Innovation for innovation spotlight - Drones

Drones are becoming massive at the moment - they are literally TAKING OFF

Becoming more affordable, more portable, and more uses are popping up for them.

Drones as an invention and innovation, have created innovation and have created so many possibilities for people!


Drones have been used in situations of necessity, such as:
  • Military - Drones can go where humans can't (or shouldn't).
  • Disaster monitoring
  • Search and rescue - find missing people!
  • Deployment of emergency supplies
  • Shark monitoring at beaches

Drones for Convenience
Drones are now moving beyond necessity, and more into the idea of convenience. Within business, this has been to use the concepts from the necessity situations, and apply them to the consumer market...

Where before, you would have to lug them around in a specialised case or backpack, and they would be heavy and not particularly easy to use, and limited in functionality – NOW, you can get them as small as the palm of your hand (WITH camera), or fit into your pocket, and the battery life, functionality, and operating distances have increased significantly!! You can even operate them just from your smartphone, and watch the camera footage directly through a VR headset for a first person ‘birds-eye’ view. 

Lifting capability

Drones delivering for Amazon (Amazon Prime Air – Currently in testing phases, though may be in action within the next couple of years! – USA and UK initially, soft targeted for ~2020).

Delivering pizza for dominoes in New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, and Germany (with trials currently happening in New Zealand!!).

Australia Post is looking into drone delivery for small parcels and objects!

Filming capability

Drones have been equipped with powerful cameras which have enabled people to create amazing aerial footage - sweeping over scenery in a way we just couldn't before (without it being prohibitively expensive such as with a helicopter). You can get some spectacular footage from drones, AND you can get right up close to the target object!

Also can be used for selling a property - do a flyover of the house, to see it from all perspectives!

Another great use of drones is in extreme sports, with the ability to travel with the athlete, getting right in there with them and getting amazing footage.


Drones have advanced to a level where they can be used to enable so much more, and they are allowing people to be more innovative with processes that have usually required so much more time and money...

Where will drones take us next?
What is the next innovation that will allow for so much innovation?


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You have an idea, you think it is great, and you want to patent it...
But can you?

While exact patent laws can vary significantly between countries, there are a few universal ideas that govern whether an idea can be patented.

1. Is it New? and 2. Is it Non-Obvious?

Generally, your idea must be a new idea, or a novel improvement over an older idea, to be able to be patented. Something 'new' must have happened - it is hard to patent something that is just two other things stuck together... There has to be an 'inventive step' (non-obvious), which shows that the design is yours!

Prior Art

Would AI be prior art?
There is the idea of 'prior art', which refers to any sort of historical showing of the concepts of your idea, whether it be written, a picture, a visual reference, or something that in some way shows your idea. For instance, in the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey', the crew were using what looked like iPads... Which created a bit of an argument years later when Apple tried to enforce their patent of the iPad, where the defending company argued that the iPad was based on prior art, and as such was not Apple's idea anyway, and as such should not have been able to have been granted a patent to! While this was ultimately ruled out, it shows that this sort of reasoning can be used to express the idea of 'prior art'. (

Registered Patents

The idea of a patent register is in place to ensure that there is only one of each patent registered, and that the claims are not doubles up amongst patents. Has the idea been patented before? Or has there been something similar patented before? It is a good idea to do your own initial patent search to find patents that may have similar claims (or same claims) to that which you are trying to patent. Some great sites for this include google patents (, and the USPTO (

Claims are King!

Remember - it is the CLAIMS of a patent that will be patented, so you may be able to still patent part of your design, even if other parts are taken up by other patents! But watch out, as your claims may be spread across a few different patents...

Powers of Attorneys

Following up form your own search, you will need a patent attorney (or someone versed in patent law) to complete a search also, as they have plenty of experience in searching for 'similar' ideas, and will be able to give you a good judgement on whether your idea is patentable!

3. Is it Statutory?

Your idea must be patent-able! If your idea is covered by another strain of intellectual property protection (such as trade marks, copyright, design law...), then you cannot patent this! Your patent must be for an invention of some sort, that has been invented, and is an actual 'thing'.

