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Swindell & Pearson Case Study - Obtaining Patent Protection for Mobile Acuity’s High-Value Innovation

The Client’s Challenge

Mobile Acuity is a University of Edinburgh spin-out company established by Dr Anthony Ashbrook and Dr Mark Wright in 2006. While working at the prestigious School of Informatics, Anthony and Mark foresaw the impact camera phones would have on information access systems and quickly spotted an opportunity to innovate.

Defining their idea as “mobile visual search – searching for the mobile age”, Anthony and Mark developed a platform for accessing information using captured images. Information can be linked to any reference image so that when a user looks at a corresponding image through their smart phone they get that information delivered automatically. This allows a company to ‘tag’ information to real life objects such as products, buildings or literature. End users can also upload information and ‘tag’ real life objects with their own content. Anthony and Mark developed new sophisticated algorithms so that images taken from different perspectives and lighting conditions would still reliably link to the information through the reference image. This is provided in a highly scalable modular architecture.

Initial funding, obtained from the Scottish Government and the university, enabled development of a confidential proof-of-concept prototype. Anthony and Mark realised the importance of early patent protection in such a high value marketplace. They knew a good patent would create an effective barrier to market-entry to others, significantly increasing the value of their company and helping to attract investors.


How we Helped

Anthony and Mark were introduced to Swindell & Pearson and Patent Attorney Paul Higgin through the Informatics Department of the University of Edinburgh with whom Paul was working on other projects. Paul had significant previous experience in helping high growth, early stage companies protect and maximise the value of their inventions.

Anthony had a general understanding of intellectual property rights and the types of protection they provided but the process of obtaining a patent was an entirely new experience. He chose to work with Swindell & Pearson and Paul because he was looking for an attorney who not only had experience of protecting valuable inventions but was also capable of providing strategic advice and guidance throughout the patenting process to maximise the patent value.

Paul and Anthony worked through the entire process of patent drafting, application filing and prosecution, grant, and enforcement. Although Mobile Acuity is based in Edinburgh and Swindell & Pearson in Derby, Paul provided “first class communication” keeping Anthony informed and engaged throughout.

As Mobile Acuity’s strategy changed, Paul was able to remain close to the business and appropriately translate these strategy changes into the patent applications. This was only possible through having that clear and concise understanding from the start and remaining close to Anthony and his business throughout the process.

Successful Result

Mobile Acuity currently has 4 US patents granted, a further US patent pending and patent protection in other countries. Having already worked with clients such as Disney, Pepsi and Tesco obtaining patent protection has provided the business with valuable assets that it can now leverage within this high-growth sector.

Obtaining good patent protection has given Mobile Acuity a significant footing in negotiations with investors, licensees and potential acquirers. This was a key objective for Anthony. Having already received several enquiries for the patented technology, Anthony and his board are confident in the value of the patented technology especially as several well-known multinationals are moving into this space.

“It’s so critical for start-up companies to get good patent protection. For me, good protection isn’t just about getting a patent, it’s important to get a valuable patent.

I like to really understand my clients’ businesses and technology, so that I can deliver maximum value. Anthony has created a fantastic business and I now look forward to seeing Mobile Acuity’s growth in the future”.

Paul Higgin - Patent Attorney at Swindell & Pearson

“Patent protection has been critical to growing the value of our business as we are operating in the same space as large multinationals. Being first to market is not enough in itself when faced with significantly better-resourced competition.

Paul’s advice throughout the lifetime of the company has been invaluable”.

Dr Anthony Ashbrook - Director at Mobile Acuity

Swindell & Pearson is a UK based firm of patent and trade mark attorneys that has been helping businesses and individuals protect and defend their ideas, innovations and brands for over 135 years. Based in the East Midlands, the firm has offices in Derby, Stoke, Wolverhampton and Stafford as well as in Sheffield. To find out how Swindell & Pearson can help you and your business with any intellectual property requirements please get in touch via or by telephone on 01332 367 051.


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