Sector - Sports, Culture & Leisure

Patent protection granted for innovative ‘hammock-style bath’

The luxury fittings and fixtures market values nothing more than unique design, with customers looking for individuality in all their purchases. In a world where originality is paramount, it’s essential that companies can protect their innovative products. This month’s article relates to a recently granted UK patent (GB2565372B) for a bath with an innovative drainage system that allows it to be suspended above the floor, much like a hammock.

Behind the patent is pioneering design company, Splinterworks Ltd, which is best known for its sculptural and imaginative designs of familiar items including baths, pool sides and furniture. Its latest innovation focuses on a plug with a threaded stem, which extends through a plug hole at the bottom of the bath. The plug stem is a substantially hollow cylindrical tube, with a plurality of openings in one particular section.

Referring to Figure 7 on the left, threaded onto the lower end of the plug is a flow restrictor (4), which sits below the body of the bath and outside of the plug hole. A locking nut (53) is threaded onto the plug stem above the flow restrictor to hold it in place. The plug is also able to move up and down relative to the plug hole so that water can drain out of the bath. When the plug is in an upper, open, position, water can drain under the head (51) of the plug through the openings in the plug stem (52) and into the flow restrictor. The flow restrictor includes a surface with a number of small orifices (46) so that water is slowed down as it drains into the external surface.

To enhance the aesthetics of the suspended bath, it is clearly desirable that there is no conduit connecting the bottom of the bath with the mains sewage system. By slowing down the flow of water through the plug hole, it is able to descend through the air to a drain in the floor of a wet room without the drain being overwhelmed. The innovative solution provides a simple and effective way of removing the need for connecting conduits, allowing a design in which the bath is entirely separate from the floor in what is described as a hammock-style design.

Splinterworks has obtained patent protection for the bath including the flow restrictor and its drainage system. This enables Splinterworks to benefit from robust protection against third parties that might be looking to copy its striking design or incorporate it into their own innovative designs.

By opting to protect the technical aspects of the concept, rather than just the appearance of the bath, Splinterworks’ IP strategy makes it difficult for competitors to make any kind of suspended bath without risking an infringement action. In this way, the company has set itself apart from other high-end bath designers and positioned itself at the forefront of the luxury fittings and fixtures market. Crucially, the patenting route gives Splinterworks up to 20 years of exclusivity in the UK.

Article submitted by Mark Sugden, senior associate and patent attorney in the Advanced Engineering group at European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers.

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