A unique product that offers superior protection against head injuries. For Malmö-based Hövding, working with Ström & Gulliksson has led to numerous patents for its acclaimed airbag bicycle helmet.
It took seven years to take Hövding from concept to the final, certified product – a bicycle helmet worn around your neck like a collar that understands the movement pattern of a cyclist and can detect an accident in progress.
“Hövding is an exciting and highly innovative client. So far there are no direct competitors, which is a strong testament to our strategy for the company's patent protection," says Erik Bolmsjö, European patent attorney at Ström & Gulliksson.
Fredrik Carling, CEO of Hövding, describes how his company has benefitted from choosing to work with Ström & Gulliksson:
“Hövding began working with Ström & Gulliksson at an early stage. It was a natural step for me to cultivate our partnership when I took office as Hövding’s CEO five years ago. It was and continues to be important to have a firm that manages our patent portfolio responsibly. This is simply fundamental to our ability to drive strategic development."
The founders, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, realized the importance of protecting their ideas long before the first prototype was developed and the physical product became a reality. At that time, they were studying industrial design and decided to explore the potential to design a bicycle helmet that people would want to use, based on an idea that ended up laying the foundation for their thesis project – the airbag bicycle helmet concept. The innovative design attracted attention early on, winning the Venture Cup business plan competition in 2006. Venture Cup helps young entrepreneurs transform their idea into a sustainable business plan, and Hövding Sverige AB was started that same year.
“At first, the product was no more than a concept, but the founders made sure to get help patenting their ideas right from the start. Now you could say that we have different kinds of patents, all important, but in different strategic ways,” says Fredrik, who tells us about the first patent:
“Basically, our first patent family protects a protective device resembling an article of clothing, a collar you wear around your neck, which inflates to protect the cyclist’s head. This patent protection is broad, and granted in many countries. These patents give us exclusive rights to our product on a general level regardless of material and design.”
Hövding’s other patents play a supplementary role, revolving around the design itself as well as the detection feature.
“Hövding’s design is unique, from the way the material is cut to how it envelops the head. All patents have a time horizon, and we extend and strengthen the business value of our innovations by strategically building our patent portfolio over time," says Fredrik.
Ström & Gulliksson strives not only to help every client protect their products from illegal copying, but also to help make their ideas and products profitable. This means taking into account both technical and legal considerations from the outset.
"A company like Hövding with such a high level of innovation also understands its commercial value and what it takes to safeguard this value in both the short and long term," says Erik, who concludes:
"The more established Hövding gets, the more interest it will attract from others, which will pose new challenges in terms of how we at Ström & Gulliksson assist Hövding."
With a business concept centered on saving lives by protecting cyclists, Fredrik Carling has put a lot of thought over the years into free innovation and the trend toward freely disseminating concepts and ideas:
"When you create something unique, it's easy to feel that you want more people to use the concept. However, there's a notion that if you have something unique, you really want to protect it, sometimes to such a length that it's difficult to reach the broader market. Hövding’s main priority is a product that maintains a high level of quality and safety. We now have patents that enable us to deliver a product that protects the head on the basis of a superior concept to which no one else has access. And there’s a responsibility that goes along with this.”
Fredrik goes so far as to imply that there may be a moral responsibility for companies with unique products to protect their technical solutions. The risk of allowing rapid deals and agreements with partners to jeopardize the concept is not one Hövding is willing to take.
“We see great opportunities to keep developing our products. We are secure in ourselves, our innovation prowess and the team we have assembled that values quality and functionality. Naturally, we are looking at other target groups besides cyclists. There are some sports where the development of protective equipment has not come very far yet. We receive inquiries from the healthcare industry and we are well aware of the large generation of aging people that is at high risk of falls at home. These accidents limit their freedom and can put their lives in danger. Essentially, Hövding is about reducing risks to improve people’s lives with greater safety and freedom.”
A unique partnership with Advokatbyrån Gulliksson
The long-standing partnership and physical proximity between Ström & Gulliksson and Advokatbyrån Gulliksson ensures convenient access to qualified advisory services for joint clients such as Hövding.
“Hövding is a really exciting brand. It’s strong, unique and has a Swedish ring to it,” says Åsa Righard, a Gulliksson lawyer with many years of experience as an IP lawyer with a focus on international trademark law.
“Considering that the registration process can take a very long time, we recommend going with international registration first and then choosing new countries to designate in conjunction with growth and product launches. The advantage an innovative company enjoys when choosing to work with both Ström & Gulliksson and Advokatbyrån Gulliksson is that we have the ability to act fast and provide access to both lawyers and patent consultants prior to a process.”
* The partnership between Ström & Gulliksson and Gulliksson complies with the rules of the Swedish Bar Association.