operations, meaning that complex parts can be made more easily. Hybrid manufacturing is particularly good for repairing worn or broken parts, as the material can be added in layers, then finished with milling tools.

This device can leverage any number of tools, including drills and saws, to remove large amounts of raw material and create prototypes or finished products at scale.

3D Printing enters the Building and Construction sector

3D Printing enters the Building and Construction sector

Conventional structures are now being created using 3D printed concrete with the result that walls, openings and complex structures can be created with minimal human input.

In conclusion

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a fast-evolving methodology that is increasing in its flexibility, materials used, size and speed. Each method has its own attributes and it is inevitable that we will see its spread across many sectors. As speed increase and costs are reduced it will replace conventional methods in some production processes.

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Applying for a Patent in Australia

Applying for a Patent in Australia

Applying for a Patent in Australia

Warning

Patents can take years to obtain and cost a considerable amount of money and it is strongly recommended that anyone considering one should seek professional assistance before applying for a patent.

If you have an invention and  if you demonstrate, sell or discuss your invention in public before filing an application you may not get a patent. It is prudent that before discussing your invention with colleagues, employees or partners have them sign a confidentiality agreement first.

Clearing up a misconception

An “International Patent” or a “World Patent“, that will protect your invention idea in every country on earth does not exist. To get patent protection in a given country you need to file for a patent in that specific country. There is however a convention known as the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which does offer some advantages and is explained later in this article.

In Australia there are 2 types of Patents

IP Australia (https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/understanding-patents/patent-basics) describes a Patent as:

“A patent is a legally enforceable right for a device, substance, method or process. For your application to be successful, your invention must be new, useful and inventive or innovative.”

When granted, a patent will give you exclusive commercial rights to your invention (a monopoly).

The type of patent you hold will determine the duration of your protection.

The differences between a Standard Patent and an Innovation Patent are:

Feature Innovation Patent Standard Patent
Length of validity 20 years (or 25 years for pharmaceutical patents). 8 years.
Reasons for choice 1.     When the product, process or invention had a longer product life cycle of up to 20 years.

2.     When you seek an investor to invest in your innovation, who requires robust patent protection.

1.     When the product, process or invention had a short product life cycle of up to 8 years.

2.     When the invention does not meet the inventive step requirement but does meet the innovative step requirement.

Disadvantages The process can take 2 to 6 years, or sometimes longer subject to the complexity of the item, challenges to its unique features and responses to those challenges. It is easier to obtain as it is not usually examined, however, it is not as valuable as a standard patent as the duration of the patent is 8 years instead of 20.
Application time frame Approximately 6 months, to several years. Approximately 1 month.
Cost Can be very expensive and include years of Patent Attorney legal fees, filing costs, challenge costs and other items. Compared to a standard patent, it is relatively inexpensive.
Invention  requirements Be new, useful, and involve an inventive step, that is, that the invention must be ‘non-obvious’. Be new, useful, and involve an innovative step, which is a less onerous requirement than the inventive step required for a standard patent
After the patent is granted, can the patent owner enforce the patent against infringers? Yes. No. If the owner of an innovation patent seeks to enforce it against an infringer, the patent first has to be examined (i.e. investigated to ensure that it meets all the requirements for a patent).
Does IP Australia investigate whether all the tests for a patent to be granted have been met? Yes, examination is mandatory. Not before the patent is granted.

 

Benefits of Australian patents

  • Provides you with the right to stop others from manufacturing, using and/or selling your invention in Australia without your permission.
  • Enables you to license someone else to manufacture your invention on agreed terms or take legal action against people who are using your invention without your permission.

Factors to consider if a patent is the right choice

A patent may be the right choice for you if:

  • After searching you find no other similar product or technology.
  • The financial benefits greater than the time, effort and money required to get and maintain a patent.
  • the protection a patent offers reduces the risks of intellectual property (IP) theft.
  • you have the resources to manage your IP
  • you own the invention and have it has not been made public.

Note:

A Provisional Application can be made if you are considering a patent as it gives you up to 12 months to consider your options before deciding to proceed with a patent application although a provisional application does not provide you with the protection of a full patent. A provisional patent is not as expensive and gives you the earliest possible priority date. A priority date establishes the fact that you are the first person to file a new invention with IP Australia.

What is ‘Prior Art’?

Prior art is any evidence that your invention is already known. Prior art does not need to exist physically or be commercially available. It is enough that someone, somewhere, sometime previously has described or shown or made something that contains a use of technology that is very similar to your invention. If you discover the prior art after the patent has already been issued, there’s no obligation to cite the prior art in your issued patent. But should your competitors discover the same prior art, they could potentially use it to knock out your patent’s claims via litigation.