Perpetual Motion is harder than it looks...

4. Is is USEFUL?

Usefulness of a broad term, and can be interpreted in many ways... And this restriction is not here to stop you from patenting something that will be (or could be) used - but it is here to stop people from patenting things that can not be used, or can not be created. By this, I mean things that are concepts of the imagination, and ideas that cannot actually be realised. So that perpetual motion machine - can't be patented! You can not disobey the laws of physics, or any other laws - so don't attempt to get a patent for things that do...


Outside of these, you are very much free to apply for your patent! The process is long, costly, and potentially very stressful, but if you stick with it, I am sure you will get there in the end. 
Now get out there - and invent!


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It can be very tempting to wait for the optimum conditions to start an idea or project...
But this is not the best time to start!

Tomorrow Never Arrives

Is it tomorrow yet??
Think about this...
If you wait until the best conditions come around, you may be waiting forever, since you will constantly be thinking that there might be a 'better time' to start... This is similar to the idea where tomorrow will always remain a day away.. When it turns into today, it ceases to be tomorrow, so tomorrow becomes the next day!

Date Setting

Setting a day to do something can also be tricky...  If you set the day too far away, you are very unlikely to get to doing it until way too close to the actual date, meaning you won't be able to put into it what you could potentially put into it had you started sooner. The further away you make the date, the later it will be that you make a start...

Do It NOW!

The easiest way to make significant headway on anything is to stop the bull***t, and just DO IT NOW. Don't say tomorrow, don't say later, don't procrastinate, just get it done. Starting sooner rather than later means you will surprise yourself, and won't be able to make yourself second guess yourself or psych yourself out.

The first step is the hardest, but it is the most valuable! Without the first step, nothing gets done, nothing can happen.. So stop putting off that first step. Make the first step count, and make it become a first leap into your new life.

Don't say later, don't say tomorrow, don't hesitate! Make it happen, give yourself the kick in the butt you need, and get out there and achieve. The greatest adventure starts with a first step, so take that step now and get to it!


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Trade Marks have been around for a while... Longer than you might think! 
But how long is that, and what was the first EVER trade mark?

Trade marks as we know them have been around for only a couple of hundred years, but the idea of a marking showing ownership, quality, or origin is something that has been practiced for thousands of years...

tl;dr? Watch the Video!

Ownership is OLD

Bison at Lascaux
People have been using markings to distinguish their ownership over something for thousands of years..

In France, there have been found cave paintings of bison, which academics believe were made to signify ownership. These paintings are estimated to be roughly 6000-7000 years old!

During the middle ages in Europe, there were trade guilds for goods that were created (such as pottery, shoes, bottles etc.). These guilds often used definitive marks to identify the goods as having come from that guild - which is an idea not too dissimilar from the modern trade mark.

Additionally, the term 'Watermark' is an early type of trade mark. We now associate this with an image, word, or 'trade mark' that is placed onto a picture or video - though watermarks were originally created as a way to identify who made a particular type of paper. Manufacturers of paper would intentionally stain their paper with water, to create a literal water 'mark', so that consumers could differentiate between different manufacturers.
High quality? Low quality?

Trade Mark as QUALITY

Trade marks and their predecessors were very often used to define a certain manufacturer, which would identify the quality of the product (as the manufacturers would create items of fairly similar quality fairly consistently). The mark would then certify that the product was a genuine item from that manufacturer.


Some of the earliest known laws that were put into place regarding trade marks was the Bread Marking Law passed in England in 1266. This law required bread makers to identify their loaves of bread, by marking them with pinpricks, stamps, or other indentations / markings.

What came first?
Not long after, in 1363, silversmiths in England were also required to place their defining marks onto creations of silver. these markings allowed the public to easily determine the quality of the item. This is something that is commonly looked for by antiques appraisers when identifying the value of silverware.

