29 January 2015

PatLib Libraries in the UK

Manchester Central Library
Photo Wikipedia
Yesterday the Intellectual Property Office published an updated guide to PatLib (patent library) centres in the United Kingdom. These libraries are part of a European network of over 320 patent information centres that provide information on patents and other intellectual property rights to the public.

There are now 15 PatLib libraries in this country, the latest being Hull and Northamptonshire Central Libraries. The others are at Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool. Llandudno Junction, London. Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield.

As well as offering access to Espacenet and other on-line databases, many libraries offer other services such as searches, patent clinics, watch services, workshops and seminars and inventors clubs. The services offered by each British library are listed in the guide.

The Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield central libraries are linked to the British Library in a national network of Business and IP Centres. This network is sponsored by the Arts Council of England, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Intellectual Property Office. Last week I attended the opening of Sheffield Business and IP Centre and wrote about it in Sheffield Business and IP Centre Launch 24 Jan 2015 IP Yorkshire.

Inventors, entrepreneurs, business owners and others who are not close to a Business and IP Centre or a PatLib library can nevertheless benefit by subscribing to the British Library's Business and IP newsletter and joining its Linkedin and Facebook groups.

Further Reading

29 Jan 2015 Northamptonshire Central Library joins the PatLib Network IP East Midlands
24 Jan 2015 Sheffield Business and IP Centre Launch IP Yorks
17 Jan 2014 Alternatives to Invention Promotion Companies
2 Jan 2015  Putting IP at the Heart of Your Business Plan   4-5 IP
2 Sept 2014 Sheffield Inventors Welcome Joyce Gray  IP Yorks
15 Aug 2014 Sheffield Business and IP Centre IP East Midlands
18 Oct 2013 Where to get free basic Information on Intellectual Property IP South East
14 Oct 2013 Business and IP Centre National Network IP Yorks
21 July 2013  Finding the Right IP Advice IP North West
10 July 2013 Practising the Dark Arts in Leeds and Sheffield - roll up to be enlightened IP Yorks
6 Mar 2013 Enterprise and Libraries: a New National Network of Business & IP Support
5 Oct 2012 Organizations that Inventors in Manchester should know about IP North West
21 Jan 2012 BIPC Newcastle
15 Aug 2011 Inventors Resources in Northern Ireland
2 Apr 2011 Resources for Inventors in South East England
21 Mar 2011 Business Support Update
23 Jan 2011 Resources for Inventors in Yorkshire and the Humber
5 Dec 2010 Resources for Inventors in North West England
26 Oct 2010 Resources for Inventors in North East England
21 Oct 2010 Local Enterprise Partnerships begin to take Shape
2 Mar 2006 Liverpool Inventors Club
15 Jan 2006 New Leeds PatLib Library Website

12 January 2015

Alternatives to Invention Promotion Companies

The other day I was asked for my opinion on an invention promotion company. It was not one that I had ever dealt with so I could not answer the enquiry directly but I referred the inventor to the advice that the US Patent and Trademark Office and our own Intellectual Property Office had given on invention promotion companies generally. 

The inventor thanked me for my reply and added:
"My family and friends have given me very positive feedback on my invention but how else do I check if my invention is good ?
What should I do next ?
Where can I find trustworthy contacts ?"
I replied:
"First do some market research. You can get some help with that at the Business and IP Centre of the British Library.
Next you should decide whether to exploit your invention directly by setting up in business to produce and sell it or licensing it out to someone else.
If you decide to license it out you will need to show your licensee how it will make money from the invention which means that you have to do much the same work as you would if you were making and selling it yourself. If you do get it out you will get a licence fee which will typically be a small percentage of the sale price.
I can advise you on the legal issues but not on the financial ones.
I wish you all the best with your invention."
The British Library and its associated libraries in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have massive resources on market research, business planning and everything else an inventor would need to know to set up in business. If he or she is not clear how to use those resources there are courses from the library staff and its partners.

I also advise the inventor to join an inventors' club if one is nearby. There he or she will meet product development consultants, patent attorneys, business advisers and other professionals who assist individual inventors and, most importantly, other inventors who can share their experience with him or her. I have listed some of the inventors clubs that I know about in the side panel to this blog. The Wessex Round Table of Inventors has a much longer list. I am sure that there will be lots of trustworthy and knowledgeable contacts at any of those associations.

In my email I made clear that I am a lawyer and not a business adviser. Here are some of the things I can do for inventors.

1. Tailoring a non-disclosure agreement to the inventor's needs or reviewing or advising the inventor on somebody else's.
2. Advising the inventor on the optimum intellectual property protection for his or her invention and if that includes patents helping him or her find and instruct patent attorneys in this country and abroad who can apply for them.  As I do not prosecute patent, design or trade mark applications I have no interest in selling the inventor a service though I must stress that every patent attorney I know would try to advise objectively too.
3. Representing the inventor at a hearing in the Intellectual Property Office if the examiner challenges his or her application.
4, Helping the inventor negotiate and draft agreements with collaborators, investors and consultants.
5. Drawing up terms and conditions, manufacturing and distribution agreements if the inventor wishes to make and sell the invention him or herself or licences if he or she doesn't and just about any other agreement the inventor may need.
6. Helping to keep the inventor out of trouble with third parties and resolving difficulties if any arise.

There was a time when barristers could be approached only through solicitors or patent or trade mark attorneys but that rule changed over 10 years ago, Now we can do more or less anything that a solicitor can do and as we don't have offices to maintain our services are often cheaper. You can find out more about instructing us in IP Services from Barristers 6 Apr 2013.

Should anyone wish to discuss this article, invention promotion companies or help to inventors in general they should contact me through my message form or call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours.

08 January 2015

Digital Business Academy

The Digital Business Academy is a collaboration between TechCity UK, Cambridge University Business School, Founder Centric and University College London to provide students with the skills they need to start, run, or join a digital business. There are 8 courses which are delivered online and through which students can work at their own pace.

Those courses are as follows:
  • Size up your idea – UCL
  • Turn your idea into a digital business – UCL
  • Develop and manage a digital product – Founder Centric
  • Make a marketing plan – Cambridge University Judge Business School
  • Build the brand – Cambridge University Judge Business School
  • Understand digital marketing channels – Founder Centric
  • Run a digital marketing campaign – Founder Centric
  • Master finance for your business – Cambridge University Judge Business School.
I signed up for the programme and have already completed the first part of the first course. Teaching is delivered by short videos and articles. There is also a networking forum. I shall let you know how I get on.

02 January 2015

Congratulations to Trevor Baylis CBE

Trevor Baylis
Photo Wikipedia

I should like to congratulate Trevor Baylis on his CBE for intellectual property.

I met Mr Baylis when I chaired the Brass from Gumption open day in Huddersfield on the 18 Feb 2004. This was a full day of seminars, exhibitions, patent searches, patent clinics and a simulated “Baylis Breakout” by the man himself. It was a great success which led to my setting up inventors' clubs at Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield and regular intellectual property clinics throughout the North,

I have not seen eye to eye with him on every issue but I share his objective of helping individual inventors to realize their ambitions. I wish him every success in those endeavours.