It is time for new packaging solutions – smart packages. This marketing move attracts more and more attention of manufacturers and is actively transforming, which causes confusion in understanding what smart packaging is. Who owns the rights to such smart packaging? And if you decide to use it for your products, you should pay attention to certain points before making a decision.
Let’s figure out and clarify the situation.
Initially, the term “smart packaging”, “active packaging”, and “interactive packaging” appeared in the early 90s when miniature devices with the common RFID abbreviation (radio frequency identifiers) were created, which were embedded in the cardboard of group and individual packaging of goods.
These devices allow to receive information about the product remotely (sometimes at a distance of 10 meters or more), and track the location and movement of goods using computerized systems – which made a mini-revolution in logistics and trade, as it allowed to minimize the influence of the human factor, significantly reduce costs and increase trade efficiency.
For the last five years, there has been a “marketing wave” of using the above terms for new objects – such as materials that can be used as packaging,
such as devices that are made using mechanical, electrical and electronic components.
Analysis of publications on the Internet shows about 3,000 patent documents and even more publications and information that uses the following terms:
The latter term is even on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_packaging).
As a result of a Landscape patent search, it was revealed that these terms are used to denote technical solutions that:
– relate to completely different areas and objects of engineering and technology;
– designed to perform completely different functions.
If you decide to use one of the types of smart packaging for your products, it is important to decide what functions it will perform, conduct a patent search to see if the market is free of monopolies for such a product and either develop your own or buy ready-made.
Smart Packaging Features:
– control of the time past from the time of manufacture of the goods;
– control of storage temperature of the goods;
– moisture control inside the package;
– control of the appearance in the package of undesirable substances, for example, oxygen;
– control of physical effects on the product – for example, shock, vibration, exposure to sunlight;
– control over the use and dosage of the product, for example, a medicinal product;
– other functions.
The above functions can be realized both with the help of materials (for example, polymer films), which have “non-standard” properties and can change their color depending on certain conditions, as well as with the help of devices placed on the package, in packaging, or binding packaging and device with software.
A feature of most devices is the presence of a programmable electronic element – which implies the use of a microchip.
One of the active producers of smart packaging is AUGUST FALLER.
A preliminary search and analysis of the found patent documents showed that the company called AUGUST FALLER KG has several dozen patent documents in the field of packaging, with most of the patents being German patents for utility models, the peak of patents was in the 90s of the 20th century, After 2000, the company has very few patents and applications – and the objects in these documents do not have any signs that would give grounds to attribute the object to “smart packaging”.
Thus, it may happen that the main patents, which protected the principle of operation of smart packaging and gave the greatest monopoly, have already ceased. Now it’s time to get patents for specific solutions.
Therefore, entering the market with such packaging and before conducting a patent search and determining patent freedom in the market, it is important to determine the specific solution with clear functions and specification of the basic content.
Functions are already listed above. Basic content may include:
• A monitor or other device in the package itself,
• Smart paints or other condition indicators,
• Communication with consumer device
• Their combinations
After such a narrowing of the task, it is already possible to carry out a patent search to determine the main developments in this direction, the main competitors for the next 5 years (it is known that global companies close the product with a patent before entering the market), find a free niche in the region of interest and take it. A company can occupy a niche by purchasing a ready-made product and creating its own. The main thing is that this packaging should be patent clean. On patent clearance and securing a monopoly on the product, you can read our other articles and get advice for your specific case in our Research Department or our national and international patent attorneys.
We will be glad to receive your questions and comments, ask. Our experience allows us to answer so many difficult questions.
Working for you, Intectica group
Image taken from source: https://www.bostik-industrial.com/smart-packaging-deserves-smart-adhesives/