“Why did I apply for a patent”
Frenchweb offers you a series to understand the challenges of patents for Internet companies.
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Why file a patent? The testimonies of three entrepreneurs, interviewed by the researcher …
Vincent Lorphelin: How many patents have you filed, and when?
Jérôme Boyé, co-founder of Tecbak, specializing in connected game platforms, such as connected table football: To date, we have filed three patents, between 2013 and 2016; my financial company having invested in start-ups specializing in connected objects, switch & App for TV, multi-player game in augmented reality on smartphone.
Cédric Williamson, founder and CEO of Kiwatch: We have filed a patent so far and more are in the works.
What did you want to protect?
Cedric Williamson: We wanted to protect the uses resulting from our technological advance.
Jérôme Boyé: In all three cases, new uses linked to the products and services that we plan to market. As we are in highly competitive sectors with “major players”, there were real dangers in the event of a “success story” without the prior implementation of strong legal protection.
What was your first motivation for filing a patent?
Jérôme Boyé: I remember the connected toothbrush that was successfully presented by Kolibree at the 2014 CES: a few weeks after the event, Oral B, world leader in the sector, launched its own connected toothbrush. Kolibree having filed numerous patents, this strategy enabled it to resist. My first motivation was therefore the adoption of a defensive strategy. The second is the promotion of the company with future financial or industrial partners.
Cedric Williamson: For us, it was first to strengthen the company’s heritage and then to protect our market lead.
The resources of a start-up are limited, what reasons led you to put a patent (s) in your priorities?
Cedric Williamson: Of course, for a start-up, an expense is thought out ten times, but you have to know how to assert your strategy to consolidate the company’s heritage and give yourself a long-term vision.
Jérôme Boyé: It seemed to me to be one of the keys to success.
How do you make patents compatible with software, open source, work in open communities?
Jérôme Boyé: For my part, I have been an active defender of open source hardware since the first Arduino workshops and the distribution of Makerbot open source DIY 3D printers. But Google, champion of open source with Android, is one of the first companies in terms of the number of patents filed with the USPTO …
Cedric Williamson: The patent is the aggregation of technical bricks that can be open source and / or developed in open communities, one is not at all opposed to the other, the patent crowning the prospective vision.
Is private intellectual property not incompatible with an innovative and dynamic ecosystem?
Cedric Williamson: Not at all.
Jérôme Boyé: A sign of the times, Google, which campaigns for free software, took a stake in the company Magic Leap, which makes augmented reality, for 500 million dollars in 2014: more than 100 patents have been filed around this new vision device. augmented… proof that open source and intellectual property are not incompatible in the strategic vision of a technology company.
Has the patent process had a ripple effect internally?
Cedric Williamson: Obtaining a patent obviously has an internal impact: it brings together the teams, both technical and marketing, and helps them to project themselves into a common vision.
Jérôme Boyé: The patent filing has contributed to improving the skills of computer engineers unfamiliar with this very rigorous intellectual gymnastics, which aims to identify the relevant novelty / inventiveness tandem that can lead to a patent.
Is patenting expensive, does it require a strong mobilization of resources?
Cedric Williamson: It is of course always too expensive for a start-up but you have to know your priorities. BPI France nevertheless provided us with financial assistance.
Jérôme Boyé: From the perspective of a priority deposit strategy in the United States, we were not eligible for assistance in France. For a start-up, it is a significant investment in “early stage” (approximately 15,000 euros) and time-consuming for the teams at the stages of filing and then responding to the examiner’s objections.
In which countries have you filed your patent?
Cedric Williamson: Our first filing was made with the American authorities in 2014 for an enlargement in progress.
Jérôme Boyé: We have also opted for a priority deposit strategy in the United States with an enlargement to Europe.
What place do you give today to intellectual protection in your overall strategy?
Cedric Williamson: This is a major point of our strategy.
Jérôme Boyé: It is one of the areas to be addressed as a priority in the perspective of valuing start-ups that want to internationalize in a highly competitive market.
What conclusions do you draw from your patent experience?
Cedric Williamson: It is a real criterion of the ability of a manager and his team to face short-term economic challenges in order to project themselves towards the challenges of the future.
Jérôme Boyé: It’s a positive experience, to follow …
Jerome Boyé is the co-founder of Tecbak. This start-up, founded in 2013, develops and markets connected object solutions in the games and entertainment sector. The Foosball Society, Tecbak’s first service platform, has been marketed in B2B since the start of 2015. Jérôme Boyé also heads a company that invests in start-ups of connected objects, TV apps and augmented reality.
Cedric Williamson is the founder and CEO of Kiwatch (Nantes) which designs, develops and markets an intelligent IP video surveillance solution. After 15 years of bizdev in the Web and new technologies, he created Kiwatch at the beginning of 2011. Five years after its creation, a fundraising and the entry into its capital of the industrial group Delta Dore, Kiwatch is preparing, in 2016, to increase its market penetration in France and in Europe.
Vincent Lorphelin founded VenturePatents.com. This company helps start-ups and innovative SMEs to protect their innovations in use and even their business model thanks to patents. Co-President of the Institut de l’Iconomie, think tank of the digital economy, lecturer, Vincent Lorphelin is the author of five books including France’s economic rebound (Editions Pearson), co-authored by 85 entrepreneurs. @VLorphelin