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From Idea to Reality: THEYA Healthcare

Taberer Attorneys is proud to be associated with clients who have shown the drive and commitment needed to translate an idea or invention into reality – to become successful businesses, well positioned for the future. Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of these clients’ businesses.

In our third edition of this series, we’d like to showcase THEYA Healthcare.

The idea for THEYA Healthcare came about in 2012, when CEO and Founder, Ciara Donlon was running her own successful lingerie shop in Dublin. Breast cancer survivors regularly came in looking for post-surgery bras but she was unable to find a product that really met their needs. 

Seeing the amount of distress this caused these women, who were already going through such a difficult time, Ciara decided to see if she could create a post breast surgery bra that put their needs first. 

With the input of 80 breast cancer survivors in Ireland and the UK, as well as advice from healthcare professionals, Ciara developed an innovative range of post-surgery lingerie. The bras and briefs are ideal for women who have undergone any type of breast, thoracic, pelvic or abdominal surgery. They are also a perfect choice for women who are receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The range, which is made from a novel and patented bamboo mix fabric, promotes healing, offers exceptional comfort and functionality whilst remaining beautiful. 

Ciara chose THEYA, the name of a Hindu Goddess of power, to honour the strength of the women who inspired the brand. The plight of these women is one particularly close to Ciara’s heart, as her grandmother, Rose, the inspiration for the company’s logo, underwent a double mastectomy during her breast cancer treatment. 

Today, THEYA Healthcare recognises that its unique fabric and design process has potential to help many more people. As well as extending its post-surgery range of lingerie, it plans to develop further ranges which will have a positive impact on health and wellbeing around the world. 

Yet another amazing example of spotting a need, developing a solution and turning this solution into a commercial reality by building a business underpinned by innovation.

Roy Taberer features on The Carmen Murray Show!

Ubuntu Baba: How do you protect your ideas?

Marnus Broodryk, Shannon McLaughlin, Roy Taberer, Kimberleigh Stark

Shannon McLaughlin, owner of the Ubuntu Baba baby carrier, recently took on Woolworths for “stealing” her baby carrier design. This leads to an important question for entrepreneurs: How do your protect your ideas?

Listen to the podcast here: https://castbox.fm/app/castbox/player/id1382247/id121671905?v=4.0.29&autoplay=1

Roy Taberer speaks on SAFM’s Viewpoint show on the need for innovators to protect their ideas

Roy Taberer speaks on SAFM’s Viewpoint show on the need for innovators to protect their ideas.

Listen to the interview here: https://iono.fm/e/631733?fbclid=IwAR1_ifAoMgN5Vye-Wojk78PIJvmFJr0K-mx0frBqHTqQp8KKbze6Xu5rXN4

From Idea to Reality: Microbide

Taberer Attorneys is proud to be associated with clients who have shown the drive and commitment needed to translate an idea or invention into reality – to become successful businesses, well positioned for the future. Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of these clients’ businesses.

In our second edition of this series, we’d like to showcase Microbide.

Mary Skelly is an Irish American with a long career in the life-sciences. It was over a decade ago that Mary, together with a South African chemist, conceived of a family of highly effective, biodegradable chemicals that control infestations of anything from microbes (bacteria, viruses and fungi) to insects.

This family of chemicals, called aldehydes, are known biocides. However, they are also skin and eye irritants and they tend to have a very short shelf-life.

The invention of micellar aldehydes was stabilised to become targeted biocides – they effectively killed the target organism – before biodegrading to carbon dioxide and water. The patent protecting this invention is now granted in 76 territories.

Microbide’s formulations are environmentally friendly, ready to use, have a longer shelf-life, and are more effective than competing products.

The challenge was to commercialise these products to produce medical device disinfectants, spray-on larvacides for the control of mosquitos, and horticultural fungicides. This has been a long 11-year journey for Mary, which she has pursued relentlessly, finally resulting in the big break with a significant investment into the company which has put Microbide on the road to commercial success.

A production facility has been established in Wicklow, Ireland. Distributors for their products have been identified in the UK, Ireland, USA and Europe. Another significant market for Microbide is India, where they have commenced negotiations with several JV partners, and are sourcing local manufacturing and packaging facilities.

Yet another amazing example of taking an abstract invention to commercial reality by building a business underpinned by an innovative product.

Roy Taberer speaks on the Kaya Bizz show on why entrepreneurs and innovators need to protect their Intellectual Capital

Roy Taberer speaks on the Kaya Bizz show on why entrepreneurs and innovators need to protect their Intellectual Capital

Listen to the interview here: https://iono.fm/e/623033

From Idea to Reality: Papstix

Whilst great ideas or inventions abound, turning the idea into reality is something quite different. You need to look no further than the patent office, and delve into the countless patents on file, to appreciate great invention, but on paper. Many of these inventions never evolve into commercial reality.

Why then is it so difficult to bridge the chasm separating idea from business reality?

Without wanting to sound critical (and bearing in mind that I for one don’t have an inventive bone in my body) the reason in my opinion is simple: the need for absolute unwavering desire and commitment. More often than not, a person with an idea holds the notion that once they have patented the idea, the work has been done. They can now sit back and wait for the flood of offers to buy the patent.