What is a ‘Priority Date’?

The priority date is the filing date of the very first patent application for a specific invention. Within 12 months of that first filing, a subsequent patent application for the same invention can be filed claiming this “priority right”.

Who can apply for a patent?

A patent can be owned by:

  • the inventor(s)
  • the person who has legally obtained rights to the invention from the inventor(s) or an intermediary
  • a company, organisation or other employer of someone who made the invention in the course of their normal duties.

How to apply for an Australian Patent

How to apply for an Australian Patent

To apply for an Australian Standard Patent follow the instructions on the IP Australia link:

https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/applying-patent/standard-patent-application-process

To apply for an Australian Innovation Patent follow the instructions on the IP Australia link:

https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/applying-patent/innovation-patent-application-process

To make a Provisional Application follow the instructions on the IP Australia link:

https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/applying-patent/provisional-application-process

For IP Australia information regarding international applications use the following link:

https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/applying-patent/international-application-process

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (Other countries)

PCT Contracting States and Two-letter Codes (153 on 2 October 2019)

AE United Arab Emirates

AG Antigua and Barbuda

AL Albania (EP)

AM Armenia (EA)

AO Angola AT Austria (EP)

AU Australia

AZ Azerbaijan (EA)

BA Bosnia and Herzegovina1

BB Barbados

BE Belgium (EP)2

BF Burkina Faso (OA)2

BG Bulgaria (EP)

BH Bahrain

BJ Benin (OA)2

BN Brunei Darussalam

BR Brazil B

W Botswana (AP)

BY Belarus (EA)

BZ Belize

CA Canada

CF Central African Republic (OA)2

CG Congo (OA)2

CH Switzerland (EP)

CI Côte d’Ivoire (OA)2

CL Chile

CM Cameroon (OA)2

CN China

CO Colombia

CR Costa Rica

CU Cuba

CY Cyprus (EP)2

CZ Czechia (EP)

DE Germany (EP)

DJ Djibouti

DK Denmark (EP)

DM Dominica

DO Dominican Republic

DZ Algeria

EC Ecuador

EE Estonia (EP)

EG Egypt

ES Spain (EP)

FI Finland (EP)

FR France (EP)2

GA Gabon (OA)2

GB United Kingdom (EP)

GD Grenada

GE Georgia

GH Ghana (AP)

GM Gambia (AP)

GN Guinea (OA)2

GQ Equatorial Guinea (OA)2

GR Greece (EP)2

GT Guatemala

GW Guinea-Bissau (OA)2

HN Honduras

HR Croatia (EP)

HU Hungary (EP)

ID Indonesia

IE Ireland (EP)2

IL Israel

IN India

IR Iran (Islamic Republic of)

IS Iceland (EP)

IT Italy (EP)2

JO Jordan

JP Japan

KE Kenya (AP)

KG Kyrgyzstan (EA)

KH Cambodia3

KM Comoros (OA)2

KN Saint Kitts and Nevis

KP Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

KR Republic of Korea

KW Kuwait

KZ Kazakhstan (EA)

LA Lao People’s Democratic Republic

LC Saint Lucia

LI Liechtenstein (EP)

LK Sri Lanka

LR Liberia (AP)

LS Lesotho (AP)

LT Lithuania (EP)2

LU Luxembourg (EP)

LV Latvia (EP)2

LY Libya

MA Morocco4

MC Monaco (EP)2

MD Republic of Moldova4

ME Montenegro5

MG Madagascar

MK North Macedonia (EP)

ML Mali (OA)2

MN Mongolia

MR Mauritania (OA)2

MT Malta (EP)2

MW Malawi (AP)

MX Mexico

MY Malaysia

MZ Mozambique (AP)

NA Namibia (AP)

NE Niger (OA)2

NG Nigeria

NI Nicaragua

NL Netherlands (EP)2

NO Norway (EP)

NZ New Zealand

OM Oman

PA Panama

PE Peru

PG Papua New Guinea

PH Philippines

PL Poland (EP)

PT Portugal (EP)

QA Qatar

RO Romania (EP)

RS Serbia (EP)

RU Russian Federation (EA)

RW Rwanda (AP)

SA Saudi Arabia

SC Seychelles

SD Sudan (AP)

SE Sweden (EP)

SG Singapore

SI Slovenia (EP)2

SK Slovakia (EP)

