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  • #997030
    Innofy IP
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    G’day all:

    Last month I launched a new intellectual property services provider – Innofy.

    I would appreciate any comments you have on my website: http://www.innofy.com.au.

    I have worked for years at at a top Australian intellectual property firm, before embarking on this project. My ex-colleague and I recently realised that we both saw the same problems with the industry – and the only way we could operate in a refreshing new way was to start a start-up of our own!

    We are hoping to shake up the industry by providing top tier trade mark and patent services for a fraction of the cost of our competitors. I think that industry professionals have been allowed to charge significant amounts for administrative tasks purely because of their position as a registered attorney. We (also registered attorneys) have developed, and are continuing to develop, bespoke software solutions to allow the straightforward administrative tasks to be automated. Importantly – our commercial advantage results in substantial cost savings to our clients.

    So, that’s a little about my new business. If anyone has any tips and tricks then I would love to hear your advice. In the first few weeks – things have gone pretty well, but it doesn’t stop the gut-wrenching moments when you wonder if you have made a big mistake!

    I look forward to contributing value to the forums in future.

    Thanks,

    Andrew

    #1210060
    Precise Tax Solutions
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    Having recently looked in to pricing of a patent lawyer, I think you’re on to a good thing!

    Good luck with the business :)

    Cheers

    #1210061
    Johny
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    When I read your website the one thing that immediately came to mind was how many times price/cost is mentioned. The innovation you mention seems to be based around having systems in place that reduce cost or applying for the various IP. That in itself is not a bad thing of course.

    But true disruption/innovation of IP requires a change to the actual way patents TM’s etc are managed, in my view. Worldwide it is a process that is both costly and burdemsome, and that’s only the start.

    I have spoken to many who have had IP registered and a large number of them feel the protection has not benefited them. Their work has been copied in markets, new products have been developed with enough difference to avoid being considered copies and the biggest one of course being that, even with protections in place, actually protecting the IP is out of reach for most small businesses – due to the costs.

    So if you can make the front end a more smooth and cost effective process then good on you. Doing the same at the back end where that actual protection is acted upon would be true innovation and disruption.

    #1210062
    Innofy IP
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    Thanks for your comments, Johny.

    Perhaps your “many” contacts received poor advice about the value of their IP and how to extract value from it? To suggest that small businesses cannot benefit from their intellectual property is definitely not a view I share.

    I suspect that most your examples refer to patents (because they seem to relate to the protection of the actual product). However, they don’t sit quite right to me.

    Manufacturing a patented product in an alternative market, and selling or distributing in Australia, would still infringe the relevant patent. So – this isn’t really a problem. If someone is doing it in a market you have no protection in – then it presumably isn’t commercially important to you (or perhaps a mistake was made!).

    Developing new products with “enough difference” to avoid infringement is possible. But a robust patent would be directed to the new functioning of the technology – so developing a new product is not straightforward. Certainly, any credible patent attorney would advise a client on the scope of their patent when discussing the available options. We would certainly not consider filing a patent application envisaging claims that could easily be avoided by a competitor (unless there was an overarching commercial reason to do so).

    Finally, the idea that registered IP is worthless unless you can afford to enforce it is unfounded. Although I often hear this or similar comments bandied around – in my many years working as an IP attorney, I don’t actually think I have ever heard of a start-up filing a patent application with a view to enforce it! There are countless other, and arguably more important, reasons to register your intellectual property. This is a good idea for a blog post – watch this space!!

    I certainly don’t want to bore you with all of the reasons why protecting your IP is important – but as a single example – a trade mark application for your company name is almost an essential tool in the establishment of a new business. This is because a trade mark provides you with a legal right to actually use your business name. A lot of people don’t understand that simply registering your business name and domain name doesn’t actually ensure that you are free to use that name (only a trade mark can provide this security). Time and time again clients come to me after registering their business name only to receive a letter from a trade mark owner of the same phrase – kindly requesting they stop using their much loved business name. A trade mark really does do more than simply stop any others from using your name (and for only a couple of hundred bucks – I can’t think of anything of better value!).

