16 March 2015

The Shark Tank is where Australian innovators pitch their ideas to the Sharks. If the Sharks like what they see, they’ll invest their own money and as we saw last night, even fight each other to win the deal.

We saw four big pitches on last night’s show. Wondering what all the talk of patents, logos and trade marks and licensing is about? Read on as we explain Sunday’s key intellectual property (IP) themes…

Commercialising your IP – Scrubba wash bags

Taking an idea from a concept to a commercial reality will be different for every business. Pitch one for the night and Melbourne innovator Ash Newland managed to reverse the show and had the Sharks pitching to him!

Entrepreneur Ashley has first-hand experience taking an idea from a concept to a commercial reality. He’s the inventor of the award winning Scrubba wash bag, billed as the world’s smallest washing machine. It’s a pocket-sized gadget for washing clothes that people can use when they go camping or travelling.

Newland had a big advantage when commercialising his idea: he’s an experienced patent attorney, so knew how important it was to protect his IP once he’d come up with the idea and the design for a prototype.

While working on an early prototype, he completed a provisional patent application. He also advises thoroughly researching the trade mark databases in Australia, the EU and the US before settling on a particular trade mark. Newland now has 42 trade marks registered or pending around the world, registered patents in Australia and New Zealand, and patents pending in 52 other countries!

Newland recommends conducting a thorough IP audit before going public with your idea and moving into the commercialisation phase. ‘If you obtain publicity for your invention, your trade mark becomes a very valuable asset as this allows people to find your product. If you lose your trade mark because someone else actually owns it or you cannot get it registered, you may lose all the followers from the publicity.’

Read more about The Scrubba Wash Bag intellectual property story in our magazine - 'Wash bags and software: Commercialising your intellectual property'

Licensing, International patents and trade marks – BottlePops

Did you catch the BottlePops pitch, coined the ‘World’s first coolest bottle opener’?
Cheers to Greg and Steve for protecting their IP - an international patent pending under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and a trade marked logo.

You would have heard the boys from BottlePops mention that they had international patent protection pending. Now, there’s technically no such thing as an 'international patent' but you can get patents granted in a number of different countries and protect your invention in important export markets under the PCT. A Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application is a useful way to apply for patents in a number of different countries simultaneously.

Tip: An Australian patent provides protection only within Australia. Find out how you can obtain similar protection in other countries with international patents.

And then there was their interesting Japan inspired trade marked logo. Shark Janine Ellis stated 'logos are so critical for brand recognition'. That’s why it’s important you protect yours with a trade mark, much like the boys did. Learn how you can design a logo and brand that you can protect with a trade mark.

We also heard the Sharks ask the boys about licensing. Licensing is a common strategy to commercialise IP. It simply means that an IP owner permits another person to use the IP on agreed terms and conditions. Learn more about how you can license your IP.

And to finish, a word of advice from Shark Naomi Simson: ‘Entertaining, innovative and creative. But is it a business worth investing in?’

Until next time…Episode 7 of Shark Tank airs 8.00pm Sunday 22 March 2015 on TEN.