Aussies love the outdoors and Bernie Sharrad, inventor and CEO of CapHat® Sun Protection, is no exception.
While out fishing on the far west coast of South Australia Bernie could feel himself getting burnt. ‘It was a stinking hot day and I had a hat on but I was still getting smashed by the sun, so I grabbed some duct tape, paper towel and a knife and the first CapHat® was born’ said Bernie.
Most people have a favourite hat, but they don’t always provide full sun protection, with the CapHat® you can put it on or take it off as required. CapHat® is a unique, UPF45, one size fits all attachment that simply fits over your favourite cap or hat to provide the ultimate sun protection.
When Bernie’s wife Melissa had a skin cancer removed from her nose they realised that others might like the CapHat® too. ‘Two out of three Australians are predicted to have skin cancer by age 70'*. CapHat’s vision is to disrupt these predicted skin cancer statistics, not just in Australia, but globally’ says Bernie.
After making a few prototypes using different materials and sewing methods, Bernie did a global search online using IP Australia’s search systems to see if a similar product existed and approached several intellectual property (IP) attorneys. ‘The hardest part was finding out how much it was all going to cost, but we wanted to make sure that CapHat’s IP was protected before we launched so we trade marked our brand, applied for a patent for the way CapHat® works and a registered design for the way it looks’ said Bernie.
Applying for an IP right to protect your idea can be critical if you want to build a business and establish your presence in a market. ‘Investors realise that you are serious about your idea, having invested time and money to protect it. It gives them more confidence to invest’ said Bernie.
IP rights can also provide you with a competitive advantage. They can be an extremely valuable bargaining tool and, in most cases, be sold for financial gain. Bernie says ‘The business is not just an idea, now it actually owns something. If your idea takes off your IP creates much of the value in your business and you have options to confidently negotiate sales or licensing deals.’
Advice from Bernie about protecting your IP
Bernie has some advice for other small businesses looking to protect their IP. ‘IP attorneys offer a complimentary hour of their time, so use it wisely to determine which one best suits your business and your budget too. Interview a number of IP attorneys right from the start, just like you are employing someone.’
He adds ‘everyone has their strengths, ask them pertinent questions in relation to your invention, take notes and then make your decision. For example, are you considering international protection? If so, does that attorney practice in the country or do you have to go through a third party agent? Do they have expertise in the field you are in, can they give specific examples? Are they prepared to provide a strategy document with associated costs? Ask them to clearly define when you are being charged for their time.’
Bernie also suggests you ‘consider their company structure right from the get go, who will own the IP and how will the company operate i.e. will you have a holding company for the IP whereby that company licences IP to a sales company? If you’re seeking investment, the company structure is important for the investors but also for the inventor too.
His final advice to start-ups and small businesses is ‘collaboration is the key, use your network, talk to people that have been there and done that, like most people, I’m always happy to talk about my experiences and where I’ve gone wrong. You don’t know what you don’t know!’
What’s next for CapHat®?
‘The future of CapHat® sun protection looks bright’ says Bernie.
‘We have international and local validation by way of the 2016 Bronze Edison Innovation Award and 2015 Australian Fishing Trade Association, best clothing accessory. We also have new models in development and have just released the CapHat® hoodie, which we think makes sun protection fashionable. It’s suitable for sportswear, beachwear, workwear or ANYwear!’
Registering your IP
- Have you developed a brand? Protect it with a registered trade mark. You can learn about trade marks, search for existing trade marks and apply for a trade mark.
- Protect the way your product works with a patent. Learn about the benefits of patents, search for existing patents and get an idea of how much a patent may cost.
- Protect the way your product looks with a design. You can learn about designs, search for existing designs and apply.
- Understand your commercialisation options to monetise your IP.
- If you’re an entrepreneur or start-up our IP – your business edge magazine helps steer you through how protecting your IP can help grow your business.
- We understand the IP system can be complex so we’ve put together the basics for patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights.
*Source: Cancer Council Australia