SL Sierra Leone (AP)

SM San Marino (EP)

SN Senegal (OA)2

ST Sao Tome and Principe (AP)

SV El Salvador

SY Syrian Arab Republic

SZ Eswatini (AP)2

TD Chad (OA)2

TG Togo (OA)2

TH Thailand

TJ Tajikistan (EA)

TM Turkmenistan (EA)

TN Tunisia6

TR Turkey (EP)

TT Trinidad and Tobago

TZ United Republic of Tanzania (AP)

UA Ukraine

UG Uganda (AP)

US United States of America

UZ Uzbekistan

VC Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

VN Viet Nam

WS Samoa (from 2 January 2020)

ZA South Africa

ZM Zambia (AP)

ZW Zimbabwe (AP)

 

Notes:

    1. Extension of European patent possible.
    2. May only be designated for a regional patent (the “national route” via the PCT has been closed).
    3. Validation of European patent possible for international applications filed on or after 1 March
    4. Validation of European patent
    5. Only extension of European patent possible. Applicants wishing to obtain patent protection in Montenegro should enter the regional phase before the European Patent Office (EPO) and seek the extension of the European patent application and the granted European patent to Montenegro as there is no national phase before the Intellectual Property Office of
    6. Validation of European patent possible for international applications filed on or after 1 December

Where a State can be designated for a regional patent, the two-letter code for the regional patent concerned is indicated in parentheses (AP = ARIPO patent, EA = Eurasian patent, EP = European patent, OA = OAPI patent).

Important: This list includes all States that have adhered to the PCT by the date shown in the heading. Any State indicated in bold italics has adhered to the PCT but will only become bound by the PCT on the date shown in parentheses; it will not be considered to have been designated in international applications filed before that date.

Note that even though the filing of a request constitutes under PCT Rule 4.9(a) the designation of all Contracting States bound by  the PCT on  the international filing date, for the grant of  every kind of  protection available and, where applicable, for the     grant of both regional and national patents, applicants should always use the latest version of the e-filing software used to generate the request form, or the latest versions of the request form (PCT/RO/101) and demand form (PCT/IPEA/401) (the latest versions are dated 1 July 2019). The request and demand forms can be printed from the website, in editable PDF format, at: https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/forms/, or obtained from receiving Offices or the International Bureau, or, in the case of the demand form, also from International Preliminary Examining Authorities. Where possible, applicants are encouraged to use ePCT-Filing in order to benefit from the most up to date PCT data.

(Source: https://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/pct/en/list_states.pdf)

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

Patent Cooperation Treaty

The World International Property Organisation explains the Patent Cooperation Treaty  as follows: (https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/registration/pct/summary_pct.html)

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in each of a large number of countries by filing an “international” patent application. Such an application may be filed by anyone who is a national or resident of a PCT Contracting State. It may generally be filed with the national patent office of the Contracting State of which the applicant is a national or resident or, at the applicant’s option, with the International Bureau of WIPO in Geneva. 

If the applicant is a national or resident of a Contracting State party to the European Patent Convention, the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (Harare Protocol), the Bangui Agreement, or the Eurasian Patent Convention, the international application may also be filed with the European Patent Office (EPO), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) or the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO), respectively.

The Treaty regulates in detail the formal requirements with which international applications must comply.

Filing a PCT application has the effect of automatically designating all Contracting States bound by the PCT on the international filing date. The effect of the international application is the same in each designated State as if a national patent application had been filed with the national patent office of that State.

The international application is subjected to an international search. That search is carried out by one of the competent International Searching Authorities (ISA) under the PCT and results in an international search report, that is, a listing of the citations of published documents that might affect the patentability of the invention claimed in the international application. In addition, a preliminary and non-binding written opinion on whether the invention appears to meet patentability criteria in light of the search report results is also issued.

The international search report and written opinion are communicated to the applicant who, after evaluating their content, may decide to withdraw the application, in particular where the content of the report and opinion suggests that the granting of patents is unlikely, or the applicant may decide to amend the claims in the application.

If the international application is not withdrawn, it is published by the International Bureau, together with the international search report. At the same time, the written opinion is made available on PATENTSCOPE.

Before the expiration of 22 months from the priority date, the applicant has the option to request a Supplementary International Searching Authority (SISA) (an ISA willing to offer this service) to carry out an additional search of relevant documentation, specifically focusing on documents in the particular language in which that authority specializes. The goal of this additional search is to reduce the likelihood of further documents coming to light in the national phase that would make granting the patent unlikely.

