An open and shut case
08 January 2016
08 January 2016
Innovation, an open mind and IP are the keys to business success.
Jack Leivenzon’s business life has been about opening and closing doors. And not just because he made garage door openers.
He started with a family-owned garage door company called Firmadoor, which was sold to Wormald International. He and his father kept the electronics part of the business. This they turned into ATA, which made electronic door openers for garages, among other things. Jack then sold ATA, and after a three-year non-operational period, started Smart Openers.
As well as the obvious link of garage door openers, the concept driving all these businesses is innovation.
"Remote garage door openers had been around for a while, but there’s a lot of technology in what we were doing. The way we coded our transmitters, made them more compact, easier to use, easier to install, more efficient. We just kept innovating. We made sure we were the best in the world."
Jack did a lot more than make the best garage door openers. A love of IP and a head for business kept him ahead of the game. At each stage of his business life, owning intellectual property rights in his innovations enabled him to exploit both tangible and intangible assets, and allowed him to capitalise and move on to bigger (or smaller) and better things.
After the second time Jack moved on, he encountered a problem. He discovered that his old company, was using technology developed and owned by his third and newest company.
Throughout his journey he had been working with Griffith Hack and painstakingly patenting his innovative technology and collaborating to develop effective commercialisation strategies. Now it was time to test them.
"We sued them. The issues in the case were quite complex, and had not been fully dealt with in earlier cases. We agreed a settlement in relation to the use of our technology,’ says Jack. ‘But that wasn’t the end. We had to sue again, and the second time they decided to fight for longer."
"Noel Brett and Griffith Hack lawyer Justin Lambert, were brilliant. We decided to reach out directly to the parent company. We struck a deal that the group would acquire Smart Openers’ business, including the patents and resolve the dispute that way. It was a win-win for everybody. The patents were absolutely key."
Justin describes it as the best strategic outcome for the parties to the dispute in view of the matrix of legal, commercial and relationship issues involved. Jack would comment, but he’s off flying a plane somewhere, enjoying yet another very pleasant non-operating period, and perhaps concentrating on possible ventures in other fields.