Monday, September 29, 2014

Fatherly love behind the loom band craze

The Rainbow Loom, a kit for making the now hugely popular loom bands, might not have been invented if not for a Malaysian-born engineer’s desire to spend more time with his family.

Cheong Choon Ng went to study in the United States in 1991 and later, having received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, landed a job in Detroit’s motor industry.

He loved his job but missed being with his two daughters, he says in a recent article he wrote for the British newspaper The Guardian.

“They were nine and 12, and distant towards me,” he writes. “One night after work, I saw them making bracelets from rubber bands and I thought, ‘Hey, I know how to do this. Maybe I can impress you girls.’

“I sat down and showed them how to link the rubber bands together, using the same technique we had used to make jumping ropes back in Malaysia. But the bracelets kept falling apart. I went down to my basement, grabbed a scrapboard and stuck multiple rows of pushpins into it. Then I started linking the bands in a zigzag, like a diamond shape, and it worked really well.

“The next day, my daughters took a bunch of colourful bracelets to school. I became a neighbourhood hero overnight. Children would come up to me and ask me to make them bracelets.

“It was my older daughter, Teresa, who first suggested selling them. I spent six months developing the product and designed 28 different versions. I was still working full-time at Nissan, so I would stay up until three or four o’clock every morning.

“The biggest challenge was to convince my wife. I am the one in the family with all the crazy ideas, and she is my reality check. She always has the final say. One day, I made a ring out of rubber bands and put it on her finger. After that, she was on board.”

The Rainbow Loom became a popular pastime in summer camps and summer clubs in 2013. Children make and swap their rubber-band bracelets in the same way as friendship bracelets, and have posted thousands of their own instructional videos online.

YouTube features scores of how-to videos, receiving millions of hits. Last year it was named one of the three most popular toys by Cyber Monday Awards and was the most-searched toy on Google.

Even Pope Francis and members of the British royal family have been seen wearing loom bands.

“We invested our entire family savings of US$10,000 to order tooling and 91kg of rubber bands from China, and assembled the kits ourselves in our garage,” Choong writes.

“I spent months going round toy stores in Michigan with my daughters, trying to sell the loom band. Nobody was interested. The problem was that people didn’t understand how they worked. So I asked my niece and my daughters to create YouTube videos, explaining how to make rubber-band bracelets. These created a trend.

“In July 2012, I received an order from a toy store in Alpharetta, Georgia, for 12 loom-band kits. Less than two weeks later, the same store placed an order for $10,000.

“After that, our sales climbed every month until, in December 2012, we reached US$200,000 wholesale sales a month. I took a three-month sabbatical from Nissan, but never returned to my old job.”

He says he sold more than US$40m worth of rubber-band bracelets last year. “I expect to double that this year,” he adds. - Free Malaysia Today

PPH and PCT-PPH between MyIPO - JPO

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is an initiative which provides a means of significantly accelerating examination of your patent application if examination work has already been conducted at another patent office.

Under the PPH program, if the claims of your application have been found to be acceptable by a first patent office, you may request accelerated examination of a corresponding application at a second office. The PPH is a procedure whereby patent offices can make use of relevant work already conducted by another office when conducting the patent examination.

With effect from 1 October 2014, MyIPO starts a pilot PPH/PCT-PPH programs with the Japan Patent Office (JPO):

i). MyIPO-JPO PPH pilot program

ii). JPO-MyIPO PPH pilot program

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Warning About Requests for Payment of Fees

It has come to the attention of the International Bureau that PCT applicants and agents are receiving invitations to pay fees that do not come from the International Bureau of WIPO and are unrelated to the processing of international applications under the PCT. Whatever registration services might be offered in such invitations, they bear no connection to WIPO or to any of its official publications.

The invitations often identify a particular PCT application by its international publication number (eg: WO 02 xxxxxx), publication date, title of the invention, international application number, priority information and IPC symbols. A number of new invitations have been identified originating from the following:

IPTG – International Patent and Trademark Guide

WOPD – Worldwide Online Patent Database

UPTS – Universal Patents and Trademarks Service

Commercial Center for Industry and Trade

Euro IP Register

WIPD – World Intellectual Property Database

WPTI – World Patent and Trademark Index

UPTS - Universal Patents and Trademarks Service

IPT PATENTS - Register of International Patents

FOIP - Federated Organization for Intellectual Property

IPTS - International Patent and Trademark Service

IPTR - International Patent and Trademark Register

IP DATA - Register of International Patents

WBIP - World Bureau for Intellectual Property

TPS - Trademark and Patent Service

European Register of Brands and Patents (REGIPAT)

Novislink limited

PCT applicants and agents should note that it is the International Bureau of WIPO alone which publishes all PCT applications promptly after the expiration of 18 months from the priority date (see PCT Article 21(2)(a)); there is no separate fee for such international publication, and the legal effects of international publication are set out in PCT Article 29.

If they have not already done so, PCT applicants and agents are advised to bring this information to the attention of the people responsible for handling payments of fees within their organizations, as well as to the attention of inventors who might also receive such requests. - WIPO