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From the record number of patents issued in 2019, one thing is clear, intellectual property protection continues to be a cornerstone of businesses both big and small. “2019 saw a new high-watermark of 333,530 patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.” (Tech Crunch) When it comes to intellectual property protection, startups and corporations understand that the road to success involves patents.
“The [2019 patent] figures are notable for a few reasons. One is that this is the most patents ever granted in a single year; and the second that this represents a 15% jump on a year before.”
“The high overall number speaks to the enduring interest in safeguarding IP, while the 15% jump has to do with the fact that patent numbers actually dipped last year (down 3.5%) while the number that were filed and still in application form (not granted) was bigger than ever. If we can draw something from that, it might be that filers and the USPTO were both taking a little more time to file and process, not a reduction in the use of patents altogether.” (Tech Crunch)
Patents continue to be a way to protect your product from copycats and counterfeiters. To help you get acquainted with patents and the patent process, below are a few basics about intellectual property protection.
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. There are three types of patents: utility, design and plant patents.
“A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.” (USPTO)
Design patents are often overlooked and underutilized compared to the more common utility patents. “Five percent of all patent applications (more than 30,000 per year) are design patents.” (Upcounsel) Design patents focus on the exterior design, features and overall aesthetics of the product. Utility patents focus on the functionality and features of your invention.
Design patents extend to what is exactly shown in the line drawings, nothing more. “Some products might need multiple design patents. Each would cover a specific physical feature of the proposed product. Cars, for instance, require many design patents.” (Upcounsel) Having high-quality professional line drawings by a CAD designer is extremely advantageous. With a design patent, you are able to use the coveted phrases, patent pending and patent issued on all marketing material, and have confidence that your invention is protected for the next fourteen years. Also. when it comes to cost, design patents are considerably cheaper to file than utility patents.
Utility patents focus solely on the inner workings of your invention, its unique functions and overall usefulness. “While a utility patent is harder to get, it offers better coverage. The utility patent has stronger intellectual property protections built into the patent system.” (Upcounsel) An invention is deemed useful if it provides an identifiable benefit and is capable of use. People often refer to utility patents as “patents for invention”. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, ninety-percent of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents. With a utility patent your invention will be protected for the next twenty years.
Often times, proper patent protection can mean the difference between success and failure for a hardware startup.
Our team works closely with the Hawaii State Bar Association and understands the importance of patent protection for startups. If you have a question related to patent protection, please send us an email at email@example.com.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
3D printing is a technology that has the ability to capture everyone’s imagination, however we need to remember that it is, in a sense, a secondary process and a lot of work comes before you start printing. We all see those fantastic time-lapse 3D printing videos floating around the internet, where in a mere minute you can watch a 3D printer bring a product to life. What you can’t see is the design and testing that comes beforehand.
Before you even get going with 3D printing, you must come up with your design. On the surface this seems simple enough, however one of the benefits of 3D printing is your ability to design shapes without traditional constraints. Less constraints mean that complex geometries can shine. 3D printing gives new meaning to “thinking outside of the box” when it comes to product design.
With 3D printing technology, complex geometries, internal features and built-in interlocking objects with no assembly required are all possible. With these additional design capabilities, 3D printing creates new product design opportunities.
Once you come up with a design, it’s time to develop it in a CAD program. This CAD file feeds the 3D printing machine the information that it needs to create the object.
“Not only does a CAD file help save time when figuring out all the finer details of a part by looking at the 3D model, but it also allows a model to be magnified and even rotate on any axis to get a full three-dimensional concept of the part, which allows you a greater sense of the product. Using CAD makes it possible to simulate the movement of a part as well.” (Vista Industrial)
3D CAD has come a long way in recent years. You can design and stress test your product design all right on the computer. CAD simulations let you get a real feel for your product—how it looks, moves and does under pressure. The ability to do this means that you can refine your design before it is ever 3D printed.
Once you have cleared these hurdles and are happy with your design, it’s then time to head to the 3D printer. Depending on the size of your product, print times can take a few hours.
Fun fact, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Boeing still hold the record for “Largest solid 3D-printed item“, with the 3D printed wing trim tool that took 30 hours to make.
Assuming that you aren’t trying to break any Guinness World Records with print size, using 3D printing is a great way to cut down on the time it takes to get a customized part or prototype in your hand. Short turnaround, complex geometries and customization are the main benefits to 3D printing technology and the reason many businesses and entrepreneurs turn to this technology for assistance.
