Vistamatic had established itself as a class leading manufacturer of a type of switchable viewing window known as a “vision panel”. Their product range was based on an invention by Mr Aston Andrew Steele, which was patented in the UK in 1971. However, that patent expired in 1991 and a number of competitors entered the market. They offered products that were functionally very similar to those of Vistamatic, albeit often of inferior quality and/or appearance.
In the early 2000s Vistamatic’s product range was being developed in response to this competitive threat. The aim was both to improve the functionality of existing products and to adapt them to meet needs in different market segments and in different countries. Many of the planned new products were based on Mr Steele’s invention but also contained innovations that were distinct from his original invention. The new products were also often visually distinctive.
We worked with Vistamatic on their patent strategy. We helped them to identify commercially attractive technologies that could be patented effectively. We worked with them to build a portfolio of more than a dozen patents and applications covering their new products in Europe, the USA and other key markets. We also helped to protect the distinctive look of Vistamatic’s product range by obtaining a number of registered designs. In addition we identified various unregistered rights to which they were already entitled and which were relevant to the activities of competitors at the time. Finally, we supported Vistamatic in developing an effective trade mark portfolio.
Vistamatic has thrived despite the increased competition and difficult economic times, expanding successfully into new product areas and new countries. Customers continue to recognise and appreciate the unique qualities of Vistamatic products and competitors have without infringing Vistamatic’s rights.
"To keep ahead of the competition we've needed to be innovative and distinctive. Protecting all aspects of our valuable IP has been key to realising good returns on our investment over the years in new and enhanced products."