Welcome to the latest issue of the Downing IP Newsletter. In this edition we celebrate our five years in business. This important milestone has given me the opportunity to reflect on how much has changed since starting the business and how the business has grown.
Looking back, the first few days were a baptism of fire. I had planned to set the business up gradually, but in the end circumstances dictated a swifter and more aggressive start. I needed to get an office, furnish it, set up an IT system, get the phones and fax machines working and cover the professional work at the same time! One of my vivid memories was on the first day, working out how to man the phones and go and grab some lunch simultaneously! However, I managed to get the systems working and after having the first conversation about filing a trademark application as Downing IP I knew the decision was the right one.
As with many businesses, networking is crucial to success, and I remember driving from Kent to Bournemouth in order to meet new clients. I felt compelled to get out and about. It was in these early days that our rules were laid down - on the surface working in particular industries made sense, however with Trademarks and Patents it could have undermined impartiality. So we established and continue to abide by a strict Conflict of Interest rule that has served us well over the last five years.
Reflecting on the business has allowed me to recollect the influential cases that we have worked on. A few spring to mind...
The first was for Oxford Lasers. They had experienced first-hand the process of challenging a patent in the European Patent Office, and decided that this time they wanted the benefit of expert advice on their side. When faced with their next battle, they called Downing IP, and we worked hard to get the patent struck out. The patent related to the way metered dose inhalers (such as for asthmatics) are tested - the FDA has asked for better characterisation of the spray pattern and plume geometry, and the patentee had simply adopted a well-known laser measurement system that had been used extensively for other purposes. We persuaded the EPO Board of Appeal that this was simply obvious.
The second is Elekta, an innovative company that creates equipment and software to improve, prolong and save the lives of people with cancer or brain disorders. I first started working with them on their patents for radiotherapy devices about 20 years ago, at which time the target area for the radiation dose was measured with centimetre accuracy. Their technology has moved on substantially, and they now define their target area in millimeters. This increase in the accuracy of targeting tumours reduces the stress on the body and makes a measurable difference in treatment. They have also announced their next move, unifying MRI and radiotherapy to achieve what people have been trying to do for decades – see https://unity.elekta.com.
Gordon Murray Design are another client who have made huge strides in the time that I have been looking after their intellectual property. Their ‘iStream’ technology for vehicle chassis structures is exceptionally exciting, having already delivered a 96mpg car that is also fun to drive. More recently, they have partnered with the Global Vehicle Trust to produce the ‘OX’, an off-road-capable, flat-pack self-assembly truck that can bring mobility to businesses across Africa or provide short-notice rugged transport for humanitarian efforts. They are now fundraising for field tests – two of the special OX vehicles will be shipped to Africa for testing. We’ve been more than happy to support this and you can too here: www.downing-ip.uk/blog/ox-to-africa-a-unique-and-very-worthwhile-crowdfunding-effort
To see patents make a difference to our clients is hugely satisfying.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our clients and referrers for all of their support over the last 5 years. Without the vital encouragement we have received the story may have been a very different one! In the last five years Downing IP has grown organically from 1 to 6 people. We have an excellent team that are experts in their fields and work together to make Downing IP a great place to work.
In the next issue we plan to take a look at the future of patents and trademarks, and we have some exciting news about the changes you will see at Downing IP. In the meantime, we hope you have a good summer, and do get in touch with any patent or trademark questions you may have.