Have additional 3D printing questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
Deciding to develop a product and build a startup is a big undertaking and the more support you have around you, the more likely you are to succeed. Ten years ago, if you wanted to build a hardware product, moving to Silicon Valley or New York to find support seemed like the only option for success. Today this is not the case. Now more than ever entrepreneurs are building their businesses in their hometown and finding success.
It’s no secret that the cost of living in major tech hubs is astronomical and upfront costs to get your business going also come at a premium. Instead of shelling out that money for rent, put it to better use in your business to foster its growth. Less money towards the basics means that you can hire that salesman, upgrade your packaging, add a new feature—you see where we are going with this.
Chances are that if you are in a large enough city, there are other businesses out there supporting the startup community. You don’t necessarily need to find an industry specific support network, but instead a network that has the skillset your startup requires. Here in Hawaii, we provide product development support to hardware startups in a wide-range of industries. Our client, The Baby Toon, which is an innovative baby spoon designed with safety as the focus, was recently featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank.
Cities all over the nation, and really the world, are realizing that creating a friendly startup ecosystem is good for business. Startup support might come from government programs, local universities, or corporate sponsorships—there is going to be support available, your job is to seek it out.
Through local relationships and organizations, you may gain access to anything from low-interest loans to access to venture capital that’s limited to local businesses, and opportunities to speak at local business events.
Networking is an often-overlooked aspect when you build a startup. Your network matters.
The benefit of launching your startup where you live is that you know people and have years-long relationships built with them already. You have an established community. Even if you’re not in a tech hub, you’re bound to be surrounded by business owners of some sort.
Maybe you know a local manufacturer that can help explain the manufacturing process to you and make introductions for you with their contacts. Perhaps you are neighbors with a local baker that excels at social media, and he/she is willing to give you a crash course on what you need to know to get started.
Building true connections in major tech hubs is nearly impossible. Personal relationships and real connections are hard to come by. However, this is not the case in your hometown.
Your ability to connect with local business leaders that you admire, city and state politicians, and other entrepreneurs is going to be much easier in a smaller city. Your access to people like this will help you successfully navigate the road to success as you build a startup.
The Rise of the Rest movement shows exactly what is happening to the startup landscape across the United States. Startups are interrupting large and established industries with new ideas and innovative products from smaller cities across the country. Investors are looking beyond established tech hubs for innovative startups and entrepreneurs that have the passion to succeed.
Start your new year, new decade and new business with a positive mindset and the goal to succeed. Make 2020 the year you build a startup.
If you have any questions about the product development process please send us an email at email@example.com.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
As 2019 comes to a close our 3D Innovations team is looking back on the year and setting goals for 2020. This past year was especially rewarding as we helped a number of entrepreneurs launch their business ideas and assisted other businesses with various product development and manufacturing solutions. We also saw The Baby Toon make a splash on ABC’s Shark Tank and secure a deal with Lori Greiner.
Below are a few of our top blog posts from the past year.
While the focus is on educating students around the four subjects—science, technology, engineering and math—the true value of these subject areas goes far beyond an engineering career or science major. STEM education provides a solid foundation for entrepreneurship.
Our 3D Innovations client, The Baby Toon, was featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank and was able to successfully secure a deal with Lori Greiner. Inventor of The Baby Toon, Cassidy Crowley (age 10), and her family have been on this startup journey for three years now and watching it culminate with a deal on Shark Tank was certainly a highlight for them and us.
For many inventors a licensing agreement is often a great option since it lets them develop a product, but then puts the expenses associated with commercialization on a more experienced manufacturer.
3D printing technology, also referred to as additive manufacturing, allows you to explore design possibilities without typical design constraints. This means that new shapes and figures that are not easily manufactured, or that are impossible to manufacture with traditional manufacturing methods, are now within the realm of possibility. Complex geometries, quick turnaround times and customization are a few of the main reasons that 3D printing has risen to popularity among a number of top industries: aerospace, automobile, dentistry and medical industries have all embraced additive manufacturing technology.
A product development firm should be your partner in this startup journey. Having a great product idea is exciting, executing that idea though can be a bit tricky since the road to product commercialization to fraught with obstacles. Often, startup founders turn to a product development firm to help make their idea a reality.
