Rather than treading the boards of commerce looking for customers for its medical software, Plato Clinical Information Systems can afford to let the customers knock on its door because it has patented its software according to its managing director, Paul Ryan.
"We have a Fortune 100 company coming to us asking to license our software because they need that kind of functionality. It makes my job a lot easier," says Ryan, brother of Plato founder John Ryan.
Plato has patented a method of extracting medical data from systems, a patent broad enough that it's helping open doors for Plato in new markets.
"It gave us a greater level of comfort to go into the US market," says Ryan, formerly the director of wireless internet company Walker Wireless.
"Our first patent took three years to sort out, but I understand it's longer now," says Ryan who is happy to have avoided the troubles of the telecommunications sector over the past 18 months.
"Wireless is big, but this is bigger. The potential here is huge."
Plato first applied with the Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) in 1993 and once it had secured the rights to the New Zealand market it went after a US patent as well.
"It's important to get a good patent lawyer to sort this out for you." Ryan says once Plato had secured a US patent he discovered companies coming to him to do business.
"New Zealand businesses have to get real about patenting their technology. We've all heard stories of great success in the industry but we need to make sure it's our success that's happening."
IPONZ says it doesn't break out software patents from other forms of invention but that anecdotally there does seem to be an increase in the number of patents being issued for this kind of technology.
"I'd say yes, we're definitely seeing more of that kind of application come through," says an IPONZ spokesman.
"The application time really depends on the work done before hand. You can apply with very little detail and get a kind of marker for your application that gives you a year to provide us with the full application, and from there it can take a little over a year for us to process. But if you've done all the homework yourself you don't need to bother with that stage at all and that shortens the process considerably."