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Case study: Tyne and Wear Marine Ltd on the importance of patent protection

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 12 March 2016

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While many businesses in the retail industry are aware of intellectual property and its power, there a number of other industries that are still unaware of the benefits they could receive from IP.

A business that was in the dark about what they were missing out on is Tyne and Wear Marine Ltd who have been providing services to the marine and civil engineering industries for the last 30 years.

They first became aware of IP, specially patents, when they were looking to develop a new product. Spotting a gap in the market, the company developed a new bollard testing system that they were designing for a customer.

With very limited knowledge on IP and whether it was something they needed to consider when developing the product, they had to rely on external experience from a consultant

 Jeff, the managing director of the company, explains the situation and says “A consultant we were working with had experience in patent protection. Based on their knowledge, we started our IP journey. We hired a patent attorney who gathered a lot of information about our product and process. They checked this against the patents already registered to see if we were creating something new”.

With the experts on board that they needed to pursue the new project, Tyne and Wear Marine moved forward and submitted an application to register a patent.

A patent is used to protect a completely new product or process. These can be very technical and can be quite costly but does stop anyone else from using that product therefore creating a monopoly over that market. It is also the best advice to gain expert assistance if you are looking to pursue any patent applications as they can be time consuming and complicated.

With TWM’s application they had a number of opinions in relation to where they could register their patent. In the end they choose to register their patent under the Patent Cooperation Treaty which can gain them protection is a number of countries through one application as opposed to just in the UK.

Tyne and Wear Marine ltd patent application was submitted for protection in a number of countries including Canada, South Africa and Nigeria.

They will receive protection in these countries once the patent has been granted.

Jeff was astounded by the benefits they received so quickly after submitting their application. Talking about this, he said “The recognition we received after applying for the patent raised the credibility and reputation of the business. It also helped us realise that we were leading the way in innovation in our industry. Because of this, we set up a new company called Bollard Load Testing Limited (BLT).”

Moving forward with their new found knowledge, the future of the business is looking bright with further expansion internationally.

Giving advice to any other businesses who are hesitant about their next step to better IP protection, Jeff has said “Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to get the products to market and see a return on investment. Choose your advisors wisely and have trust in them. When working with a patent attorney, get the process explained in a way that aids your understanding. What will happen, by who and when? What will the potential costs be? This will help you consider the costs of securing your rights and whether it’ll be profitable.”

For any further information and guidance about patents and how effective they can be for you and your business, get in contact with Lawdit Solicitors.

If you'd like to know more about this article please send an email to Ellis Sweetenham quoting the article title and any questions you might have, alternatively call the office number on 02380 235 979 or send an enquiry through our contact form.

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