An applicant that decides to continue with the international application with a view to seeking national (or regional) patents can, in relation to most Contracting States, wait until the end of the thirtieth month from the priority date to commence the national procedure before each designated office by furnishing a translation (where necessary) of the application into the official language of that office, paying to it the necessary fees and acquiring the services of local patent agents.

If the applicant wishes to make amendments to the application – for example, in order to address documents identified in the search report and conclusions made in the written opinion – and to have the potential patentability of the “as-amended” application reviewed – an optional international preliminary examination may be requested. The result of the preliminary examination is an international preliminary report on patentability (IPRP Chapter II) which is prepared by one of the competent International Preliminary Examining Authorities (IPEA) under the PCT and which contains a preliminary and non-binding opinion on the patentability of the claimed invention. It provides the applicant with an even stronger basis on which to evaluate the chances of obtaining a patent and, if the report is favorable, a stronger basis on which to continue with the application before national and regional patent offices. If no international preliminary examination has been requested, the International Bureau establishes an international preliminary report on patentability (IPRP Chapter I) on the basis of the written opinion of the ISA and communicates this report to the designated offices.

The procedure under the PCT has numerous advantages for applicants, patent offices and the general public:

    1. applicants have up to 18 months more than if they had not used the PCT to reflect on the desirability of seeking protection in foreign countries, appoint local patent agents in each foreign country, prepare the necessary translations and pay national fees;
    2. applicants can rest assured that, if their international application is in the form prescribed by the PCT, it cannot be rejected on formal grounds by any designated office during the national phase;
      • on the basis of the international search report and the written opinion, applicants can evaluate with reasonable probability the chances of their invention being patented;
    1. applicants have the possibility, during the optional international preliminary examination, to amend the international application and thus put it in order before processing by the various patent offices;
    2. the search and examination work of patent offices can be considerably reduced or eliminated thanks to the international search report, the written opinion and, where applicable, the international preliminary report on patentability which are communicated to designated offices together with the international application;
    3. applicants are able to access fast-track examination procedures in the national phase in Contracting States that have PCT-Patent Prosecution Highway (PCT-PPH) agreements or similar arrangements;
      • since each international application is published with an international search report, third parties are in a better position to formulate a well-founded opinion about the potential patentability of the claimed invention; and
      • for applicants, international publication on PATENTSCOPE puts the world on notice of their applications, which can be an effective means of advertising and looking for potential licensees.

Ultimately, the PCT:

    • brings the world within reach;
    • streamlines the process of fulfilling diverse formality requirements;
    • postpones the major costs associated with international patent protection;
    • provides a strong basis for patenting decisions; and
    • is used by the world’s major corporations, research institutions and universities in seeking international patent protection.

The PCT created a Union which has an Assembly. Every State party to the PCT is a member of the Assembly. Among the most important tasks of the Assembly are the amendment of the Regulations issued under the Treaty, the adoption of the biennial program and budget of the Union and the fixing of certain fees connected with the use of the PCT system.

The Assembly of the PCT Union has established a special measure to benefit (1)  an applicant who is a natural person and who is a national of and resides in a State that is listed as being a State whose per capita gross domestic product is below US$ 25,000 (according to the most recent 10-year average per capita gross domestic product figures at constant 2005 US$ values published by the United Nations), and whose nationals and residents who are natural persons have filed less than 10 international applications per year (per million population) or less than 50 international applications per year (in absolute numbers) according to the most recent five-year average yearly filing figures published by the International Bureau, and (2) applicants, whether natural persons or not, who are nationals of and reside in a State that is listed as being classified by the United Nations as a LDC. That benefit consists of a reduction of 90 per cent of certain fees under the Treaty.

Details concerning the PCT can be obtained by consulting the PCT website, the PCT Applicant’s Guide, published by WIPO in English and French and the PCT Newsletter, published by WIPO in English.

The PCT was concluded in 1970, amended in 1979 and modified in 1984 and in 2001.

It is open to States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.

The patent offices of Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States of America, the European Patent Office, the Nordic Patent Institute and the Visegrad Patent Institute act as International Searching Authorities under the PCT (status on July 1, 2018). An agreement enabling the office of the Philippines to act as ISA has been signed; however, this office has not yet commenced operations.

The patent offices of Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States of America, the European Patent Office, the Nordic Patent Institute and the Visegrad Patent Institute act as International Preliminary Examining Authorities under the PCT (status on July 1, 2018). An agreement enabling the office of the Philippines to act as IPEA has been signed; however, this office has not yet commenced operations.”

