The never-ending IP Journey…

A lot of people who are following the issues Triclimb has faced over the last two years understand why Triclimb has worked so hard to protect it’s intellectual property. Others have questions about it. A few examples of questions we get asked:

– Wasn’t “the” Triclimb was invented by Emmi Pikler 50-100 years ago?

– Today it seems like everyone is selling Triclimbs. Didn’t everyone just copy Emmi’s Triclimb and make it their own?

– It’s a triangle with some poles – how can it be protected?

So what is IP? IP stands for “intellectual property.” And that’s just what it is – property. Just like a car or some other possession. Copying someone’s IP is stealing in its simplest form and that’s why it’s a big deal.

Despite being a designer and then teaching the subject I’d never really thought too deeply about Intellectual Property – since designing the Triclimb I’ve had to think about it a lot.

I’m not an IP (Intellectual Property) lawyer. I’ve had to learn fast; I’ve now sat in and contributed to round table discussions with the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) and the Design Council so I have a basic grasp on the issues around IP. However, the more I learn the more I realise how much I don’t know! Design Law is considered one of the most complex there is. You can find basic info on the government website and ACID (Anti Copying in Design) is a good place to start looking too.

With regards to Triclimb and protecting its IP, it’s rather simple. Emma Pikler created her ‘approach’ in the 1930’s. The approach was a theory, a set of principles – not a product. There is no official “Pikler Triangle design”. There are five makers in the world who are authorised to use the Pikler Trademark name. They all produce ‘traditional’ but slightly different designs, all unique to them, all protectable by that company.

There is a ‘traditional style’, that’s been around for many years. Triclimb broke the mould on that style. Triclimb’s design was the first to introduce the self-supporting joint, the outrigger feet, a secondary locking point and slim line legs. It was the first to remove the need for the large bracing triangle due to a unique joint that spreads the load through the frame – the frame is therefore not reliant on the two small thumb screws for support. It was the first on the UK market to be fully safety tested as an activity toy to EN71 parts 1,2,3 and 8 – which means the slide/ramp must be lockable in place and we cannot go over 60cm for the size to be legally compliant.

The Triclimb name is now being used to describe multiple frames that are not actually Triclimbs, a bit like the Hoover is to vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner is the name of the product, Hoover is a specific company. There are multiple makers of the vacuum cleaner – Hoover, Dyson etc all have their own designs, all of which do the same basic job but vary in design, function, complexity, and effectiveness. But all are vacuum cleaners. All have a design specific to them and are protectable by their respective designers/companies.

We hope that helps explain a bit.