However great your device design and technology may be, to maximise the return on your time, energy and money, you need to protect the innovation.
Without that, your idea is basically worth so much less! Worse still, you may find that your innovation steps on someone else’s toes, so you can’t sell it.
If you had a sense of what you needed to do, to take care of this, what would you then do?
After watching this video, you may want to think about how you’ll put what you learn into action.
In this bite-size video, we’ll continue our exploration of the map of medical device development.
We’re taking a look at the Intellectual Property track, it’s an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to:
- Ensure you’re able to develop your innovation,
- Protect your valuable intellectual property (or IP as it’s often called),
- Secure the value of your idea.
In the time available to us, we can’t go into great detail, so please get in touch to find out more.
It’s all about checking that your idea is novel, doesn’t infringe anyone else’s idea, and then protecting it so that you get a breathing space to see a return on all your hard work, time, energy and resources.
Our journey starts with:
Checking for what’s known as “Prior Art” – this is looking to see if your invention is already known.
It doesn’t need to exist physically or be on sale. It is enough that someone, has described or shown or made something that includes a use of technology that is very similar to your invention.
An existing product is the most obvious example here. But, just because you can’t find a product containing your invention, don’t make the mistake of assuming that it must be novel.
You should also look for what’s known as competing art. These are ideas that may not be at all like yours but do the same job. If you find some, all is not lost, as you can learn a lot from other solutions.
A major risk, particularly in sectors like healthcare, is that an innovation can be blocked by a competitor who holds a patent for something that’s incorporated within your product. That’ s why you really should ensure that you have “freedom to operate” before embarking on costly development activities.
Design Review – Confirm you’re on the right track and make sound project decisions based on concrete data. Search for our video “4 w’s of Design Review” to learn more about these.
At some point you must legally protect your IP, or you won’t be able to:
- Disclose it safely,
- Be recognised in law as its owner,
- Profit from its commercialising it,
- Prevent or discourage its unauthorised use by others.
Protection could be in the form of a patent, copyright, design or brand protection.
This is a very complex legal area, that’s rightly the domain of Patent Attorneys. However, to get you started, the European Patent Office have some very useful materials: https://www.epo.org/learning-events/materials/inventors-handbook.html
It’s often the case with medical devices, that what they look like can be covered by “Design Protection”. As long as it is really “new” and has individual character (that is, it doesn’t mimic something already in existence), then you can assert a “Design Right”. There are two choices here:
- You can seek forma l registration, or
- Rely upon rights provided by it simply being in use. – a bit like Copyright.
Your brand is the part of your company that the outside world sees. People buy into that brand and recognise it. So, it may well make sense to protect both it, and your medical device, from others attempting to either undermine it, or pass their products off as yours.
Confirm IP Protection – Having done all these things, you’ll want to get started with the process of securing Patents, Design Rights and brand protection. Each of these probably takes longer than you’d like, so get to grips with them early in development,and certainly before Industrialisation. By this stop, you’ll be putting the finishing touches to applications, and hopefully awaiting award of protections.
As you watched this video, you’ll have started to think about how you can go about addressing each of these stops properly, making the best of each step of your journey. You may now want to get some guidance to turn your thoughts into concrete actions.
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