This is a great Kickstarter project: ALEX Bottle. In essence, it dispenses with the need to work out and attempt to clean those refillable bottles that I’m sure most people have bought or acquired over the years. (Let’s be honest, anything’s got to be better than adding to the use of plastic bottles, even if more of them are now recycled.)

But, what’s concerned me for a while — particularly given the number of Kickstarter projects that have launched — is the extent to which, if at all, ‘proposers’ have locked down their IP protection. It’s conjecture on my part, but given the chicken and egg scenario, i.e. no backers, no product, it may well be that until they’ve got funding they simply can’t afford to obtain the level of protection required. On the other hand, they may well have spent what little seed money they have doing de minimus protection (and I’m only coming at this from a UK/Europe perspective).

As a bare minimum, I would want to sort out the trade mark for ALEX ( ™ until its registered and ® thereafter), consider a registered design on the look of it, as it has eye appeal and the design isn’t purely functional, and rely on design right in the shape and configuration – taking out anything which ‘must fit/must match’. There might also be a very slight possibility of it being patentable if this is a technological step that is not obvious in the industry. Obligations of confidentiality should be imposed at an early stage of funding where possible in order to ensure that the novelty requirement for some of this IP protection is not destroyed.

Of course, there’s a cost implication but given the speed of innovation in the crowdfunding space, I would have thought that a little bit of (self) investment could go an awful long way.