In conclusion

Patents offer significant advantages that can be attractive not only to your company but to investors and financiers as they provide a level of protection. The downside is the time and cost involved in securing a patent. Whichever oath you decide upon it is important you weigh up all the factors first and seek professional advice.

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Terms used by software programmers and developers

Terms used by software programmers and developers

Terms used by software programmers and developers

As a creator of an idea that will become a software application you will spend a lot of time talking with developers, programmers and coders. It is not unusual to listen to a conversation or read something they have written and be confused about the terms they use and what they mean. This glossary has been compiled to assist with understanding the landscape.

 

TERM DESCRIPTION
3-tier application A program that is organized into three major parts: the workstation or presentation interface; the business logic; and the database and related programming. Each of these is distributed to one or more separate places on a network.
agile software development Calls for keeping code simple, testing often, and delivering small, functional bits of the application as soon as they’re ready. The focus is to build a succession of parts, rather than delivering one large application at the end of the project.
Amdahl’s law Stipulates that, in a program with parallel processing, a relatively few instructions that have to be performed in sequence will have a limiting factor on program speedup such that adding more processors may not make the program run faster.
amelioration pattern A design pattern that describes how to go from a bad solution to a better one.
antipattern A frequently used, but largely ineffective solution to a problem. The term was originally used to refer to a design pattern gone wrong
API

(application programming interface)

A specific method prescribed by a computer operating system or by an application program by which a programmer writing an application program can make requests of the operating system or another application
application integration The process of bringing data or a function from one application program together with that of another application program. Where these programs already exist, the process is sometimes realized by using middleware
application program A program designed to perform a specific function directly for the user or, in some cases, for another application program.
aspect-oriented programming

(AOP)

An approach to programming that allows global properties of a program to determine how it is compiled into an executable program.
back end

 

Part of a website or web service that makes it work and includes applications, web servers, and databases.
best practice A technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result.
bug A coding error in a computer program.
build A version of a program, usually pre-release, and identified by a build number, rather than by a release number. As a verb, to build can mean either to write code or to put individual coded components of a program together
build tool A programming utility that is used when building a new version of a program
C#

(C- Sharp)

 

C-sharp is a powerful, object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft in 2000. C-sharp is utilized in developing desktop applications and more recently, Windows 8/10 applications and requires a .NET framework to function. C# has a variety of features which makes it easier to learn for the beginners. The code is consistent, and logical as compared to C++. it is perfect to develop web applications, desktop application and also proved itself in VR, 2D, and 3D gaming. Cross-platform tools like Xamarin have written in C# makes it all devices compatible.
C/CPP C++ is seeing as more performing than dynamically typed languages because the code is type-checked before it is executed on real grounds. Core areas of developments are Virtual Reality, gaming, computer graphics.
Capability Maturity Model A methodology used to develop and refine an organization’s software development process. The model describes a five-level evolutionary path of increasingly organized and systematically more mature processes.
cloud computing Storing and accessing information and services via the internet instead of on your computer.
code

 

A simplified form of language with very strict rules and syntax used by humans to tell computers what to do.
coding language

 

A specific set of rules and syntax for writing the code that tells computers what to do. This includes programming, assembly and markup languages such as Ruby, PHP, and HTML.
color theory Characteristics of colors and the relationships between them.
computer programming The process of writing and implementing various instructions for a computer to do a particular task (or set of tasks), using code.
CSS

(Cascading Style Sheets)

Code that tells browsers how to format and style HTML for a web page and controls things such as font type and colors.
CSS3 The most current version of CSS.
data modelling The analysis of data objects that are used in a business or other context and the identification of the relationships among these data objects.
database Collection of electronic information (data) stored on a web server.
debugging The process of locating and fixing or bypassing bugs (errors) in computer program code or the engineering of a hardware device
design pattern A written document that describes a general solution to a design problem that recurs repeatedly in many projects
development environment The set of processes and programming tools used to create the program or software product
development process A set of tasks performed for a given purpose in a software development project
driver A program that interacts with a particular device or special kind of software. The driver contains special knowledge of the device or special software interface that programs using the driver do not
driver development kit

(DDK)

