28 February 2006

Football: German Patent Office Website

A post from my other blog which may interest some of your chaps is on the German patent and trade mark office's contribution to the world cup celebrations "Fußball und Technik" ("Football and Technology"). It covers virtually everything one could ever wish to know about football and intellectual property from patent specifications for footballs to the prior art of stadium technology. The site is in German but many of the specifications are from the UK and other English speaking countries and navigation is pretty obvious.

Basic Patent Law Presentation

Although intended primarily for solicitors I have uploaded a basic introduction to patent law on my IP/it Update website which inventors may find interesting. It covers the sort of questions that I am most frequently asked as counsel:
- Which is the best way to protect investment in R & D?
- How to resolve disputes between collaborators?
- What happens if someone infringes a patent?
- How can my client make money from his invention?

I have experimented with putting hypertext links in the text. Thus, if you want to find out about inventors clubs click "Inventors Links" on slide 19 to be transported to the Wessex Round Table's excellent links page.

26 February 2006

Blackburn Inventors: "From Shed to Success"

My wife and I attended Ideas NW (Blackburn inventors club)'s jamboree at the Saturn Centre in Blackburn yesterday and very good it was too. The event is continuing today and readers in the area are urged to visit it. The Saturn Centre is a bit difficult to find (even for those who have been there before) but the event is well worth the trek.

There is an exhibition which includes the Patent Office, their neighbours Awdurdod Datblygu Cymru, Forbes (a local law firm) who dispensed some rather nice orange bags - good to see some competition for Taylors who have had the IP solicitors' market in the old cotton mill towns more or less to themselves up to now - Lancaster University and our very own pd-m Ltd from Harrogate. There were also talks. I sat in on Chris Brown's of Manchester Patent Library which was very good. Also good was a talk by Mark Wyatt from Enterprise Ventures on venture capitalists. Like every such talk he stressed the prime concern of a VC was an exit strategy. I hinted that most of the bods there could make better use of a business angel which was a proposition with which Mark did not disagree.

Altogether, it was a very good day and Basil Philipsz and his team are to be congratulated.

19 February 2006

What the Dragons were looking for

One of the most interesting presentation of Venturefest Yorkshire last week was the presentation by Doug Richards of Library House. Doug, like me, is a graduate of UCLA. As I observed when I asked him a question, we Bruins are not too thick on the ground in this country. While I would have preferred to have heard more about Library House and the Gauntlet Test in particular, it was his appearance on "Dragons' Den" that drew the crowd. As it happened, one of the people who didn't manage to get any money out of him was in the audience and posed a question about why better due diligence had not been done on one of the panellists who ended up needing help herself.

Doug's talk centred on what the dragons were looking for. He listed four things:
  • benefit
  • team
  • market and
  • return.

One trap that all entrepreneurs fall into is what he called the "ugly baby" trap. Nobody would ever hurt a new mother by telling that her baby was ugly even when it is. So it is with entrepreneurs who discuss a project with family and friends. Few will be offensive enough to tell them that their idea is rubbish. So they will be told that they have a great idea and proceed to waste resources on it. Far better to get an objective opinion.

Not everyone agrees with Doug's judgments on bright ideas. One inventor he turned down was David Wilks of Varyflush who has just won £40,000 in the Shell Springboard competition. Congratulations David!

One point that bugged me throughout Doug's presentation was why would anyone as capable and busy as Doug go onto Dragons' Den? It can't be for the BBC appearance money. Doug is clearly not short of a bob or two. So I asked him. The answer I got was that he did it for a hoot. And then I am afraid I cooled on him. Making these poor chaps climb us several flights of stairs (in some cases carrying their invention) and then bare their souls seemed positively Hogarthian. A bit like visiting Bedlam.

07 February 2006

Patent Insurance

I have just received an email from IP360 (a US intellectual property news subscription service) about an article on patent litigation entitled "Patent Insurance: Pricey, But May Be Worth It". You have to subscribe to the service to read the article but the website advertises free trials and individual monthly subs start at US$39.

The interesting thing is that Americans actually feel they need patent insurance. One would have thought it would have been a lot easier for patentees there than here. By and large, legal and patent attorneys (agents)' fees are more reasonable there than here. There are some lawyers who will take infringement cases on a contingency fee. Costs do not usually follow the event. Triple damages are available for wilful infringement and "wilful infringement" means infirngement in the knowledge of the existence of a patent. There are no threats actions there. Patents are available for inventions that are not patentable here. The doctrine of equivalents catches claims that would not be caught by art 69 EPC.

05 February 2006

Huddersfield Inventors: New Inventor and Service Provider Members

There has been an excellent response to the launch of Huddersfield Inventors. We have had enquiries from both inventors and service providers.

The latest service provider to join is PNG Marketing, a consultancy run by one of the University's most talented marketing gurus, Nadio Granata. Nadio is well known for a number of initiatives including LunchNet networking events.

One of the first inventors to pick up the phone was Varyflush who is already an established local inventor. So we are off to a good start.

IP Insurance: Two More Insurers Identified

The most popular post to have appeared on this blog is "IP Insurance". In that post I mentioned a number of websites which contained some useful information. I can now add two more:

REA(C)T a service provided by Charles Milne & Co and underwritten by Hiscox Plc. The website has a lot of information about intellectual property, the policies offered by that company, FAQ and links.

Camberford Law IP: There is not a lot of information on their site but they appear to be a firm of brokers established in Bromley.

Neither of these mentions is an endorsement. Readers should make their own enquiries and rely on their own judgment and professional advice. Further information on IP insurance will be provided as and when it becomes available.