Fast forward to 1618, and we see the earliest known legal action regarding a mark of trade as indication of quality. In the 'Southern v Howe' case, a maker of high quality cloth sued a maker of low quality cloth, becuse the lower quality maker had put a marking on their cloth that was supposed ot be reserved for makers of high quality cloth! If they had continued, this marking would have made people doubt the marking as designating high quality, and may have even stopped people form buying cloth with that marking as they would expect 'low quality' from it instead of it's intention of showing 'high quality'.

The first known trade mark laws that were put into place are from 1857 in France, where they passed the 'Manufacture and Goods Mark Act'. This was fairly closely followed by Britain in 1862 passing the 'Merchandise Marks Act', which in 1875 fueled the 'Trade Marks Registration Act', which allowed for the formal recording and cataloging of trade marks.

The U.S. first tried to pass Trademark legislation in 1870, though the supreme court struck this down soon after, later passing the successful 'Trademarks Act' in 1881.

Now, and Beyond!

Now, there is trade marks legislation all around the world, with unifying agreements between countries to ensure some level of consistency. Over time these have been adjusted, amended, and have evolved into the trade marks (trademarks) legislation that we know and enjoy today! There are thousands upon thousands of trade marks registered all over the world for nearly every type of industry, product, and service, and the registers are growing every day! Trade marks are a company's branding and image, and are quite often the most valuable part of a company.


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Do things differently, do things your OWN way, do things with passion.

Some Great Advice

Years ago, when I was at uni completing an internship, I was present when another worker was resigning. He had been at the company for several years, and had a good salary, and a good career if he were to stay. He had always taken pride in his work, but I could tell he was not happy being there. He had the cards stacked there, he could have stayed and fulfilled what society expects, but he decided to leave and take a leap at something new. He knew he may not get a job like this one, but he was just not happy where he was - there was no passion.
I asked him, before he headed off, about what advice he would give to me for my life and career. His advice has stuck with me ever since...
Think Outside the Box

Don't live someone else's life, make your life your own. There are so many moulds in society that we are expected fit into - find a good job, build up super, have a career, find a partner, have children, retire, live out your life, and pass on.

But what if you don't want to stick to this 'script'?
What happens if you aren't passionate about your job - the work hours, having a boss... Do something about it!
What if you don't want to have kids, or don't want to just aim for a comfortable retirement... You don't have to!

Break Free

Break yourself out of the cookie-cutter and start making your own life 'shapes'. Pre-set expectations from society, culture, religion etc. are great, and can work for many people, but they are not perfect, and in many cases are redundant, with older values that really should be updated! Don't be afraid to take a chance to make something new. By being unafraid of making something new, you are effectively evolving our civilization, by setting new standards and ideas.

Do Something

If you have a good job, but you are not passionate about it... DO something about it. Do something that will take you closer towards you being passionate. The ultimate aim should be happiness and enjoyment - so make all aspects of your life into things that you can be passionate about.
Maybe you need to start your own company, maybe you just need to change the height of your chair... It is all about perspective, and it is all relative. For some people, passion is something that is hard to find, and for others it can be quite easy to find, or they may already have passion about where they are in life.

Benefits of 'being different', and being passionate.

  • Greater ability to be more creative
  • You will enjoy all aspects of your life much more
  • You will put more INTO life
  • Greater earning capacity, as you are more enthusiastic
  • More drive and determination
  • More participation in extra-curricular activities and learning
  • You will get noticed more (in a GOOD way)
  • You may get promotions
Life is way too short to waste - it is there for YOU to decide what to do with it. 
Don't let someone else make your decisions for you - do it because YOU want to, and YOU are passionate about it.


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Once you have a confirmed design, and you know how it can be made, you need to look into how you will get it made! It can be very tempting here to go the 'DIY' approach, and keep all the profits for yourself, but is this the best option?

Like with any other project, such as building a house, or fixing your car, the cost and time associated will almost always be more than you initially thought! Also the volume of items you sell can impact how well you keep up with demand, or how well you can keep up with costs associated with manufacturing... You can get around this by either outsourcing or licencing, though these present their own sets of problems and headaches too! It all depends on what you are making, and how many of that item you are making.

DIY can be  aviable option!