A set of programs and related files that are used to develop a new software or hardware driver or to update an existing legacy application driver for an operating system
elegant solution A solution in which the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest, or simplest effort
embedded systems programming The programming of an embedded system in some device using the permitted programming interfaces provided by that system
enterprise application integration The plans, methods, and tools aimed at modernizing, consolidating, and coordinating the computer applications in an enterprise
entity-relationship diagram A data modelling technique that creates a graphical representation of the entities, and the relationships between entities, within an information system
ergonomics The science of refining the design of products to optimize them for human use. Human characteristics, such as height, weight, and proportions are considered, as well as information about human hearing, sight, temperature preferences, and so on
exploratory model A systems development method that consists of planning and trying different designs until one of them seems to be the right one to develop
Extreme Programming A pragmatic approach to program development that emphasizes business results first, and takes an incremental, get-something-started approach to building the product, using continual testing and revision
feature creep A tendency for product or project requirements to increase during development beyond those originally foreseen, leading to features that weren’t originally planned and resulting risk to product quality or schedule
front end The part of a website that can be seen by users and is made up of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code
functional programming A style of programming that emphasizes the evaluation of expressions rather than the execution of commands
functional specification A formal document used to describe in detail for software developers a product’s intended capabilities, appearance, and interactions with users
Gantt chart A horizontal bar chart frequently used in project management that provides a graphical illustration of a schedule that helps to plan, coordinate, and track specific tasks in a project
gap analysis The study of the differences between two different information systems or applications, often for the purpose of determining how to get from one state to a new state. Sometimes spoken of as “the space between where we are and where we want to be.
genetic programming A model of programming which uses the ideas of biological evolution to handle a complex problem, most appropriate with problems in which there are a large number of fluctuating variables, such as those related to artificial intelligence.
gold code The final, ready-to-manufacture (that is, replicate onto media) version of the software.
grid system Set of columns and rows that can be used as guidelines to arrange content on a web page.
help system A documentation component of a software program that explains the features of the program and helps the user understand its capabilities.
hotfix Code (sometimes called a patch) that fixes a bug in a product
HTML

(Hypertext Markup Language)

A coding language used to put content on a web page and give it structure. Since HTML doesn’t tell computers to do anything, it’s not considered a programming language (this is a distinction that only matters in job interviews when an interviewer asks if you can “program”).
HTML element HTML code made up of an opening tag, a closing tag, and information between them.
HTML5 APP A web application designed specifically for use on mobile phones using the latest HTML5 and JavaScript technologies.
human factors The study of how humans behave physically and psychologically in relation to particular environments, products, or services
information architecture The set of ideas about how all information in a given context should be treated philosophically and, in a general way, how it should be organized; this is expressed in an information architecture document
information design The detailed planning of specific information that is to be provided to a particular audience to meet specific objectives. In one hierarchical model, the information design follows the information architecture and information planning stages
integrated development environment A programming environment that has been packaged as an application program, typically consisting of a code editor, a compiler, a debugger, and a GUI builder
ISV

(independent software vendor)

A company that makes and sells software products that run on one or more computer hardware or operating system platforms
iterative Describes a heuristic planning and development process where an application is developed in small sections called iterations
Java Java forms the base for the Android operating system and used for making a variety of back-end applications. Java is object-oriented and is robust, it is simpler than C++ because Java uses automatic memory allocation and garbage collection. Java is highly cross-platform compatible or platform independent. Since you can code anywhere (I mean on all devices), compile into low-level machine code, and finally, execute on any platform using JVM – Java Virtual Machine (which is platform dependent).
JavaScript JavaScript is light weighed, interpreted and plays a major role in front-end development. JavaScript provides an easy way to create interactive web pages smoothly.
joint application development A methodology that involves the client or end user in the design and development of an application, through a succession of collaborative workshops called JAD sessions
KISS Principle

(Keep It Simple, Stupid)

The principle that people want products that are easy to learn and use, and that companies realize time and cost benefits by producing such products
KLOC

(thousands of lines of code)

A traditional measure of how large a computer program is or how long or how many people it will take to write it, sometimes used as a rough measure of programmer productivity
Lean or Lean Startup A popular process for launching products and quickly iterating on them to better meet customer needs, based on continuous customer feedback. Think of it like agile but for companies. This term was popularized by the book The Lean Startup.
lean programming A concept that emphasizes optimizing efficiency and minimizing waste in the development of a computer program; the concept is also applicable to all enterprise practices
legacy application An enterprise application that is based on languages, platforms, and/or techniques that predate current technology
metric The measurement of a particular characteristic of a program’s performance or efficiency
Minimum Viable Product

(MVP)  

A product with the minimally adequate features to meet the needs of early adopters, often used to test a concept or idea without a huge outlay of resources.

Popular among lean startups.

mood board An inspirational collection of content showing the visual style for a website including color palette, images, icons, fonts, etc.
native APP A mobile app built using the software development kit (SDK) native to a specific mobile device.