More Gadgets

Yesterday, I drew your attention to the spider catcher. On today's BBC's website there are some more weird and wonderful contraptions such as a table top gamer, e-paper, anti-bugger and freespace controller (The future of today's technology). Great solutions for the world's problems all of them! Aren't they! Rather more interesting in my book is Nicholas Negroponte's US$100 laptop at One Laptop per Child ("OLPC"). Interestingly, ZD Net reports that Microsoft is miffed by the OLPC concept and is thinking of introducing its own based on a mobile phone (Gates 'secretly bitter' about $100 laptop).

04 February 2006

Things that Folk Invent

The Spider Catcher tickled my fancy just now while I was looking up the Second Tuesday event on the Ideas21 website. There was a banner just above the site called "The Spider Catcher" and I couldn't resist clicking on it.

As its name suggests its a way of catching spiders. Two products are available: a standard spider catcher and a travel spider catcher. The story with a picture of the inventor Tony Allan posing with Trevor Baylis is well worth reading.

The invention apparently won the Geneva invention fair in 2001. Well done, Tony and good luck! Perhaps you would like to come onto this blog and let us know how you are doing.

Forthcoming Events

The following events likely to interest inventors in the North of England are coming up shortly:

7 Feb 2006 Manchester Inventors Group: Tony Ward and Mark Stone Manufacturing Institute "From an Idea to a Manufacturer", Manchester Central Library, committee room, 18:00 - 19:45 (tea and biscuits will be served).

15 Feb 2006 Leeds Inventors' Club: Dai Davis, Nabarro Nathanson, "Making Money from your Ideas" Leeds Central Library, top floor, 18:00 - 19:45 (tea and rather better biscuits than you get in Manchester will be served).


that day you can hear me talk to the Manchester solicitors about patents: "All You Are Ever Likely to Need to Know About Patents So long As You Stay In Manchester" Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS.

Dai's talk is free whereas the Manchester Law Society will charge you £58.75 to hear mine. On the other hand, if you are a solicitor you do get some CPD points. Call Donna Brown on 0161 819 1927 or email her at DonnaBrown@manchesterlawsociety.org.uk for details.

17 Feb 2006 Huddersfield Inventors "Brass from Gumption" at the Kirklees Media Centre 14:00 to 16:00, Launch meeting in the Circle Room 14:00 - 15:00 (free tea and biscuits), free patent clinic with patent agent Chris Hemingway from 14:00 to 16:00 in the Business Generator Boardroom (call Ged and Stef on 0113 2478266 or email them at piu@leeds.gov.uk to make your booking and Ged will be giving free patent, trade mark and design searches in my room in chambers at the same time (give them a bell to make the booking).

21 Feb 2006 Ideas 21, CUBE 113-115 Portland Street, Manchester, Peter Raymond MBE, "University Contribution to Inventive Innovation", call Linda on 020 8780 9017 (there is a £20 charge unless you are in Ideas21 in which case you get £5 off but Ideas 21 do throw in some food and drink).

24 Feb 2006 My end of month IP workshop for the Huddersfield Business Generator, NIPC
Book through Jacquie Asquith on +44 (0) 1484 483080
The Media Centre 7, Northumberland Street, Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

25/26 Feb 2006 North West Inventors Expo 2006 Saturn Centre, Greenbank Technology Park, Blackburn (The Saturn Centre is about as easy to find as Phoebe on a Saturnine eclipse so you will need to email Mark Grogan mailto:markgrogan@fsmail.net or Jim McGovern j.mcgovern@blackburn.ac.uk on 01254 581467 for directions). I sponsor Ideas NW (the Blackburn inventors club) to the tune of £120 a year so if you live or work in the area please try to make the effort.

These and other events are all listed on the "Events" page of the Huddersfield Intellectual Property website. There are also links to other peoples' events from that page.

02 February 2006

HI Huddersfield Inventors

The reason why this blog has been quiet over the last few days is that I have been working on the website for HI. HI stands for Huddersfield Inventors and is a club for businesses and individuals with bright ideas in the metropolitan borough of Kirklees. The strapline for HI is "... exploiting bright ideas from Huddersfield" and we hope to do that through:
- Events like talks, workshops, clinics, exhibitions and brainstorming sessions,
- Providing a venue for inventors to meet funding bodies, lenders, investors and others, and
- Negotiating
concessions and discounts from those who provide services to inventors.

There are two classes of membership:
- inventors in Kirklees (the people for whom this club is founded and who I hope will eventually take over management from me and run it for themselves in the way that the Blackburn, Croydon and Wessex clubs run themselves) and
- service providers such as patent agents, lawyers, funding agencies, universities, IP insurers and just about anybody except invention promoters anywhere in the world who are prepared to offer something to inventor members like a 20 minute patent clinic or a discount on their fees.

Membership of both classes runs from year to year and is free for the first year so if you want to join just send an email to Huddersfield Inventors.

The first event will be the second "Brass from Gumption" open day at the Huddersfield Media Centre on 17 Feb 2006 from 14:00 to 16:00. There will be a get together in the Circle Room at 14:00 where light refreshments will be provided, up to 4 free sessions with Chris Hemingway of patent agents Bailey Walsh LLP and up to 6 free patent, trade mark or registered design search slots with Leeds PatLIB librarian Ged Doonan which would normally cost over £40. Those slots are likely to go quickly so if you want to save yourself ome money, call Ged or Stef on 0113 2478266 or email Huddersfield Inventors soon like yesterday.

In addition to Brass from Gumption, chambers will continue to do the free IP workshops through the Business Generator between 11:00 and 13:00 on the last Friday of the month (call Call Jacquie Asquith on (01484) 483080 to book) and we will give Inventor members a 20% discount off our published rates for legal advice and drafting who come to us under the public access rules. Other discounts will be the clinics and searches offered by Leeds PatLib library in Huddersfield from time to time starting with Brass from Gumption on 17 Feb 2006.