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Ironing board invention overcomes the odds


November 10, 2003

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Tuesday November 11, 2003

Australian inventor Garry Allen persevered through a five-year court battle against a German corporate giant in order to retain control over his invention - a folding-iron board that can be reduced to the size of a large brief case and fixed to a single wall stud in even the tightest location, because it unfolds parallel to the wall and rotates 180 degrees to any position you like.

Allen took the company to court after it released a copy of his ironing board to market. He lost on appeal however, after a legal loophole found in his contract with the company.

"Basically I had a signed confidentiality agreement that they completely ignored," Garry said.

His agreement had no definite end date and this meant it was void. It had breeched fair trade practices.

"At the time my contract was drawn up, no one considered a time limit important. Even today, it is not standard for confidentiality agreements to have an end date.

"I want all inventors to be aware of this. Without an end date, they place themselves at great risk," he said.

Despite this, Garry's commitment to his idea continued and is now a growing business after designing a superior model to the original version.

"I wanted to design a real product that would be recognised by the public as valuable. Not just some cheap gimmicky thing," he said

'Lifestyle Ironing Centre' is easy to install yourself and is designed so that you can sit at it, making it particularly useful if you are elderly, disabled or injured.

Garry had various different prototypes before he perfected the design. The final break came some 30 thousand feet in the air over Atlanta Georgia. "My best ideas are often created on a plane, when I am doodling on paper to pass the time," he said.

Now the Lifestyle Ironing Centre' is selling very well overseas, including US and Europe.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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