Simple ideas are often the best ones and Ayla Hutchinson's Kindling Cracker is no exception.
Catching up on a week's worth of school work because she was away at Fieldays was worth it for Ayla Hutchinson to launch her household innovation, the Kindling Cracker, to more than 100,000 people who might want to buy one, help her manufacture it or sell them in New Zealand and around the world.
14-year-old Ayla was the winner of the James and Wells Intellectual Property1 Award at the event in June, which gives her $3000 worth of IP2 strategy advice from the experts on how to own, protect her idea and commercialise it. Ayla went on to win the prestigious Young Inventor3 of the Year Award.
James and Wells Associate, Peter Brown, who was on the judging panel of the Fieldays 2013 Innovation Centre, says the simplicity of Ayla's idea and how beneficial it is to so many people were key factors in her success with the Kindling Cracker, but could also cause problems when it came to IP especially around copycats.
"It works really, really well and is safe and easy to handle, but with an idea so simple it's even more important to protect the idea because it would be easy to copy. We want to guide Ayla through the process and help her make the most of her fantastic invention4. She's a very clever young woman."
Ayla came up with the idea of safely cutting wood using an enclosed axe blade that the wood is placed on top of then hit with a hammer after her mother Claire clipped the end of her finger chopping kindling and 'bled everywhere'. The only downside with her invention now, Ayla says, is that most nights she is the one using it to get wood for the household's fire.
Thanks to her dad Vaughan, a bit of an inventor himself, Ayla already had a provisional patent5 on the Kindling Cracker by the time she got to Fieldays. She's very excited about all the interest she's had in her invention and what the future may hold.
"I designed it and Dad helped me weld it up. Now I want to sell it to everyone in New Zealand and overseas," she says.
And what will the top year nine student at Inglewood High School do if she does make money from her invention? Put it towards university in future, probably in the field of engineering, design or architecture.
1Refers to the ownership of an intangible thing - the innovative idea behind a new technology, product, process, design or plant variety, and other intangibles such as trade secrets, goodwill and reputation, and trade marks. Although intangible, the law recognises intellectual property as a form of property which can be sold, licensed, damaged or trespassed upon. Intellectual property encompasses patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
2Refers to the ownership of an intangible thing - the innovative idea behind a new technology, product, process, design or plant variety, and other intangibles such as trade secrets, goodwill and reputation, and trade marks. Although intangible, the law recognises intellectual property as a form of property which can be sold, licensed, damaged or trespassed upon. Intellectual property encompasses patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
3The developer of an invention. In the field of intellectual property the word "inventor" is a legal term to describe the person (or group of people) who made the inventive step to arrive at the invention. It is important to understand that this will not necessarily be the person who developed the invention to proof of concept or prototype stage. If the concept itself is inventive then the inventor will be the person who conceived the concept. Ascertaining the correct inventor(s) is important as he or she will need to be named in any patent application and there could be adverse consequences for omitting an inventor or adding someone who is not a true inventor.
4The product of the creative process of inventing. In intellectual property law "invention" is a legal term usually describing patentable subject matter. Under current New Zealand legislation that subject matter includes any manner of manufacture which is new and involves an inventive step. However, certain types of invention are excluded from patentability. They include inventions which are contrary to morality (for example weapons of mass destruction) and methods of medical treatment (on public policy grounds that such methods should be available for health practitioners to use to the benefit of all society).
5A proprietary right in an invention which provides the owner with an exclusive right for up to 20 years to make, sell, use or import the invention. In exchange for this monopoly the patent is published so that others can see how the invention works and build on that knowledge. The patented invention may also be used by the public once the patent lapses.
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James & Wells Intellectual Property, three time winner of the New Zealand Intellectual Property Laws Award and first IP firm in the world to achieve CEMARS® certification.