Andrew Simpson:

Vert Design is what we call a design house. We use the term ‘house’ intentionally. There's another way we could describe it, as a design consultancy, but I guess the thing we do that is different is we're also producing our own products. We're interested in creating meaningful outcomes to people. So we're looking at objects that during their use create good and we're also very driven by sustainability. For us, manufacturing's key to what we do. We're still very much based in the artefact. So we're always looking to balance the type of manufacturing, materiality, where we manufacture, based on how the product needs to perform, the volumes in which it’s being made, the price points, and for us manufacturing forms a huge part of a commercialisation strategy.

So obviously in design we're dealing in the realm of new ideas. And so in that, intellectual property is hugely important. We don't have one single overarching strategy to how to treat intellectual property. It's very much helping tactically deliver on our client's strategy. So in each of those instances, there'd be a very different IP strategy that would be applied. And sometimes the protection of the idea becomes what's saleable, and in other times it gives the clients some confidence and surety to sort of go into the market. And in other times it can be an unnecessary burden that makes the product unviable because of the costs associated.

We'll often recommend an IP lawyer or give some advice as to what we anticipate the IP strategy should be. When we take our own products to market, we often have to do the same exercise to say, what sort of level of protection do we need to take? Design registrations are one of the most affordable and strongly executable forms of IP. And for us, they're really preferable to patents. I can name you twenty examples where what's a relatively cheap registered design has resulted in a very strong protection where we've been able to stop imports from coming in. We both get intentional copying and unintentional copying. We had an experience last year with a client who had some very intentional copying. We often wonder about the value of IP and its application and in this instance, they were able to have the product blocked from being sold in Australia. It was also being sold in Spain and they were able to put a cease and desist and have it stopped being sold in Spain, and that was a really great outcome.

IP is not a coverall strategy and having a patent isn't a license to print money. And I think there's people who often think that "I've got a great idea, I'll have a patent, and then the money will flow in", where really what we're talking about is just protection. And you need to then have a port of commercialisation strategy that sits above it. And just going into that with their eyes open will help manage "how do I limit the exposure of my IP costs while still getting the appropriate form of protection."

Last updated: 
Thursday, September 23, 2021