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Two Northern Ireland companies lead the way in launching brand new iPad app

Two innovative Northern Ireland companies have teamed up to produce one of the first apps approved by Apple for its newly launched iPad after a chance conversation on Twitter.

PatentNav, recently started by Dr Eddie O’Gorman to provide guidance to inventors keen to commercialise their ideas, got chatting on the social networking site with Bubble, which produces products that help trainers communicate safety messages.

They came up with an app that uses PatentNav’s content and Bubble’s multilingual Speechbubble cartoon tool to guide students and investors through the patent process, from idea to obtaining a patent grant.

After being invited by Apple to put forward an app they only had two weeks to get it ready and because the iPad was not available its had to be developed virtually. Unlike many others they got it approved to go into the iPad’s launch store on iTunes.

“It was a miracle we got onto the iPad launch and made it through the process. The developer forums showed just how hard it was and lots of people were dropping out because of the timeframe,” said O’Gorman, who has set up on his own at the Northern Ireland Science Park after 10 years in the IT industry.

As far as he knows it was the only Northern Ireland-produced app in the launch store and has been positively received, with enquiries from as far afield as India.

Mr O’Gorman adds: “We don’t think we will make a huge amount of money from this on the iPad, but maybe could on the iPhone. But if these guys in India and China are interested, we could create national versions by changing characters to suit the local region.

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“Every country has its own patent law quirks but we think it can be adapted, the programme has all the basics in there.”

Though it is not just an application development company PatentNav may develop another app for professionals.

“The service we’d like to provide for clients is information that they could have at hand during a meeting, or a secure app that would be specifically for one company,” Mr O’Gorman said.