Diving deeper and exploring STEM subjects during summer break allows students to find what truly interests them. In school, there is a curriculum to follow and goals to meet; however, the unstructured summer months let students explore their own interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. They can dig deeper into subject matter, which helps them not only grasp concepts better, but gives them a better understanding of the world around them.
We can’t wait to see what the new year brings. Our 3D Innovations team wishes you a happy and healthy New Year!
In this post we are going over the product development basics for our friends thinking of launching their dream in the new year. As one year ends and another begins, it’s time for many to look ahead to the possibilities of what a brand new year can bring. If you have been mulling over a hardware product idea in your head and are ready to take that next step, the new year is a great time to get going on it. Below we are sharing product development basics to help get you started.
Write your idea down in detail. Talk about the functionality of your product, what it looks like and what you want it to achieve. Writing the details down will ensure that you don’t forget anything and help clarify the idea for yourself.
The documentation process doesn’t have to happen at one time, but instead, may evolve over time as you continue to build upon your idea and narrow its scope.
Now that you have your idea documented, start creating a requirements list—functionality that your product “must” have. You are narrowing in on the main functionality of your product and why it will appeal to consumers.
Once you have this information, you can create a 3D design to virtually validate and test your product. 3D design testing and analysis is a great way to prove your concept and at this stage making changes is easy. This is also a good time to start thinking about IP protection for your hardware product.
Depending on the type of hardware product you want to develop, you might be able to make a prototype at-home with traditional household items. However, keep in mind that this prototype won’t suffice as you head into manufacturing. In the very early stages, a homemade prototype will help convey your idea to potential investors and customers. As you move towards manufacturing, you are going to need a functional prototype developed using DFM (design for manufacturability) methodology to ensure a smooth transition into manufacturing.
Using your prototype, it is time to reach out to those potential customers to get their feedback and insight. At this stage you want to know what customers like about your product and what they don’t. Keep in mind that you might have to re-evaluate the design of your product if you are receiving feedback indicating that change is needed—these design changes may deviate from your initial idea, but ultimately you want to meet your customers’ needs.
Once you have finalized your design and are happy with the feedback you are receiving from your target market, it’s time to manufacture. Finding the right manufacturing partner can be an intimidating process, but you want to be sure that you are comfortable with your manufacturer since this could be a make or break stage for your hardware product.
It’s time to launch! During the commercialization stage you will develop distribution channels and finally get to see your product on store shelves. With the hard work it took to get to this stage, seeing your product in the hands of your customers is extremely gratifying.
Now that we have gone over product development basics at a high level, you can dig further into these topics on our blog. If you have additional questions, we are happy to help. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Consumers are driving change and pushing companies to design environmentally friendly products. This has led to a real shift in the product development and manufacturing space towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices as well. “While poor packaging design, toxic materials, and disposable products can have a significantly negative ecological impact, the opposite is also true. Good packaging design, eco-conscious materials, and well-designed products go a long way toward reducing pollution and maximizing resources.” (CAD Crowd)
Incorporating eco-conscious design principals into your product is possible in a variety of ways. Below we explore ways to design environmentally friendly products.
The DfE approach to product design covers the entire life-cycle of a product. Below are the four main principals to design environmentally friendly products that have minimal negative impacts on the environment.
All products reach the end of their life cycle at some point. When they are no longer useful they are often put in the trash and sent to a landfill. This means that the material it is made of is now sitting in a landfill. Environmentally conscious design will account for this and utilize materials that can decompose or that do not emit harmful contaminants.
Consider the environmental impacts of the constituent materials and how they might be disassembled and reused. (CAD Crowd)
This concept applies primarily to electronic devices. The goal is to reduce, as much as possible, the overall energy consumed by the product over the course of its life cycle. Energy efficient light bulbs are the prototypical example of this principle in action. (CAD Crowd)
Consider how the raw materials that go into making the various components of your invention are extracted, processed, and manufactured. Whether and how they are mined, drilled, or grown and harvested will constitute a large part of the final product’s environmental footprint.
How were these materials processed? The nature of the raw materials will also determine whether the product will be recyclable, biodegradable, toxic, or otherwise dangerous to the environment. A major goal of this design principle is to minimize the amount of waste, pollution, and energy expenditure that goes into creating the product. (CAD Crowd)
Using reusable or recyclable shipping and packaging products, eliminating any unnecessary paper and plastic packaging material, and making efficient use of space are the key strategies for creating environmentally friendly packaging. (CAD Crowd)
Most businesses today aim to produce goods at a low cost while maintaining quality, staying competitive in the global marketplace and meeting consumer preferences for more environmentally friendly products.