    I’m afraid that I’m not entirely sure what you mean about revolutionising the back-end of the intellectual property system – but would appreciate your further comments on this. Are you aware that IP is a legal right, and that legal rights are typically administered independently by each individual country (just as all legal legislation is)? I’m not sure that it would even be possible for a single company to have much success in reinventing the global intellectual property system!! But how I wish we could! :)

    In saying that – please rest assured that we have a lot going on behind the scenes (not yet advertised) to make sizeable change as to what is possible in the industry! I wouldn’t underestimate what we intend to do as just being Mickey-mouse minor alterations like the pre-filling of a form.

    #1210063
    Johny
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    Some comments in reply and further info for your questions:-

    I should point out my dealings are mostly within Asia (China more specifically), so I generally take a much broader brush than what happens in Australia. But it is something becoming more and more relevant as many Australian companies (big and small) are starting to look to Asia for selling their wares and services.

    I did write a rather lengthy reply (longer than this one with some examples), but deleted it for a couple of reasons, one being that you haven’t read what I wrote properly. I never said there was no benefit or that patents were worthless. I think the system is unnecessarily convoluted – which of course benefits some more than others.

    I do see some benefit in them, but one underlying feature is that if you are registering IP it is because you want to protect it. Protecting it may require defending it at some point. If that’s not presented as something to consider then not sure the value of lawyer services being offered.

    Someone is only going to copy your idea/name etc when it is already proven to be successful. There is little point in doing it otherwise.

    If a small Aussie business comes up with something good and it gets copied in China, that small Aussie company is going to need decent amount of funds to defend it. A lot don’t have it.

    Even the big guys get it wrong when dealing with IP in overseas juristrictions. But if you think companies entering places like China aren’t thinking about protecting their IP then not much more I can say on that.

    And that’s what I am referring to in relation to the back end. If IP needs to be protected it is costly, and the systems in each country are different making it even more complicated. Just the aspect of registering a Chinese name is something to be considered if entering in China for example.

    #1210064
    Innofy IP
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    I think a lot of the convolution comes from the fact that the intellectual property systems of each country are largely independent from one another. Let’s just leave it at – we’re working on it!

    I think it is also worth distinguishing between situations where the Chinese company manufacturing a protected product for sale/distribution within China – which I agree could be expensive to do much about. But – if the Chinese manufactured product was intended for distribution/sale in Australia – then I disagree that it is expensive to put a stop to it.

    From my experience, most Aussie distributors would not touch imported product as soon as they realise that there is a potential patent infringement. The risk simply isn’t worth it to them. I have seen, time and time again, individuals import Chinese manufactured product into Aus for distribution by an IGA or the like. As soon as IGA (or any other similar retailer) catch wind that there is potential IP infringement – they will typically send back all product and not pay a cent for it. This creates a huge risk for the importing individual – who is left with large volumes of the product that he simply can’t shift.

    As much as I do respect your opinion, as it is clear that you have had negative experiences, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree that an owner of an IP right should be concerned about having to defend that right. From experience, I have found that most small businesses use their IP to either: (1) increase company value / attract investment (how much to the Sharks’ eyes light up once they hear in the pitch that there is a patent application pending); and (2) simply as a deterrent. The vast majority of companies don’t set out to infringe patent rights.

    There really aren’t many Samsung and Googles out their that love nothing more than a good litigation fight!

    #1210065
    bb1
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    Innofy IP, post: 250714, member: 100157 wrote:
    There really aren’t many Samsung and Googles out their that love nothing more than a good litigation fight!

    unfortunately most on this forum are small or Micro business’s who don’t have the budgets of Samsung and Google to fight a breach..

    #1210066
    Innofy IP
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    Of course! I wasn’t for a second suggesting otherwise!

