When the preliminary surveys indicate that a new idea seems like a feasible starting point for a product or service, the company in question can begin the productisation process through product development. When beginning product development, at the latest, you must find out whether there are any obstacles or conditions to turning the idea into a commercialised product.
Obstacles to product implementation
The entire product idea may be unsuitable for development if someone else has already obtained a patent or utility model for the operating principle, implementation method or technology of your product.
If the obstacles are not determined, your company may launch a new product that infringes upon the rights of another party, and the holder of the patent or utility model may demand that your product be withdrawn from the market. In this case, you company will incur financial losses from wasted efforts that must be redirected. In addition, you may be held legally liable for the infringement and be ordered to pay damages.
Product protection measures are valid in the countries where they have been registered, which means that feasible products patented in Finland may have been patented abroad. If your company intends to export the product, you should also determine the possible obstacles in the foreign markets you will be targeting.
The design and visual appearance of a product
The visual appearance of a product may include the sorts of designs, shapes, symbols, patterns or other marks that cannot be used, because someone else has obtained a utility right or trademark for them. Even though many protected design solutions – such as the Aalto vase and McDonald’s double arches – are well known, the registers may contain unavailable shapes and designs that are harder to distinguish.
A design right held by another party can also encompass only part of a product, such as the handle of an umbrella. This means that you should familiarise yourself thoroughly with the terms of the design solutions. However, matters related to appearance do not prevent product development. The goal is to utilise the product development process to find a unique and distinguishable design and appearance.
Available product names
Coming up with a product name is among the key issues of productisation: a product name that sells must be informative, memorable, clever, easy and suited to the product profile. Unfortunately, it is often the case that someone else has already thought of the most ingenious names, so the product name you are after may be used by another party as a registered trademark or company name.
If you find a clever name for a product in the idea stage, you should register it as a trademark as soon as possible. This enables you to determine early on whether or not the name is available for use and registration as a product name. Trademarks can only be granted to product names that have been created according to certain criteria.
The protection provided by a trademark only applies to the country where it has been registered. This means that for export purposes, the availability of the protection must be checked for each country individually. When planning the export of a product, a parallel product name may be created to better suit the target country. When thinking up this foreign-language name, you should also consult an expert of the target country’s language and culture to ensure that the name is free of any inappropriate connotations, vulgarities or unexpected historical baggage.
Products and trades that are subject to a permit
Some products and services sold by companies are subject to official monitoring or regulation in order to prevent any unanticipated effects to consumers and the environment.
Some of the trades require issuing notification to the authorities or registering oneself for carrying on the trade in question. Some of the regulated trades require a permit application. Without the official permit, a company cannot initiate the production of its product.
Products whose manufacture is subject to a permit include items such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol and fertilisers. The provision of services is monitored by means of permits, notifications and regulations typically in those fields that are related to food products, customer hygiene (gyms, sauna facilities, beauty salons, etc.), safety (electrical work, transportation, security guard services, etc.) or the environment (services that generate emissions and noise).
Permits for a company