Looking to the future, 88% of businesses worldwide plan to adopt robotic automation into their infrastructure, according to McKinsey. But, while robots are getting smarter, many of the advancements have been on the digital side of things, according to co-founder and CEO of robotic hardware company Artimus Robotics, Timothy Morrissey.
“The physical side of the house just has not kept up,” says Morrissey. That’s why he launched Artimus Robotics in 2018, which is bringing forward the kind of critical hardware components for those next-generation robots to be used in automation across industries.
Can you describe your company’s technology?
Artimus spun out the University of Colorado, Boulder. We had identified that there was the need for new motion technologies. So, from the academic setting, we did what a lot of really intelligent people do. We looked to nature. We looked to millions of years of evolution and said, how does that work? In nature, we have soft, flexible muscles in our bodies, and they work really, really well. And so, we tried to design systems to do the same—making artificial muscles.
When did your company launch into IP?
As a hardware technology company, IP has been critical starting at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Following that, Yoriko has done quite a bit for us by maintaining what IP exists and morphing it into what Artimus needs today. We do have the freedom to adjust earlier IPs by filing continuations in addition to filing new application-specific IP.
What’s the competitive landscape like for hardware robotic technology?
While we are in a tight little niche, very recently, some very big companies have started filing a ton of IP directly around us. We are still at an early stage, a six-person company. We are venture-backed, and while we do have revenue, we are still resource-limited. So, when we start seeing huge fortune 50 companies filing 40 pieces of IP around ours, it gets scary. It makes us question if we need to put half of our resources into one product when that is not the right choice. In this regard, Yoriko has been exceptionally helpful, understanding that we are taking these threats seriously while still balancing the early stage of the business cycle that we are in.
What are the IP challenges you’re facing at Artimus?
Artimus Robotics is focused on advancing its fundamental technology, making our actuators stronger, faster, better, and more reliable. There’s a lot of IP that’s generated around that. We are also focused on the application-specific things as a component provider. That makes for interesting situations wherein it’s even in our interest for our customers to potentially be filing IP that relies on ours. They wouldn’t have freedom to operate without us, but at the same time, that can limit our ability to reach deeper into the market. What that means is that we do this very fine balance where we’re filing an IP that directly competes with our customers, just to make sure that they’re not our only customer. Yoriko helps us to frame that up.
How did you first connect with Yoriko?
Originally, we connected with her at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and then later at the Small Business Development Center. Yoriko is an educator, so she really helps us to understand legal and IP considerations in a way that helps us to make solid business decisions.
Did you have a lot of familiarity with the IP process before this?
No. We are learning it all new through our experience at the University of Colorado, Boulder and now through this process. It feels like I’m earning a live-action MBA. Yoriko does an amazing job of taking what we’re doing and turning it into a patent, but there’s still a massive lift from our technical team. They’re getting pretty good at it, too.
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