Dstl reaches milestone 1,000th intellectual property report

Posted on 28 April, 2021 by Advance 

On World IP Day, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory celebrated innovations such as the electronic pulse dart.


Peter, one of Dstl's inventors and engineers.
Courtesy Dstl

Imagine a dart that can be fired into an underwater warhead and safely explode it using an electrical pulse.

This is just one of many innovative ideas that Dstl staff are working on with as we celebrate World IP (Intellectual Property) Day (26th April).

One of the unique working methods of the dart was the 1,000th IP report logged by the organisation.

It is fitting that this milestone was reached by Peter, a serial inventor and engineer, who has worked at Dstl for five years and filed 20 IP reports in that time.

His latest work means naval mines can be cleared faster and at less overall cost than explosive methods while using available uncrewed systems.

The Pulse Dart comprises of a metal spike and tube with electronics.

The spike penetrates the case of the ordnance and contains a non-explosive energetic material to initiate the warhead.

The operator uses a remote control to trigger the explosion at a safe distance away.

Peter said: "Well it was actually a colleague that was taking me to a trial and he was describing to me the process for how we are developing mine disposal.

"I remember being in the car just driving and just thinking I wonder what would happen if you electrocuted the mine with a couple of hundred thousand volts… I’m guessing it’s probably going to explode."

His dart is being made in Dstl workshops in Salisbury.

He added: "You would be surprised what can come out of ideas.

"When you are inventing something you are just doing what you do. You enjoy your work and you are just finding the solution to a problem – it’s your daily bread.

"You can miss the value of the idea in different fields because it’s not what you’re used to. This is one of the reasons is why reporting IP is so important because you might not recognise there may be another application for the idea you’ve had."

Dstl protects its work by officially logging novel ideas and unique work with its IP team.

Registering the prior knowledge of an idea or process enables the scientists at Dstl to continue to use their ideas even if a third party later devises and tries to protect to the idea.

Where a commercial application is identified a patent is particularly useful helping the technology to be licensed out.

Dstl is a proven national asset which works with academia and industry, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Head of IP Graham said how a new system was developed at Dstl in 2017 to make it easier for the organisation’s world-class scientists and inventors to submit IP reports. They now get around 300 a year.

He added: "Peter is one of our most innovative people and a great individual to work with. One of those people who has got a really enquiring mind.

"He is always working with us to ensure we can protect his idea and get the greatest impact from the work he does.

"World IP Day is of great importance in the professional and across the technical world.

"It’s all about raising awareness of Intellectual Property across the world and the value it can bring to science and technology."