Our Editors often use this space to laud the industry’s capacity for innovation and problem-solving. Next month, during the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating, one of the speakers will ask if the industry is doing enough to protect its investment in that innovation.
In Berlin, Patent Attorney Deborah Maxwell will liken the failure of a business to consider protecting its intellectual property to its owners deliberately leaving the doors open each night, exposing the enterprise’s most valuable assets to theft. Lengthy and expensive commitments to research and development (R&D) can be instantly undermined if, once a product is brought to market, a company’s competitors are free to learn from and copy the innovation.
Smart socks are just one of the garments that are being developed at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University using a patented invention—a flexible, washable yarn embedded with microelectronic devices. The Siren Smart Sock System
works by measuring temperature with thermistors that are less than a third of a millimetre long and aims to give an early warning of the onset of diabetic foot ulcers.
Patent protection itself can be a lengthy and expensive process, but this does not justify an unconsidered dismissal of its merits, even by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), she will argue. In certain cases, the continual development of products and services is a valid alternative strategy, particularly in a fast-moving market such as technical textiles, but a complete analysis of the costs and benefits of protecting intellectual property needs to be made on a case-by-case basis, including considering the other forms of protection (often simpler and cheaper) that can be applied, as well as a proper assessment of the longevity of the underlying concept.
Further, she will describe how the rights themselves can be used to generate revenue for a business and even attract investment.
Those joining us from 8–9 November can learn more during the presentation and by talking to Deborah and her colleague at the event, and to get a fuller justification for learning more about the advantages of protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) read her introductory article, Protecting cutting-edge ideas and maximizing their benefits, on this site (to be followed by two more over the coming months).
To find out more about the complete range of topics relating to the coating and laminating industry to be discussed next month, check out the complete programme here.