    #1210067
    Johny
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    I think a lot of the convolution comes from the fact that the intellectual property systems of each country are largely independent from one another. Let’s just leave it at – we’re working on it!

    Agreed. But that In itself is one reason for the costs associated with it all.

    Admittedly, I am more interested in examples where products are going the other way, from Oz, rather than imported to. But as I said, I see that as becoming much more important as these Aussie businesses need to become more literate about doing business sin Asia.

    The vast majority of companies don’t set out to infringe patent rights.

    But there are plenty of companies/individuals sitting on some sort of IP. It is almost an industry in itself in Chinea

    Here is an example:

    http://www.wilsonelser.com/news_and_insights/insights/2329-chinese_court_stuns_new_balance_with_16_million

    (This was a case New Balance actually lost. I seem to recall their attorney citing a win not long after because they managed to get the payment reduced. Hardly a win in my eyes.

    Interestingly, I was in China just after this ruling and walked past a shop selling NB shoes. New Bailone was the brand name, but with the NB logo.

    And there are many more that include large companies including the likes of Chanel (from memory)

    #1210068
    Paul – FS Concierge
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    Hi And Welcome to Flying Solo. It is great to have you Andrew!

    Thanks for joining and posting today.

    Good luck in your new endeavors.

    Cheers

    #1210069
    JacquiPryor
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    A late welcome Andrew… I saw a post on another thread, and being a trade marks attorney myself your signature and profession jumped out. Congratulations on starting your own business – always a big leap!

    I think we have similar goals in our business, and my experience is suggesting a lot of the smaller or more ’boutique’ style providers are moving towards fixed fees and doing away with hourly billing as well. I know I work a lot with smaller/start up businesss so having certain budgets is of course useful. I also share the idea of wanting to provide the quality (trademark) services without the same ‘price tag’ often associated with them so we’re on the same page.

    I visited your website mostly because I saw in your signature “applications $400” – and thought “how’s he doing that?!” and see now it’s your professional fee – makes more sense… still definitely competitive! Look forward to seeing you around the boards here :)

    I don’t work in patents at all, so will add you to the list if a QLD client ever needs patent assistance.

    #1210070
    Innofy IP
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    Thanks for your kind words, Jacqui.

    I guess it is a big leap in reality. But – we were so confident in what we could offer that it seemed like an obvious decision to leave our stable jobs in a top traditional firm!

    Thanks for offering to refer patent clients to us. That’s really kind of you.

    Let me know if you are ever in Brisbane – and it would be great to meet up for a coffee and to shoot the breeze.

    #1210071
    Stephen_Ingram
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    Hi Andrew,
    Welcome to Flying Solo. Using an ‘agile’ model to reduce bloated administration seems a logical method for your business model and hopefully have an on-flow to clients. I’m unsure how your approach to being disruptive in the IP sector is going, from my understanding there are a number of boutique IP company’s which are more flexible than the top tier and can offer fixed costing.

    I used to, many years ago, seconded from a UK university with the UK Government’s Business Links as a technology consultant. At the time I found small to medium size business had absolutely amazing innovators, just needing a nudge to find funding and suppliers to really move their business. IP wasn’t highly thought of then, with many SMEs shunning due to cost and lack of knowledge of the benefits.

    I think your point of difference must be your connection with your clients, building a rapport and working relationship which is similar to say, a personal trainer, educating to help keep the business’ IP portfolios healthy. Personally i would like to see better outreach to the small business community, something i hav an interest in with IP. The benefit of building a connection like this will see you grow with your clients. Then trust would underpin a strong working relationship.

    I enjoyed viewing your website and applaud your values about quality time over quantity. Having a fresh view on productivity work hours is a great step in the right direction. Having a flexible work environment should assist you to attract some talented people, without losing quality. Not to mention you could consider SME flexibility and deliver a strong customer service base by building value in availability?

    Best regards

    Stephen

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