Unfortunately, this notion is an idealization; a desire for the reward but not the sacrifice. Holding onto this notion often ends in disappointment. Ideas don’t sell, viable businesses built on idea or innovation do. It is in building these businesses – producing a product that is underpinned by the idea or invention – that the sacrifice necessary for success is required: the insane hours, the obnoxious bureaucracy and the many failed iterations.

Taberer Attorneys is proud to be associated with clients who have shown this drive and commitment to bring an idea into reality to become successful businesses, well positioned for the future. Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of these clients’ businesses.

Let’s starts with Papstix (Pty) Ltd.

Over a decade ago, pastry chef and hotelier, Lawrence Mattock, conceived of an idea of taking pap & relish from the plate to an eat-on-the-move, convenience snack. It took Lawrence from that early moment of inspiration to finally put his idea to the test by finding angel investors, building a prototype “patented” machine (which co-extrudes the pap outer layer and the relish core into a plastic sausage-shaped tube) and making the product which he calls Papstix.

Papstix is now a delicious, cheap, substantial and nutritious meal that comes in a variety of flavours including Original (tomato and onion relish), Chakalaka (mild and spicy carrot relish) and Chunks (soya and onion). Additional flavours are in development which will include Peanut Butter & Syrup.

Papstix have a 30-day shelf life and do not require refrigeration. Given the nutritional value, substance, ease of transportation and storage, the product is a great socioeconomic option for feeding programmes; providing an instant solution to rural and disaster areas as well as meeting the needs of starving populations and refugees.

Papstix are the ideal lunch-box meal for school children, with no need for heating, utensils or a plate, they can be eaten anywhere by anyone. Quick, easy, neat, nutritional and satisfying. Also ideal for school feeding schemes as well as school tuck shops or mobile vending during school events e.g. sports days.

An amazing example of taking a concept from a mere idea, to a reality, and building a business underpinned by an innovative product.

Artificial Intelligence and Patent Law

What is artificial intelligence?

Simply, Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by a machine, in contrast to that displayed by organisms. Typical AI is capable of perceiving its environment and taking action based on this perception in order to maximise its chance of successfully achieving its goals.  AI spans the intelligence attributes of reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning and language processing.

Inherent in many AI systems is the use of algorithms which are capable of learning from data without the need for software updates. An algorithm is a set of unambiguous logical instructions that are programmed into a computer to enable the computer to solve a problem.

AI has developed in fits and starts since the term was coined in the 1950s. Development in this arena has accelerated in the last few years, driven by increases in system interconnectivity, cloud computing infrastructure, research tool and dataset availability and a decrease in the cost of all this.

AI and the implication to patent law

AI is becoming increasingly topical in all fields of human endeavour, so much so that it is described as being responsible for the 4th industrial revolution. It is anticipated that few, if any, fields of human endeavour will escape the relentless march of this revolution. Patent law is one such field that will have to adapt to this advance or risk being found irrelevant, no longer capable of achieving its stated goal of encouraging innovation.

There are a number of discrete issues up for consideration when discussing the implications of AI on patent law. These issues include:

  • AI as an inventor;
  • The eligibility of inventions based on AI;
  • AI as an infringer of a patent; and
  • The relevance of the current inventive step standard in the light of AI.

I’ll touch on each of these issues over the course of a series of articles on this topic.

In this article I’ll deal firstly with the issue of AI as an inventor.

Artificial intelligence as an inventor

The first known patent to have been issued for an AI generated invention is US 5,852,815, issued back in 1998. That particular AI was given a name: the Creativity Machine. This invention did have a human co-inventor and the involvement of the Creativity Machine in this invention was not disclosed to the US Patent Office. Thankfully, I would suggest. With the exception of Saudi Arabia, no legal system has developed to recognise AI as a legal subject, capable of holding rights and incurring liabilities. Saudi Arabia recently granted citizenship to Sophia, an AI powered robot. She becomes the world’s first AI citizen.

In the US, the Courts have consistently explained that the mental act of invention, i.e. to conceive of a complete and operative idea, requires a “natural” or flesh and blood person. Corporates thus are not capable of invention. They are however capable of owning an invention which was subsequently acquired from the inventor by an act of transfer.

In South Africa, an inventor, or a person acquiring the rights to the invention from the inventor, may apply for a patent to the invention. A “person” includes a natural person and a corporate (or juristic) person.  There is no definition for the term “inventor”. With this issue not coming before the Courts, it is accepted practice that only a natural person can invent.

In both legal systems, the inventor is the initial owner of the invention. The application is incomplete if an inventor is not disclosed.

With AI as a co-contributor to the invention, the solution, as before, would be to list the human co-inventor as the inventor. However it becomes a potentially intractable problem if the invention is generated entirely by AI.

To solve this upcoming problem, the law will have to change either by recognising AI as a legal person or to allow applications to be filed in which the inventor is not listed, if AI is the inventor. In this scenario, the rights to the patent will accrue, by law, to either of the owner or developer of the AI.

Author: Roy Taberer