How Patents Drive Innovation in the Textile Industry

    How Patents Drive Innovation in the Textile Industry

    The textile industry is one which is full of opportunities for creativity and innovation. Just as is true of any other industry, this innovation can be kickstarted through the issuance and use of patents. As long as the subject material of any textile product is eligible for a patent, its inventor may apply for one.

    Textile patents can involve items and processes such as new methods for the dyeing of fabrics, garments designed to promote hygiene and cleanliness, and even entirely new types of fabrics. Although these items are primarily used for the purposes of clothing, patented textile products can also be used to spur innovation for carpet, mattress, underlay, and even tent materials.

    Design and Utility Patents in the Textile Industry

    Like in many other industries, patents help inventors of textiles and textile-related products protect them from any act of infringement. For example, a person who builds a completely new embroidery machine or makes significant improvements to an existing weaving machine may use a patent for the purposes of protection. These inventions can be protected by the use of a utility patent because the items in question have a defined functional use.

    Those who have created a new textile or fabric, meanwhile, should seek a design patent rather than a utility patent. This is because they desire protection for the designs displayed on the material rather than the material itself as well as its potential uses. Design patents may protect every non-functional aspect of a textile or fabric. It is typically simpler to obtain a design patent for a textile product than it is to obtain a utility patent for the same product because its coverage tends to more directly pertain to textile products.

    Patents and Development in the Textile Industry

    Patented innovations have been the source of much development within the textile industry. Consider the comfortable yet highly durable material of which vehicle seat coverings of today are made. Another notable example can be found in the development of automatic button wrapping technology. This is the form of technology which allows buttons on clothing to be attached with as little difficulty as possible.

    Through the use of patents, the rate of development of textile products is greater today than it has ever been. As a result of these developments, textile products today tend to be user-friendly, convenient, high-quality, and marketable. Some of these patents have resulted in the creation of items such as “smart textiles” which are textile products which use optical fiber sensors. Others have led to the development of fabrics resistant to heat buildup or static electricity buildup.

    The textile industry as a whole has thus been showing considerable growth; the continued increase of patents within it is likely to accelerate this financial upswing.

    Patented Textile Products for Health and Safety

    Certain textile products which have been patented are designed to have positive effects on a person’s health and safety. For example, some patents for footwear protect mechanisms designed to prevent a wearer from slipping. They increase friction when a wearer steps on icy, slippery, or wet surfaces while wearing them. If not for patents, these inventions could not be protected, making them more difficult to be marketed and thus increasing many people’s risk of suffering an injury by slipping on a dangerous surface.

    In addition, some fabrics are now made using antiviral material; this practice has become much more common ever since the onset and intensification of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fabrics have antibacterial and antiviral nanoparticles woven into their fibers, granting the wearer an additional layer of protection. Once again, the patenting of these fabrics creates positive health outcomes by allowing more members of the public to be exposed to such products.

    Environmentally-Friendly Patented Textile Innovations

    By using a patent, the inventor of an environmentally-friendly textile product can more effectively use the related innovation to protect the environment. Some recent textile innovations have been sourced from organic or industrial waste material. The waste material is subsequently turned into either fiber or dyes. However, the resulting products would not be likely to benefit from full commercialization and thus maximize their eco-friendly effects if they are not protected by patents.

    The manufacture of many types of textile has typically consumed much water. To counteract this problem, an increasing number of textile patents have been granted to technologies which require very little use of water. Many recently patented innovations in the industry have been much less water-intensive than their predecessors. Future patents in the textile industry are also expected to follow in these pro-environment footsteps, thus helping to make the industry and the world much greener and more carbon-neutral.

    This article is brought to you by Exy Intellectual Property Malaysia and Singapore.