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Blog | Even simple inventions deserve a patent | EP&C Patent Attorneys


A little bit of smart thinking can solve a great deal of inconvenience. Inventions are sometimes brilliant for their simplicity. Patent protection is often very worthwhile. Patent Attorney Kees Hollaar from EP&C lists his
top 3.

1. Paperclip

The paper clip, which is still an everyday item, was invented by the American George Griffiths, who had it patented in 1927. His invention was, in fact, an improvement on a previously improved version. The first paper clip patent dates from as long ago as 1867 and was triangular in shape.

Since then the paper clip has taken on many guises with accompanying patents. The most recent patent dates from 10 December 2014 and is registered in the name of the Chinese inventor, Chen Xin. His version of the paper clip can hold together thick piles of paper.

Funnily enough, the paper clip is used for many more purposes than just holding pieces of paper together. British research revealed that, of every 100,000 paper clips, eventually only 20,000 fulfilled their original function. Other popular uses are as something to bend during telephone calls, something to push the reset button with, a toothpick or an ear and nail cleaner. The latter not necessarily with one and the same paper clip.

2. Skirting-board corner piece

Every do-it-yourself enthusiast knows the problem. Fitting skirting-boards in a room is, in itself, a straightforward and easy-to-do project. That is until you have to link the skirting-boards in or on a corner. You are supposed to use a mitre saw to ensure that the skirting-boards always have the correct angle and link up seamlessly. In practice this is never the case. The gaping cracks in or on the corner have driven many a do-it-yourself enthusiast to despair.

The Mac Lean Products company has the solution. It is a corner piece in the same material as the skirting-board. The corner piece can be put together by clicking two skirting-board sections together using a connector. The corner piece can be used for internal and external corners, so fitting them is child's play.

The corner piece is a typical example of a problem-driven solution. A fixed element of any patent application is the question: for which problem does the invention offer a solution? In this case, everyone is familiar with the problem, which can now be solved with a surprisingly simple solution.

3. Anywayup beaker

The leak-proof beaker for babies and toddlers prevents a lot of mess and drips in the living room. Its secret is a simple one-way valve. It was invented by an English housewife, Mandy Haberman, who was granted a patent in the Nineteen Nineties.

There has been plenty of litigation in connection with that patent in many countries. The competition thought it was too straightforward a concept. In order to be granted a patent, an invention not only has to be new but also inventive. A one-way valve has been around for a long time and children's beakers have also been around for decades. Nevertheless the British patent court ruled that the invention was indeed new and was not straightforward. The court reasoned that, if it had been straightforward, others would have thought of the combination many years ago. The judge actually said in his judgement, "It was there under their very noses".

Mandy Haberman has become rich and famous due to the beaker which is a classic example of a simple innovation which is protected by a patent. The website is a must-read for any budding inventor.

If you would like to find out whether and how your invention can be protected, please feel free to contact us by  e-mail.