The design of environmentally friendly products benefits businesses in a number of ways: cost savings, reduced business and environmental risks, expanded business and market opportunities, and to meet environmental regulations.
Have additional questions about designing an environmentally friendly product? Send us an email at email@example.com
Our client, FOG Safe, has seen tremendous growth this past year and their FOG Safe Drain Guards should be on everyone’s holiday cooking prep list. Their drain guard is an environmentally friendly way to responsibly dispose of cooking fats, oils and grease so that they don’t cause major environmental damage.
It is an eco-friendly, convenient and hassle-free way of disposing of used cooking fats, oils and grease after making a meal. (That pan of bacon grease can now be properly disposed of and not rinsed down the sink.) The drain guard is made of recycled materials and quickly absorbs the fats, oils and grease that you pour into it directly from your cooking pan. You then simply dispose of the entire drain guard into your trash.
The FOG Safe Drain Guard keeps harmful fats, oils and grease contaminants out of your plumbing, city sewers and the environment. When cooking fats, oils and grease build up in your pipes and city sewers, they end up clogging your plumbing and sending raw sewage back into your home, neighborhood and the local environment.
See a FOG Safe Drain Guard in action over on the FOG Safe YouTube channel.
Did you know that calls to the plumber for clogged pipes peak around the holidays? This is the time of year where people are cooking large family feasts and sending items they shouldn’t down the kitchen sink drain—looking at you turkey drippings.
According to Home Advisor, the average cost for hiring a plumber is $310.
One way to ensure a clog free holiday season is by properly disposing of all fats, oils and grease after cooking a meal.
FOG Safe Drain Guards can be found in a number of retail locations in Hawaii as well as throughout the United States.
In Hawaii you can find FOG Safe Drain Guards at: Times Supermarkets, City Mill, Simply Organized, KTA Super Stores, Hardware Hawaii, Big Save Markets and Purchasing Hui of Hawaii.
FOG Safe Drain Guards are now in 90, and still growing, ACE Hardware locations throughout the United States.
Learn more about the ways in which we have assisted FOG Safe during their product development journey.
Interested in learning more about FOG Safe? Head on over to their website.
Plastic is a popular go-to material for many new products and inventions—however, there are many more material options to choose from based on your product design, product specifications, intended use and performance maximization. Over the years our team has developed various products, and their packaging, in a variety of industries using a wide range of materials.
While the advancements of 3D printing and the popularity of product customization rely heavily on plastic—it is not the only option out there for your product. Below are a number of materials to consider when it comes to product design and your product’s intended use.
An area that is easy to overlook when you are deep in product development is packaging. In product packaging there have been strides in moving away from plastic in favor of sustainable materials and more resource-efficient designs.
Consumers have a growing interest in businesses and brands that focus on sustainability.
The following are some of the packaging materials that are biodegradable and recyclable.
*The above list of packaging materials is from “6 Eco-friendly, Sustainable Packaging Ideas for your Products”
Our team has experience working with a large variety of materials for both your product design and packaging. When it comes to developing a product, tailoring every aspect to both your product and business’ goals is our main focus.
Have additional questions for our product development team? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our client, The Baby Toon, was featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank and was able to successfully secure a deal with Lori Greiner. Inventor of The Baby Toon, Cassidy Crowley (age 10), and her family have been on this startup journey for three years now and watching it culminate with a deal on Shark Tank was certainly a highlight for them and us. We had a chance to talk with Cassidy and her mom, Lori, to discuss the entire experience and share their favorite memories with us.
Cassidy C.: I learned to just go for it because you never know unless you try! It was super exciting to go through the whole Shark Tank process. I know not many kids or adults get this opportunity in life so I am very thankful. It was fun to get to see behind the scenes of my favorite TV Show and meet the Sharks!
