Speaking to us on the phone, Jennifer West is full of enthusiasm as she talks about ideas and product design. In between client meetings, she tells us of how, as a child, she used to research everything and anything and was keen to find exact answers. “I’m an idea generator,” Jennifer says. And she puts this talent to good use in her job. Jennifer works at Sedax AG in Uster, an enterprise that helps start-ups, SMEs and corporations to successfully bring their product ideas to the market.
An invention inspired by women
A few years ago, Jennifer West had an idea for a product. She had put the idea on the back burner for a few years , but it wouldn’t let her be. “I just couldn’t stop thinking about my idea,” says the inventor. She wanted to know for certain if it was viable, so she decided to order an Assisted Patent Search to find out if her invention could be patented.
But Jennifer has also found time to launch her own product. Years after the idea first came to her, she has decided to pursue the project and get answers to some key questions: Is the invention novel? Can it be patented? During an Assisted Patent Search at the IPI, the design engineer and industrial designer found answers to these questions (more on this in the infobox below).
Jennifer West can’t yet reveal what her invention is because it hasn’t been patented yet. But this much we do know – it’s a product for women. “During my studies, I always made it clear that I wanted to develop products for women,” she recalls. The product she wants to patent came about because Jennifer wasn’t satisfied with the solutions that are currently on the market. She’s certainly not the only person to take this approach.
Jennifer West’s love of invention was evident from an early age. She was a curious, inquisitive child and in her household, no object was (and still isn’t) safe from her analysis. “I’m quick to scrutinise the function and design of a product. Functionality and ergonomics are decisive factors – form follows function. Ideally, a product should inspire trust and evoke emotions." For Jennifer, good industrial design should be so subtle that you hardly notice it.
After the patent search, she called her parents straight away to say that she could patent her invention. Together with a patent attorney, she started planning the next steps. She will establish a company and file for a patent in its name. She is currently looking for a partner that will one day include her product in their range. “My name doesn’t need to be on it. The focus is on the consumer. I generate ideas because I want to help others,” she says.
An Assisted Patent Search at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) offers an initial overview of the state of the art in a technology sector of your choice. Customers can assess whether their invention is new and if it is worth filing a patent for it. “During the search, I got to take a look at existing products, which confirmed that my product has market potential”, says Jennifer West.
A patent expert took a close look at the invention with her and combed through patent databases. The search was continuously refined and the search radius narrowed down. “It was exciting to see how we got closer and closer to the answer,” recalls the inventor. The hope was obviously that the patent expert wouldn’t find a patent that would pre-empt her invention.
At one point during the half-day search, Jennifer West was unsure and feared that her invention wasn’t novel after all. “We came across some patent documents which described the same problem as mine, but luckily they solved it in a different way,” she says. The result after four hours – her invention has the potential to be patented.