Example: any app coded for the ios (Apple) operating system

Objective – C An object-oriented programming language. It is used by Apple for the OS X and iOS operating systems and their application programming interfaces (APIs).
object-oriented programming A programming model organized around objects rather than actions and data rather than logic, based on the idea that what we really care about are the objects we want to manipulate, rather than the logic required to manipulate them.
Object-Oriented Programming

(OOP)

A popular way to design software programs (commonly known as a design pattern) where code is organized into objects that have specific and unique attributes and abilities.

Example: A blog might include a blog post object that has a title, date, and content attribute

Examples of OOP language: Ruby, PHP, Python

open source Describes a program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit.
outsourcing An arrangement in which one company provides services for another company that could also be or usually have been provided in-house
Pasta Theory of Programming The idea that various programming structures can be likened to the structures of well-known pasta dishes: unstructured procedural programming is called spaghetti code , structured programming is called lasagne code , and object-oriented programming is called ravioli code
patch A quick-repair job for the problems in a piece of programming, often available for download through the software maker’s Web site
pattern See design pattern
peer review A process used for checking the work performed by one’s equals (peers) to ensure it meets specific criteria.
PERT chart

(Program Evaluation Review Technique)

A project management tool used to schedule, organize, and coordinate tasks within a project developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1950s.
PHP PHP stands for Hypertext Pre-processor, is a general-purpose programming language. Clearly, PHP is a scripting language, which runs on a server, and it is used to create web pages written in HTML. It is popular because it is free, cheap, easy to set up and simple to use for new programmers. PHP is a very strong option for web developers around the globe. It is widely used to create dynamic web page content, and images used on websites. Also, PHP is well dressed for WordPress CMS (Content Management System).
polymorphism From the Greek meaning “having multiple forms,” the characteristic of being able to assign a different meaning or usage to something in different contexts – specifically, to allow an entity such as a variable, a function, or an object to have more than one form.
portability A characteristic attributed to a computer program if it can be used in an operating system other than the one in which it was created without requiring major rework.
PRINCE2 A project management methodology developed by the government of the United Kingdom that makes use of the best proven practices from a variety of industries and backgrounds.
program layer A separate functional component that interacts with others in some sequential and hierarchical way, with each layer usually having an interface only to the layer above it and the layer below it.
programming language Technically a subset of coding languages that specifically tell computers what to do vs. How to display something. For example, HTML and CSS are not considered programming languages but instead are markup languages.
project planning A discipline for stating how to complete a project within a certain timeframe, usually with defined stages, and with designated resources.
prototyping A systems development method (SDM) in which a prototype (an early approximation of a final system or product) is built, tested, and then reworked as necessary until an acceptable prototype is finally achieved from which the complete system or product can now be developed.
pseudocode A detailed yet readable description of what a computer program or algorithm must do, expressed in a formally styled natural language rather than in a programming language.
Python A general purpose, user-friendly programming language that is clear, intuitive and almost similar to the English language.  It is popular in areas like scientific computing, and machine learning and engineering, Python supports a programming style that uses simple functions and variables.
rapid application development

(RAD)

An approach based on the concept that products can be developed faster and of higher quality through gathering requirements using workshops or focus groups; prototyping and early, reiterative user testing of designs; reusing software components; and using less formality in communication documents, such as reviews.
Rational Unified Process

(RUP)

An object-oriented and Web-enabled program development methodology that is said to be like an online mentor that provides guidelines, templates, and examples for all aspects and stages of program development.
refactoring A process that improves the internal structure of a software system without changing its external behaviour.
regression testing The process of testing changes to computer programs to make sure that the older programming still works with the new changes.
responsive design & development A way to design and code websites such that they can adapt to different-sized devices like phones, tablets, wearable devices, etc.
risk management The process of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the activities of an organization in order to minimize the effects of risk on an organization’s capital and earnings.
ROI

(return on investment)

For a given use of money in an enterprise, the amount of profit or cost saving realized.
Ruby Ruby has dynamically typed language, it does not have hard rules and it is a high-level language which resembles with the English language to a great extent. Ruby can build an application with less line of code.
runtime When a program is running.
SDK

(software development kit)

A set of programs used by a computer programmer to write application programs.
SDK (software development kit) Set of tools for creating a specific kind of software.
semantic element

 

HTML element that gives the browser more information about the content in it.

