Safetray inventor Alison Grieve was chosen as a case study in the Scotsman newspaper, 10th December 2013, to talk about intellectual property
Firm grasp of patent laws serves Safetray inventor well
One of the best steps which Edinburgh inventor and entrepreneur Alison Grieve took with the development of her Safetray products was to protect her intellectual assets.
She consulted experts in the field and decided to go for a patent for her product, which is a simple but brilliant design that has revolutionised safety for the catering industry - as the name suggests, Safetray makes serving safer.
Grieve would encourage all inventors and developers to get expert help, especially when it comes to overseas markets. She also sounds a warning for those who want to protect their intellectual property via a patent.
"Many innovators make the mistake of opting for the lengthy and highly expensive patenting process without realising the complexities of this system," says Grieve.
"The majority of new product designs, no matter how unique and innovative in form, do not fulfil the patenting requirements set out by the UK Intellectual Property Office. The four criteria an invention needs to meet in order to secure its patent are that it must be novel, involve an inventive step, be capable of industrial application and must not fall within one of the specifically excluded categories - software, for instance, can be patented in the US but not in the UK.
"Several searches through some of the world's most extensive databases of patents assured us that nothing like the Safetray had ever existed. The closest thing to it was a patent from the early 1920s involving a strap nailed to the bottom of a tray.
"It filled me with a sense of both pride and wonder to think that nobody had thought to advance the concept for almost 90 years. I wonder now how many other inventions there might be floating around, as yet undiscovered and unclaimed, awaiting their recipient's flash of inspiration."
Grieve now has patent protection worldwide for the Safetray and is currently launching a new invention, the G-Hold, which is designed to grip tablet computers.
That's more good news to add to a tale of Scottish success.