28 April 2006

IP Audits: Tips from Downunder

Advice that I give constantly to my clients is to carry out an intellectual property audit (see, for instance, "Acquiring Intellectual Property" on our chambers website). But what is an IP Audit and how do you carry one out. Ian Cockburn, a patent agent from Aotearoa (aka NZ), has the answer in "IP Audit – A “How to” Guide". Ian gives us a worked example of a typical SME. There are other ways of approaching the task but this is certainly one way.

Ian's article appears in the WIPO SME Newsletter together with an article by one Aswath Damodaran of Stern School of Business on valuing brand names, flexibilities and patents which complements Ian's article in several ways and an article by a whole warren of worthy US patent lawyers on when to patent and when to rely on trade secrets.

27 April 2006

Information and Communications Technologies: Presentation to West Yorkshire Information Security Users' Group

Last Thursday I gave a talk on information security and the law at Leeds Civic Hall to the West Yorkshire Information Security Users Group. The talk was essentially an introduction and overview prompted by the recent publication of the DTI's Information Security Breaches Survey for 2004. I covered the various types of legal protection for information processing and also the corresponding burdens. As an experiment I have tried an animation with a voice over for the slides. This has turned out to be one of the most difficult and tedious jobs I have ever attempted so do listen. I have also uploaded a short handout in pdf.

26 April 2006

Happy World Intellectual Property Day

Today marks the anniversary of the day on which the WIPO Convention came into force and to celebrate that event the WIPO and its several member states have designated the 26 April as World Intellectual Property Day. For those who want to know more about it and more about what is going on today around the world, see "happy world intellectual property day" my other blog.

05 April 2006

Sheffield Inventors: Website Improvements

I have added a new "Presentations" page to the site. The first of these are the slides for Miles Rees's excellent talk "Raising Awareness" which I mentioned yesterday ("Sheffield Inventors: Rees launches Group" . Other additions are eight new service providers and a link through to our hosts, Sheffield Patent Library.

I have also announced the next event which will take place in Sheffield Central Library on Monday 5 June 2006 at 18:00 hours. I will give a talk on everything you will need to know about intellectual property:
"Introduction to law of confidence, patents, designs, trade marks and copyright. How you get each of these rights. What they protect. How to enforce them. How to exploit them. How to find and instruct patent and trade mark agents. Worked examples and questions and answers."

04 April 2006

Manchester Inventors: Grobox

We have had many examples of the wrong way to develop an invention. Today we were shown the right way. Beautifully presented, Jayne Lawton presented her GROBOX. A "grobox" is essentially a bulb or bulbs in a box. All you have to do is plant the box and let the plants grow. Even the laziest and most hamfisted gardener can use it.

Jayne told her story of how she got the idea from an egg box. She tested all sorts of combinations and bulbs in all sorts of environments to get the product right. Having perfected her product she protected it with a patent, trade mark and registered design. She also made sure that she could enforce her rights by taking out IPR insurance. However, her most important lesson was how she marketed the invention. From networking with more experienced business people she learned that the best publicity came from winning awards. She has won several including some of the really major competitions.

Although Jayne has displayed considerable business acumen, she has also shown concern for the environment. On the "Ethical Environmental" page of her website, she stresses the importance of being environmentally friendly. Her boxes are made from recycled and biodegradable material - even the straw benefits the garden ecosystem. Even the gift wrapping offered is made from seeded paper.

Jayne supports several charities and will be running for one of them in the London Marathon. She is looking for sponsors.

IPCEX: IP Students to help Manchester Inventors

A team of students from the BPP Law School in Manchester intends to offer pro bono IP legal advice service to Manchester Inventors. This is the latest service provided by the IP Centre of Excellence for the North, an initiative of lawyers, patent agents, academics, business people and others to improve and promote IP services in the region. The team has already published an excellent newsletter which can be downloaded from the Centre's website.

Maria Udalova-Surkova and at least one of her colleagues from that team will announce the service to the Manchester Inventors Group meeting at Central Library at 18:00 tonight. The team will be supervised at all times by at least one member of the teaching staff who holds a practising certificate from the Law Society and there will be input from each of the major law firms and chambers who support the Centre.

The Manchester initiative complements a similar scheme started by students at the BPP Law School in Leeds. Their service does not specialize in IP but they do publish an excellent IP newsletter. The November and January issues.

Finally, though he has no formal links with the Centre, I have to mention the efforts of Ian Best of Ohio State University in the USA. Ian has just completed a taxonomy of American and Canadian legal blogs which can be found at
This is part of a blog-for-credit independent study project, the first of its kind in the USA and probably the first anywhere. Ian's effort has been featured in Moritz e-Record which appears to be an interesting online publication from his law school. He has asked us to provide a link to his taxonomy which we are glad to do and we welcome his aim of encouraging more interaction between legal bloggers in different countries.

Sheffield Inventors: Rees launches Group

Sheffield Inventors got off to a flying start yesterday with an excellent presentation by Miles Rees of the Patent Office on what the Patent Office does for SME and individual inventors. He mentioned the Patent Office's liaison with schools and universities including Think KIT, its collaboration with police, customs and other agencies to stamp out piracy and counterfeiting, the specialist teams to handle enquiries from unrepresented applicants and the Patent Office Opinions and Mediation Services which had just been launched. The only thing that Miles did not mention was the announcement attributed to him on the IP/it Update blog on 1 April.

Miles had a good audience. I counted well over 22 persons in the audience which included patent agents and technical assistants, solicitors, business advisors and academics as well as inventors. Chris Hemingway of Bailey Walsh LLP and Kate Reid of Pemberton Reid said a few words about their firms as well as our host, Patent Librarian Sue Sayles, Richard Campos, Alan Warren of Business Link South Yorkshire and several other service providers. After a very lively discussion I asked for volunteers for a steering committee to confer by telephone and meet shortly before each event to discuss future events and a structure for the group. Kate Reid, Olusola Onatanmi, Sue Sayles, Chris Hemingway and Richard Campos very kindly offered to join. Many thanks to all of them. Thanks also to the Patent Office, Sheffield Central Library and staff and, of course, Miles Rees for a very enjoyable evening.