Examples: aside (for sidebars), header, footer.

service pack An orderable or downloadable update to a customer’s software that fixes existing problems and, in some cases, delivers product enhancements.
shotgun debugging The debugging of a program, hardware, or system problem using the approach of trying several possible solutions at the same time in the hope that one of them will work.
sitemap An outline or map of the pages needed for a website. Usually drawn using lines and boxes to visualize the hierarchy of pages.
smoke testing Non-exhaustive software testing, ascertaining that the most crucial functions of a program work, but not bothering with finer details.
software development The process of programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining all manner of software applications and frameworks.
spaghetti code Computer programming that is unnecessarily convoluted, and particularly programming code that uses frequent branching from one section of code to another.
spiral model A systems development method (SDM) that combines the features of the prototyping model and the waterfall model.
SQL SQL (es-que-el) stands for Structured Query Language, is a programming language to operate databases. It includes storing, manipulating and retrieving data stored in a relational database. SQL keeps data precise and secure, and it also helps in maintaining the integrity of databases, irrespective of its size. SQL is used today across web frameworks and database applications. If you are well versed in SQL, you can have better command over data exploration, and effective decision making.
SSADM

(Structured Systems Analysis & Design Method)

A widely used computer application development method in the UK that divides an application development project into modules, stages, steps, and tasks, and provides a framework for describing projects in a fashion suited to managing the project.
structured programming A subset of procedural programming that enforces a logical structure on the program being written to make it more efficient and easier to understand and modify.
Swift Swift is a general-purpose, open-source, compiled programming language developed by Apple Inc.  Swift was designed to be beginner-friendly and fun to use. Swift is considered to be a faster, more secure, and easier to read and debug than its predecessor Objective-C.
synchronize-and-stabilize A systems development life cycle model in which teams work in parallel on individual application modules, frequently synchronizing their code with that of other teams, and debugging (stabilizing) code regularly throughout the development process.
systems development life cycle model

(SDLC)

One of a number of structured approaches to information system development, created to guide all the processes involved, from an initial feasibility study through maintenance of the completed application. Models include the waterfall model; rapid application development (rad); joint application development (jad); the fountain model; the spiral model; build and fix; and synchronize-and-stabilize.
systems development method

(SDM)

A work discipline that is chosen by the developers of a computer system or product as a way to ensure successful results.
systems thinking A holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems.
TCO

(total cost of ownership)

A type of calculation designed to help consumers and enterprise managers assess both direct and indirect costs and benefits related to the purchase of any IT component.
text editor Software used to write plain text (text with no formatting) that’s used for coding and programming. Examples: sublimetext, textedit, textwrangler, Notepad++
Tool Kit

(Tk)

A companion program to Tool Command Language (Tcl) for creating graphical user interfaces. Together with Tcl, Tk is a rapid program development tool.
UI (user interface) How a website is laid out and how users interact with it.
user acceptance testing A phase of software development in which the software is tested in the “real world” by the intended audience.
user flow Map of the path users take from getting to a website to taking an action on the site.
user interface Everything designed into an information device with which a human being may interact — including display screen, keyboard, mouse, light pen, the appearance of a desktop, illuminated characters, help messages, and how an application program or a Web site invites interaction and responds to it.
user persona Profile of an imaginary person who would use a website; used to define who a site is for and what their needs are.
user research Investigating how users act and what they need and want in order to better design a website for them.
utility  A small program that provides an addition to the capabilities provided by the operating system.
UX (USER EXPERIENCE) What a user experiences when they browse a website. This can range from straightforward usability (can they accomplish a given task?) To the less tangible (what do they feel when they’re on the website?).
version control Software used to keep track of changes to code files, similar to the Track Changes feature of Word. Used by software teams so that they can work on the same code files at the same time without overwriting one another’s work.

Example: Git, Subversion

virtual reality or VR A computer-generated simulation of a three- dimensional environment that users can interact with in a somewhat realistic way, often using equipment like a helmet with a screen or interactive gloves.
waterfall model

 

Popular version of the systems development life cycle model that describes a linear and sequential development method.
web app or web application A website with complex functionality and heavy interactivity.

Example: Twitter, Facebook, Bank of America

web application framework A series of pre-written code that is used by developers as a starting point to build their web applications.

Examples: Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap, angularjs

web designer A designer who specializes in designing websites and web applications.
web developer A software developer who specializes in coding websites and web applications.
web services Services made available from a business’s Web server for Web users or other Web-connected programs.
wireframe A simple sketch of the key information that goes on each web page, usually done in black and white with boxes, line, and placeholder text.
write-only code Programming code that is hard to read.
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