Appleyard Lees

Inventor looks to Appleyard Lees to protect his life-saving device

A construction professional with experience in the mental health sector has developed a potentially life-saving device that could take the health, dementia and secure unit sectors by storm.

Gary Abell, 46, from Manchester, has invented an alarmed anti-ligature door hinge which enables users to have wardrobe doors to ensure privacy, enhance confidence and preserve dignity.

Gary, who has spent his career working in construction, became familiar with the challenges faced by staff and service users in the mental health sector when he was approached by a major facilities management company to install open faced wardrobes at a secure facility.

He noted that the open faced mechanism was causing heated disputes given that all possessions are visible, leading to issues around privacy. Open faced wardrobes are put in place to prevent hanging attempts. However, Gary’s inventive concept allows a door to be used on the wardrobe, while preventing successful hanging attempts. Key to the concept is the unique top and bottom pivot hinge design.

The door mechanism has a built-in resistance tolerance allowing a normal load (e.g. a bag or coat) without triggering the alarm. If the load tolerance is breached then a downward movement of 3mm activates an alarm. Continuation of the downward load will cause the top pivot to move the door away from the normal operating position by 25 degrees. This instantaneously removes a fixation point for the ligature.

Prior to developing the device, Gary had little knowledge of the importance of intellectual property (IP). He met with Appleyard Lees who advised him on the best means of protecting his invention. Given the innovative nature of the device and the business plan to support it, Gary was able to benefit from the Appleyard Lees Growth Fund, set up to support visionary SMEs.

An annual fund of £50,000 has been established by the specialist IP firm, which has offices in Manchester, Leeds and Halifax. Grants from the Appleyard Lees Growth Fund are awarded on a case by case basis to individuals or organisations with winning ideas, a track record for innovation and a sound strategic approach.
Commenting on this, Gary Abell said: “I realise how little I knew about IP prior to working on the invention. Being eligible for the growth fund has been hugely beneficial as I’ve made financial savings, which is critical given the investment needed to launch a product.”

Richard Bray, associate at Appleyard Lees, added: “It’s really rewarding working with inventors like Gary who seize an opportunity to create a product that has immediate impact, and who have a desire to protect their product.

“In this case, the product really can save lives, which brings its functionality into sharp focus. We wish him every success with taking his product to market, and look forward to working with Gary through the patent application process.”