Sound advice and a long-term association - in practice!
The following actual case demonstrates how important it is to obtain good protection for your invention.
Raimond Haan works as Dutch, Belgian and European patent attorney at Arnold & Siedsma in Utrecht. He also gives a course at YES!Delft, part of Delft University of Technology, in the subject ‘Ready to Startup’ concerning Intellectual Property. YES!Delft is an incubator which supports technical enterprise at all its stages. It offers practical support in setting up and developing your own company.
One of the students following the business start-up course at YES!Delft in 2005 was Gerwin Hoogendoorn. Out of pure exasperation with existing umbrellas, which soon collapse in a strong wind, he chose as final study project to develop a storm umbrella. His invention was so good that he won a prize: assistance from Arnold & Siedsma in drawing up a Netherlands patent. It was the first prize for this storm umbrella, and many were to follow. Raimond Haan wrote the patent application in June 2005.
The storm umbrella was soon a great success at both home and abroad! A sturdy umbrella of unique design which always finds the best position in the wind. Attractive, aerodynamic and able to withstand gusts of wind of up to as much as 100 km per hour. The main inventive feature relates to the ribs of the frame, which together absorb all forces on the umbrella and make it practically unbreakable.
Together with two fellow-students from that time, Gerard Kool and Philip Hess, Gerwin Hoogendoorn brought the umbrella onto the market under the name ‘senz° storm umbrella’. senz° experienced rapid growth and became one of the most successful YES!Delft companies, an inspirational example to others. Raimond Haan of Arnold + Siedsma has assisted senz° with its patents throughout this period.
Design awards for senz° storm umbrellas!
Owing to its unique design the senz° storm umbrellas have won various design awards over a period of several years . These include the Shell Live Wire Award, the Eindhoven Design Award, the Audi Design Award, the Red Dot Design Award 2007, the Gold International Design Excellence Award, the Good Design Award in Japan, the Japanese Deshima Award, the Design Management Europe Award 2008, the Observer Design 2008 and the IF Product Design Award 2009.
When you win this many awards for design, it is important for the designs to be properly protected. This service was also provided by Arnold + Siedsma, in the figure of Nicole van Roon, trademark and design attorney.
Nicole van Roon: “It doesn’t happen every day that an established market is turned on its head. The design of the senz° umbrellas is highly innovative; stylish, modern, unique. senz° umbrellas jump out at you, they get noticed - products which are recognized out on the streets and which work properly. Consumers are no longer satisfied these days with a product that is merely functional, but also want to see care and attention given to design. senz° have really picked up on this. So it’s no wonder the umbrellas have won so many design awards.”
Plenty of competitors!
When you are successful, there are others who would like to take a ‘free ride’. In December 2006 a Belgian patent holder was already alleging infringement of his patent. Arnold + Siedsma initiated revocation proceedings on behalf of senz°, and in June 2008 the District Court of Antwerp found in favour of senz° and revoked the patent of the ‘free rider’. One up for senz°!
‘Better to steal something good than invent something bad’, thought the next ‘hijacker’. In 2008 a Dutch umbrella maker wanted to market a look-alike storm umbrella. The umbrella manufacturer was however discouraged from doing so by the well protected patent rights of senz°, and so they challenged the senz° patent in order to test its validity. After a three-year legal battle the District Court of The Hague gave its decision in November 2011. The Court confirmed the validity of the senz° patent and maintained it almost unchanged. Two up for senz°!
With the assistance of Raimond Haan of Arnold & Siedsma senz° obtained European patent for the storm umbrella in August 2009. The same Dutch umbrella manufacturer also challenged this European patent. This action is still pending, but senz° and Arnold & Siedsma are confident of a good outcome.
Philip Hess of senz°: “If we are attacked, we will always defend ourselves. At the same time, this is the best compliment a competitor can give you. A big tree evidently attracts the wind. But just as long as they don’t copy us three, it’s all fine by us!”
Gerwin Hoogendoorn of senz° quotes the director of the Dutch umbrella manufacturer, who told him: “I see it like this. I had a garden, and then you came along and put a fence in it. I’ll keep on battering away at the fence until it collapses”.
The response of Raimond Haan to this: “As patent attorney I erected this fence , but only around the part of the garden belonging to senz°. If such a proverbial fence had been placed round someone else’s garden, the court would have had it removed. But the court has confirmed that the fence does indeed stand around the garden belonging to senz°. It is a garden full of fertile soil and this clearly arouses some envy. Philip’s reference to ‘big trees’ is in fact very much to the point: they will after all thrive in such a fertile garden. It gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction that the fence will remain in place. Let them batter away at it…”
A strong association!
Raimond values short lines of communication with the client and intensive contact. As patent attorney he wants to be involved at the product development stage so that he can give the best possible advice on the protection strategy to be followed.
Raimond Haan: "The high-quality products of senz° can only be created when the whole chain is top-quality. I take pride in being allowed to assist such an ambitious company. senz° has turned the established umbrella market on its head, and I’m sure this is only the beginning. A healthy dose of rebelliousness which suits Arnold + Siedsma! Watch this space ...."
Raimond works in close association with his colleague Nicole van Roon, trademark and design attorney at Arnold + Siedsma. Like Raimond, Nicole relishes the challenge of providing tailor-made protection for every client with their own wishes, ideas and vision for the future.
Nicole van Roon (left) & Raimond Haan (right)
Your partner Arnold + Siedsma!
This case shows how important it is to properly protect your intellectual property rights. Arnold + Siedsma will assist you here - from the protection of patents to the registration and protection of trademarks, designs and other rights. Arnold + Siedsma’s advisers ensure that all procedures are followed correctly and keep you one step ahead of your competitors. Arnold + Siedsma has specialists available in all fields who are familiar with the most recent technical developments. And Arnold + Siedsma is also your partner for the case someone hijacks your creative ideas, and so helps you to continue reaping the benefits of these ideas!
With eight offices in the Netherlands Arnold + Siedsma is always close by. We also have offices in Antwerp and Munich. Arnold + Siedsma also has an extensive international network enabling them to operate in almost any country in the world.
www.senzumbrellas.com & www.arnold-siedsma.nl