Strix is the world leader in kettle controls. With 56% of the global kettle control market, their products are used 1 billion times a day across the world. Dehns has worked with the business now known as Strix for over 50 years and adapted to Strix’ needs throughout their international growth and expansion in that time. Laura Ramsay, Dehns Partner in the Engineering Group, has been working with Strix for 20 years and has acted as their client manager for the last 10 years.
In 2022, Strix’s IP Manager contacted Dehns Partner, Laura Ramsay to advise that they were in the process of developing the next generation (known as “Series Z”) of their kettle controls, which had new features designed to reduce their manufacturing footprint, as well as some complementary innovations in kettle electronic functions.
Strix wanted Dehns to work with them to plan and implement an IP protection and filing strategy for any new patentable features which had been created as part of the product development process.
Strix were due to showcase the products at a large trade show in China in April 2023, so there was a hard deadline to identify, draft and file any new patent applications in advance of the trade show to ensure there was robust IP protection in place.
In the six-month period prior to the trade show in China, Laura worked with the Strix IP Manager and various inventors and product developers to identify patentable inventions. Once these were all identified, Laura conducted numerous searches to assess their patentability and to identify new and unique appliance designs which could also be protected.
Many ideas/inventions were identified, and eventually seven ideas/inventions were put forward to be protected. To do this, Laura had to create a time plan which had to consider the different levels of development maturity for each invention – i.e. some ideas still needed further development and so the preparation of patent applications for these ideas needed to be delayed until the development had taken place, but all patent applications still needed to be filed by the fixed deadline imposed due to the upcoming disclosures in China.
Laura assembled a team to help her with this, including Tom Williams, a Senior Associate from the Engineering team, and various technical assistants to provide support during this fast-moving process.
There was significant interaction with the inventors, and this interaction had to fit around their development process. Some of the projects involved Chinese inventors, so Laura had to carefully co-ordinate with the local agents we were working with in China to translate and file the relevant applications in China before the deadline passed. Laura worked with the Strix IP Manager to create a strategic mix of utility model registrations and invention patent applications for different aspects of the new control product.
Laura also provided considerable input into the budgeting process, advising where she thought the greatest value would be achieved, and helping prioritise where and how the project budget should be spent.
Ultimately, seven patent families were successfully filed before the deadline, providing Strix with the applications they required to underpin the technology in their latest generation of products.
The kettle market has been increasingly competitive over the last few years, but with these new products being protected, these developments will allow Strix to become even more competitive and retain its dominant position in the global kettle controls market.
“Strix remains the market leading provider of kettle control components within the global kettle control market. The introduction of a number of key product series…will continue to bring innovative new products to market, focused on cost improvements, consumer benefits and sustainability. A strong patent portfolio underpins Strix technologies.” – Strix