Cost and Time

How many times have people thought to themselves 'I'll save money for myself by doing a DIY', just to do something wrong, to underestimate costs, or to have costs of items drastically increase for one reason or another. To top this off, so often the time it takes to complete a project will also blow way out of proportion, because you are not an 'expert', and so your estimates for time will never quite be right (unless you get really really lucky...). Cost and time will almost always become more than you think, when you DIY.

In this case, you may be wanting to manufacture your item on your own, which would involve plenty of capitol to purchase equipment and raw materials, and a vast amount of time to do the 'making'.

Volume of Orders

Do you know how many items you will sell? Another thing that can blow out your cost and time is the amount of orders you will anticipate... This can go wither way, in that you may only expect to sell 50 items per month, but end up selling 6000 items per month - meaning you cannot keep up with demand, and angry customers (happens with crowdfundung projects all the time...). Vice versa, you may anticipate 10000 orders per month and put up a massive amount of capitol to purchase proisions to create your items, but demand never shows up, and your 10000 orders per month plan only sells 100 orders per month... This could mean that you are not able to re-coup costs for the machinery and space you have set aside, meaning the business may drop out of the sky!

How can you avoid this sort of problem?

There are two main ways that people can manufacture a NEW object at a VARIABLE demand...


Should I Outsource?

Outsourcing? Prepare for boxes!
Outsourcing is where you are able to retain full (or majority) ownership of your design, but you do not have to manufacture the item yourself. You enter into a contract with a company for that company to make your design FOR you.

Your chosen company will then take on the responsibility of creating the items you need, including the purchasing of machinery, running the machinery, manufacturing and finishing the product, and boxing up the product. You do not need to purchase expensive machinery, and you can quite often order in variable quantities with a pre-set delivery date, so you know exactly how long it will take for the items to arrive.

Problems with outsourcing?

Outsourcing is not a complete package, you will still most likely have to handle distribution, sales, and other general management for your design, as the outsourced company is only there to MAKE your product for you.

Another problem with outsourcing is that you are relying on the outsourcing company to ensure object quality - you are not making the object, and so you cannot always guarantee the best quality products! For example, if your outsourcer is injection molding components for you, they may use bad raw material, which is brittle and crumbles after use instead of holding it's shape. You can get around this to an extent by communicating your quality requirements with the outsourcing company, and doing tests on random items to ensure quality throughout the stock.

Should I Licence?

Strike a deal with licencing...
Licencing is one of the easiest options to sell your design, while still being able to maintain some ownership. When you enter into a licencing agreement, you are effectively 'handing over the reins' of the design to another company, who will then cover the manufacture, distribution, sales, and general management of your design. You are then free to sit back and wait for returns from the licencing company, and go on to your next project. When negotiating the licencing contract, you may be able to organise for a one off payment, royalty payments, or some other arrangement.

Problems with Licencing?

Licencing is the 'lazy' option for you, as you are giving control of your design to someone else... So you will not see as much in the way of profits from items that are outsourced (per item). You will also have much less control over the quality and sales of your design, as the company you licenced your design to will typically do all of this. You will also run the risk that the licing company may stop selling your design, leaving you at square one again. Make sure that you go over the licencing agreement in thorough depth with a qualified patent attorney (or someone qualified in the field), to ensure that all bases are covered, and that you will not be exploited and taken advantage of.

Which should I choose?

The option that is best for you depends on so many different variables... It is very hard to give a definitive answer.

Typically, if you need to only make a small quantity of items, and they are easy / cheap to make...
You may want to consider DIY!

If you need to make a larger quantity of items, and/or the cost required to create the items is high (such as having to purchase specialised machinery), and/or you would need to undertake dangerous tasks to make the item, you may be better off outsourcing or licencing....

If you want to retain ownership...
You may want to consider outsourcing!

If you don't mind another company having control...
You may want to consider licencing!

Remember why you created the product in the first place, and select the option that works best to achieve your goals, and that fits within your means. Aim high and take risks, but don't let your aspirations destroy your chances of being successful!


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