Patents play a major role in window cleaning product manufacturing. It would appear that the days when a window cleaning product inventor, would design, manufacture, and supply products without seeking protection of their designs have gone.
With a growing global appeal and demand for innovative window cleaning products, China has woken up to this area of the market and is supplying copies of western products. These copies with varying quality of the major brands that you all know, the likes of Gardiner, Ionic, and Unger have fallen victim of their own success by attracting these ‘copycats’.
They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but it would seem not when the pioneers have made all of the upfront investment. Furthermore, today they are more likely to fight to protect that investment.
Manufacturers are increasingly securing patents on new innovations. Having taken the risk of bringing quality products to market that can be time-saving, or provide a safe method of cleaning, quite rightly, manufacturers are getting miffed by low-grade copycat competition.
We have all experienced what it is like to have the ‘me too competitor’, the ‘I can do it cheaper brigade’ canvas your customer base and cause havoc, only to provide an inferior service that drives prices down.
The leading suppliers have to protect their unique innovations by gaining patent protection. Patenting products is a time consuming and very expensive process, but now a necessity if playing on the global stage. It’s essential for staying profitable in order to continue innovating new products.
Gardiner Pole Systems embarked on patent protection back in 2014 for their successful water fed pole range, and were granted a patent on their clamping body which incorporates a spring, to allow for tension on the clamps, this reduces the risk of spinning on the tubes when the pole gets worn, thus prolongs the working life of the pole.
Ionic Systems launched their new Vertigo pole range in the U.K. at the Cleaning Show in March 2017 to coincide with their 20th Anniversary. The Vertigo was awash with new design from the brush head to the butt ring with numerous patent applications (pending) in place prior to its launch.
One of the features they sought protection on, is an anti-rotational noncircular feature which will prevent the tubes from being able to turn or twist, which in turn will make for a more rigid and durable pole. Rumor has it that this feature will form part of an additional new pole range due for release in the Autumn of 2018 from the Ionic camp.
There has been much speculation and anticipation of the new Ova-8 water fed pole from CNER in China that has been billed as a ‘game changer’ pole, boasting anti-rotational tubes and spring loaded clamp systems.
The pole looks magnificent in design and appearance, making it a desirable item for window cleaners biting at the bit and ready for supplies to come through. However, will there be a problem here for Ova-8?
Although this looks to be an interesting addition to the pole market, there is now speculation the pole may struggle. Here at Window Cleaning Magazine, we suspect, from observation of the Ova-8 pole and by looking at the granted patents already in the market, that it may have been released without due notice being taken of others Intellectual Property Rights.
Is this an example of today’s product landscape and patent rights of the need for manufacturers to carefully research before a product is launched?
From previous experience, we at Window Cleaning Magazine know how Gardiner Pole Systems take any potential infringements very seriously and we are sure as to when all new products arrive in the market that they are already looking at this closely.
Reuben Reynolds of Ionic Systems has told Window Cleaning Magazine, ‘There is a launch of additional poles in the Vertigo range. These are set for later in the year, these will feature anti-rotational tubes, complete with a new range of injection moulded clamps’.
Reynolds added ‘… this is a significant investment from Ionic Systems into a new pole range. We needed to have the security that we were not infringing any other patent-pending design and took patent protection on our investment.’
So what can Ova-8 do in such a situation?
It is possible to cut a deal in the form of royalties, however, knowing the vigor and enthusiasm of companies such as Gardiner Pole Systems and Ionic Systems have towards the market and their own brand vision it would seem to be unlikely a proposition. We hope that the Ova-8 pole is able to find its way into window cleaners hands successfully, given the recent speculation what that journey might be is unknown at this stage.