August 20, 2018
Glass artist Renata Jakowleff busts myths about the aesthetics of concrete and the patenting possibilities in art industries. She is working determinedly on building her business internationally, and Kolster is a valuable IP and legal resource for her.
Renata Jakowleff is an experimental and open-minded artist. In addition to glass, she became interested in the possibilities of concrete a couple of years ago. She developed an ingenious method for creating three-dimensional decorative surfaces on concrete – cost-efficiently through serial production. Her innovation, called Muotobetoni, received the Ornamo design award in 2018, and it is about to be granted a patent in Finland. The European Patent Office has also given a green light for a European patent."I wasn’t familiar with patenting. Before my invention, I hadn’t read through a single patent text, so I needed a thorough introduction to the world of patents. The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Finland helped me in the determination of the novelty of my invention. From their list of possible partners, Kolster was chosen at the recommendation of an IP expert I’m acquainted with", Renata explains.
Turning the plasticity of concrete into aesthetics
This goes to show that patentable innovations can also be created by artists. A key insight with Muotobetoni was the use of textiles as a mould and the enlivening of concrete structures through various forms and textures. Renata came up with the Muotobetoni technique while working on glass, because in molten form, both glass and concrete are quite mouldable.
"The Muotobetoni technique makes use of the plasticity of concrete. I was inspired by concrete precisely because of this property, and in practice, I simply adapted the technique used for glass to concrete. It is exciting to see how the material reacts to being worked on, moulding under my very eyes", Renata says, describing her creative process.
The Muotobetoni technique can be used for a variety of applications, from large surfaces to furniture, interior decoration, tiles and other objects.
Security through a patent application
After coming up with the moulding method, Renata soon realised that her invention might be patentable. An important associate in pondering over the patenting strategy and describing the invention in patent language was Marjut Honkasalo, a patent attorney at Kolster.
"A patent application seemed to be the best way to cover my back in the early stages of the project. Other methods for protecting the idea, such as non-disclosure agreements, seemed either unreliable or complicated. I wanted to be sure and started working on an IP strategy, because I believe that Muotobetoni is a business idea that can be scaled globally", Renata explains.
She decided to start safely with a Finnish patent application and then continue through the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system. It gives up to 18 months of valuable additional time to decide in which countries or regions the patent will actually be applied for.
"18 months will give you time to found a company, start business operations and find partners. The consideration time and chance to divide costs over a longer time period are important benefits for an individual inventor. Pending applications and patents granted also give rise to new business opportunities through licensing or IP sales, for example", Marjut explains.
Time and expertise appreciated the mostRenata appreciates her introduction to the patent language and the world of patents, which seemed complicated at first. Perceiving the value of the patent, in particular, has been difficult for her.
"The most valuable IP benefits for me have been expertise and time, in that order. It is wonderful to be able to outsource one aspect of my work and rely on the IP expert to perform the tasks on my behalf."
For Marjut, who has protected numerous ICT inventions during her career as a patent attorney, the collaboration translated into refreshing variety, especially since she has also studied concrete-related technologies and worked with construction materials.
"Concrete has a special place in my heart, too. When I saw the invention, I was impressed by its simple ingeniousness. Now I’m even more convinced than I was before that creative industries are simmering with a lot of unprotected potential", Marjut says.
The foundation of future business
So far, Renata has been running Muotobetoni through her personal business as an artist, but a limited company that will commercialise the technique is about to be established. She has also found a business partner. Business operations will begin in Finland.
"Patents in the company’s name are the foundation of my new business, and they have been valuable in finding new partners. Pending patent applications alone have given my Muotobetoni project a lot of credibility."
The Finnish construction and concrete businesses want to be involved in creative and innovative collaboration, and their interest in aesthetics and high-quality concrete constructions has been awakened.
"My dream for the long-term is to make the method available to architects and designers of constructed environments abroad, too."
The first full-scale pilot application in Jyväskylä, a support wall in the Kangas neighbourhood, patterned using the Muotobetoni method.
"I hope that in the future, Muotobetoni will be used widely to produce a variety of vibrant, high-quality concrete surfaces", says Renata Jakowleff.