What are the chances you’ll get on “Shark Tank”? On average, the show receives 35,000 to 40,000 applicants each season, some of whom are reapplying after earlier rejections. Of those, about 1,000 advance to a second round of vetting. But this season 10, the show filmed just 158 pitches, and will air only 88 of them, four each episode. So even getting into the tank is no guarantee of TV glory. -USA Today
Lori C.: I learned how with the power of the internet, and Google, you could learn how to do and approach things you know absolutely nothing about! I also learned that your kids can inspire you to never give up! There were many times that I felt defeated and wanted to give up simply because we didn’t know how, had no experience, and didn’t have a friend we could ask to point us in the right direction. However, in those difficult times, it was the kids who said, “we can’t give up”. Their drive, perseverance, and determination to push through even when we didn’t know the answers is something I as a parent will always admire and remember. It really is because of them that we were able to take this journey from science fair to Shark Tank and I am so proud of their commitment to this.
Cassidy C.: My favorite part was showing The Baby Toon to these super successful Shark entrepreneurs.
Lori C.: Cassidy was amazing and handled herself with grace, energy and poise that I could never do at 10 years old or even now at 40! I’m so proud of her strength. I am proud of my other daughters for the never-ending positive support they gave their sister. They were right there every step of the way. We met the most wonderful people along the journey who became our friends and taught us so much.
“We met the most wonderful people along the journey who became our friends and taught us so much. We really knew nothing about how to design and start a business and the experts we met were completely open, knowledgeable, and kind enough to educate our family (with 3 kids!) about their area. Thank you so much for being kind and patient. 3D Innovations and Collin, you set the tone and caliber so high from the start everyone else we worked with had to match up to you!” -Lori C.
Cassidy C.: I loved learning about 3D printing, how you could design on a computer and actually 3D print it! I liked going to Albany, NY at Extreme Molding because we got to see our mold and how silicone is made, injected into the mold, and see how the product comes out of the machine. I loved selling our product and sharing our story live with people at the Baby Expo and craft fairs. And finally Shark Tank, like I mentioned above, pitching to the Sharks then actually talking to Lori Greiner about The Baby Toon’s future.
Lori C.: Learning with my kids! You’re never too old to learn! Traveling to see a working US manufacturing company and bringing home the first suitcases of Baby Toons hot off the press! And of course, auditioning for Shark Tank, getting a call back, and actually making it to the Season Premiere! Really, who would have ever thought a little 7-year-old from Hawaii with a dream of sharing her school science project with the Sharks would be there, pitching The Baby Toon 3 years later. It was truly one of those just try and see what happens—and a memory we will all never forget. It was just so cool to see the Sharks right in front of us asking Cassidy questions and seeing how she would respond. There is a lot going on and lots of questions that are asked. She was fearless, it was so fun to watch.
The Baby Toon has been a truly special project to work on. From the start, Cassidy and her family have been eager to learn about all aspects of product development and open to ideas.
You are never too young or old to invent. If you have an idea or passion that you think can change the world, go for it! Many first-time entrepreneurs often think that they need to have all of the answers figured out before reaching out to us—you don’t. As a product development partner, we help guide you through each step of the product development process and help you connect with the right industry partners.
If you have questions about developing your product idea, send us an email at email@example.com.
When it comes to filing a patent for your invention, patent drawings are an absolute must. These drawings provide you with the ability to disclose all details and functions of your product in a way that neither words nor photographs can. When you are filing a patent application, you are defining your invention and being awarded a filing date for it, which means that every single detail of your invention needs to be included at this time.
“For applications filed on or after December 18, 2013, other than design applications , U.S. patent laws no longer require that an application contain a drawing to be entitled to a filing date. See 35 U.S.C. 111. Having said that, it is an extraordinary mistake for anyone to believe that drawings are no longer required, or that submitting drawings at the time of filing is not the absolute best practice. Furthermore, it should be understood that high quality drawings — and many of them — are the single best and most economical way to expand the scope of any disclosure filed.” (Gene Quinn of IP Watchdog)
While it might seem that since the passage of the Patent Law Implementation Treaty Act in December of 2013 that patent drawings are not required, it isn’t that simple. “35 U.S.C. 113 continues to require one or more drawings if necessary for the understanding of the subject matter.” (Gene Quinn of IP Watchdog)
Therefore, patent drawings should be viewed as required.
Patent drawings are a set of illustrations showing the detailed features of an invention submitted during the patent application process.
“Drawings with more details have more success. They often cover what inventors forget to describe in the written disclosure. The best way to get an adequate detailed drawing is to hire a professional patent illustrator. Greatly detailed, professional drawings have an increased possibility of approval during the application process.” (Upcounsel)
We have helped many inventors with their patent application drawings. Our skilled team is knowledgeable about the details required in patent drawings. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we can help during the patent application process.