When you have the best product of its type in the world, you need patents to protect it.

For Smartair Diffusion, an Australian developer, distributor and maker of specialist air diffusion products, patent protection gives the company reassurance that copycats can’t steal its unique designs.

“There’s a lot to it,” says company co-founder and Chief Executive Sean Badenhorst. “It has to be quiet, energy efficient, get warm or cool air to people, deliver fresh air, and be cost effective.”

The company is currently involved in the Sydney Opera House function centre and concert hall upgrade, has had its systems installed in the technically demanding BBC studios in Wales and in the prestigious V&A Museum in Dundee, Scotland, and is currently supplying its patented floor swirl diffusers to a new 6 Green Star rated 39,000 m2 office tower at 839 Collins St in Melbourne, Australia.

“As a small Australian-based company it’s important we have products that outperform our competitors, because we don’t have the significant brand presence that they do”, Sean says.

“Our adjustable swirl diffusers have the highest capacity in the world, and are ideally suited to distribution centres and large storage warehouses, with projects including temperature critical pharmaceuticals and even Ikea in China.”

“Similarly, our floor swirl diffuser is unique: it provides individual users with the highest possible degree of comfort personalisation, and it is this that has made it so successful internationally.”

Smartair Diffusion has worked with Griffith Hack for 10 years, drafting the patent for its floor swirl diffuser and working with the company on the patent examination process in the US, EU, China, and others.

“As a patent attorney it is very satisfying to work with Sean who has a deep technical understanding of the products married with an astute realisation of the commercial significance that IP protection can have for a business,” says Peer Watterson, Special Counsel, at Griffith Hack.

Sean says an early piece of advice from Griffith Hack when drafting the specifications for the floor swirl patent was to provide as much information about the product as possible.

He says they have since gone back into that early material during the patent examination process in the US.

“I didn’t understand the significance of that advice until then.”

Peer says that for young companies it can be important to include as many details about their inventions to maximise the possibility of protection covering their successful products into the future.

Sean studied air-conditioning as part of his engineering degree in South Africa and has worked in research and development around the world, including for Mercedes Benz in Germany.

He’s since moved from air-conditioning small spaces in cars to large-scale projects world-wide, including commercial towers, museums, TV studios and concert halls.