31 May 2012

IPO's Plan to support SME

"From ideas to growth: Helping SMEs get value from their intellectual property" is the title of the Intellectual Property Office ("IPO")'s plan for supporting small and medium enterprises ("SME"). The services that it proposes to offer are as follows:
  1. providing training and awareness raising seminars for businesses;
  2. providing online tools to help businesses assess their IP assets, 
  3. funding strategic IP audits for businesses where IP has been identified as a critical issue for their growth;
  4. funding Masterclass training for business advisers within other public sector business support schemes, such as GrowthAccelerator, the Technology Strategy Board’s Catapult Centres and the Patent Library network;
  5. extending the model used at the Business and IP Centre in London to six regional patent libraries;
  6. working with the local enterprise partnerships to offer tailored local advice to businesses in different regions;
  7. stimulating the creation of business and IP advice networks across the UK;
  8. creating a strong network of business advisers that SMEs are able to access for sound commercially relevant IP advice;
  9. continuing the Cracking Ideas competition to introduce school children to intellectual property, and
  10. working with universities to reach students who need a good understanding of intellectual property to benefit their future careers and the wider economy.
The public is invited to comment on those proposals by 3 July 2012.  The IPO will use any feedback to develop new and improve existing services.   Responses should be addressed to sme@ipo.gov.uk.

11 May 2012

Kate Reid: Confidentiality and Licensing

Counsel are probably in the best position to judge whether a solicitor, patent or trade mark agent is any good because we are instructed by members of those professions. Since the 4 July 2004 barristers have been permitted to deal directly with the public. Public access has changed the way we are instructed but it has not changed the work that we do. If a case requires a solicitor we have a professional duty to advise our client to that effect.   As often as not, the first question from the client is "Can you recommend one?"  I usually make a number of suggestions depending on the nature of the work but it it involves litigation or licensing I nearly always include Kate Reid, principal of Pemberton Reid.

According to her web page, Kate qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and worked at both Hammonds and Lupton Fawcett in Leeds before setting up Pemberton Reid.  In addition to her LLB she holds a post-graduate diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice.   She has been instructed in some important cases:
"Antec International v AVS (patent infringement), Antec International v SWC (passing off), Scholes Windows v Magnet (design right infringement), Tyco European Metal Framing v Clewer & others (design right infringement ), 1-800 Flowers (objection to a trade mark application), Bentone v EOGB (trade mark invalidity proceedings)."
Her work now includes:
  • advising on the existence and extent of intellectual property
  • advising on infringements of intellectual property rights
  • intellectual property agreements such as licences and assignments and confidentiality agreements
  • intellectual property litigation in the High Court and Court of Appeal
  • proceedings in the patent office regarding ownership and entitlement to patents
  • prooeedings in the trade marks registry regarding opposition and invalidity of trade marks
  • WIPO domain name dispute resolution actions 
  • due diligence for purchasers and sellers of intellectual property
  • distribution, supply and commercial agency agreements
  • terms and conditions of trading
  • advising on the Commercial Agents Regulations 1993
  • litigation in relation to the Commercial Agents Regulations 1993.
Kate was guest speaker to the World Intellectual Property Day meeting of Leeds Inventors Group on 18 April 2012 (see "Kate Reid at the Leeds Inventors Group 18.4.12"  26 April 2012).  The title of her talk was "Confidentiality and Licensing"). On confidentiality she discussed
  • why use a confidentiality agreement
  • what is confidential information
  • when is information not confidential
  • how long will information be confidential, and
  • what can it be used for.
On licensing she talked about the nature of a licence and the rights that can be granted, royalties and the usual terms with a few special words about trade marks.   

Immediately after her talk we had a presentation from FabLab Airedale which is now open for business (see
"FabLab Airedale: Introductory Offer and Visit" 2 May 2012 IP Yorkshire). The next meeting of the Leeds Inventors Group will be a visit to FabLab Airedale in Keighley on 16 May 2012 between 18:00 and 20:00 (see "16th May Leeds Inventors Group -visit to Fablab Airedale" 2 May 2012 Leeds Inventors Group blog).   Inventors from Sheffield are also invited and I am sure that those from elsewhere would be very welcome.   If you want to come please call Ged or Stef on  0113 247 8266.

Finally, a plug for Sheffield Inventors.   If you want investment to develop your invention come to Sheffield Central Library, Surrey Street, S1 1XZ at 18:00 sharp on 14 May 2012 to hear Mr. Russell Copley of Angels Den speak on  "Raising Business Growth Investment - Alternatives to Bank Finance". Angels Den is one of the largest angels networks in the UK.

Further Reading
Jane Lambert Sample Confidentiality Agreement 21 Sep 2010

06 May 2012

Lean Startup

A very good friend keeps telling me that great ideas are 10 a penny. An evening at any inventors' club anywhere in the kingdom seems to prove the point.  Britain is buzzing with inventive talent.   What is much harder to find is great execution.  Many (indeed most) of those great ideas never see the light of day.   Indeed, most of the patents on the register have never been worked.

A possible solution to the problem of getting great ideas to market may be the lean startup methodology. It is a principle developed by entrepreneur and author Eric Ries in his book "The Lean Startup". It is summarized in the following proposition:
"The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers' hands faster. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development."
The basic concept is the "minimal viable product" which is represented by the circle set out above. An idea for a new product or service is tested by building one that has just the features that enable it to be deployed and no more. Market reaction is measured and considered and the product is either refined or abandoned.

Publisher and visionary Tim O'Reilly suggested that it is an approach that can be applied to many things other than business:
"The Lean Startup isn't just about how to create a more successful entrepreneurial business...it's about what we can learn from those businesses to improve virtually everything we do. I imagine Lean Startup principles applied to government programs, to healthcare, and to solving the world's great problems. It's ultimately an answer to the question 'How can we learn more quickly what works, and discard what doesn't?"
In other words how to use time effectively.

Ries's book has given rise to a worldwide movement of lean startup enthusiasts. A group has existed in London for some time.  There is now a group in Manchester which will meet on Bank Holiday Monday at the Business School at 18:00. I will be there and am looking forward to meeting other members of the group.

01 May 2012

Keighley FabLab opens for Business

Over the last few months we have said a lot about FabLabs in this and our accompanying blogs (see Jane Keats on "Factories of the Future" 7 Nov 2011 and the "Further Information on FabLabs" at the end of my article on Haydn Insley's talk to the Liverpool Inventors' Club of 28 Jan 2012).

The first FabLab in Britain opened in Manchester and I wrote about it in "FabLab Manchester" and "The Manchester FabLab" in IP North West on 18 July 2011. Now a second FabLab has opened in Keighley and I took a look at it on 20 April 2012.

The Keighley FabLab (known as "FabLab Airedale") is a joint venture between Bradford City Council, the Airedale Partnership and Leeds City College which has a campus at Keighley. The connection with the College  enables the FabLab Airedale to supply business as well as technical advice to users. That is a service that not every FabLab can offer.

FabLab Airedale has all the equipment that I saw in Manchester on 5 August plus two impressive bits of kit of its own, namely a Denford lathe and a Denford router, Denford is based in Brighouse which is not far from Keighley.  James Kitson, the manager of FabLab Airedale worked there before he took up his present appointment.

If you have not yet visited a FabLab you have an opportunity on 16 May 2012.  Leeds inventors club are paying them a visit on that day between 18:00 and 19:45 (see "16th May Leeds Inventors Group -visit to Fablab Airedale"  on the Leeds Inventors Group blog for 30 April 2012).  If you want to attend the event call Ged or Stef of Leeds Central Library on 0113 247 8266.

The next FabLab to open will probably be Freerange Artists in Carlisle which I mentioned in my article "Introducing IP to Freerange Artists in Carlisle" on 10 March 2012.   Others are planned for Scotland, Merseyside and Northern Ireland.  If anyone is interested in learning more, there is a FabLabUK group on meetip.com and a FabLab Manchester group on Linkedin.  There are also organizations run on very similar lines to FabLab such as Sheffield's Refab Space which I discussed in "Integreatplus's Learning Lunch: Refab Space and FabLab" on 24 Feb 2012 in IP Yorkshire.

If you want to find out any more, contact me through my contact form,, Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter or call me on 0800 862 0055.