Innovation and enterprise blog

7 posts from June 2013

28 June 2013

Follow the footballers and protect your brand

One of the things that we stress at the Business & IP Centre is the importance of protecting your idea and brand with intellectual property so it was interesting to see the recent news that Tottenham Hotspur footballer (for the moment!), Gareth Bale has filed a trade mark application.

Trade marks are badges of origin. They distinguish the goods or services of one trader from another and can take many forms; for example words, slogans, logos, shapes, colours and sounds.

Gareth Bale’s applications cover The ‘Eleven of Hearts’ image and logo, which refer to Bale’s goal celebration and his current shirt number.


'Eleven of Hearts' trade mark application

Trade marks are registered for specific goods or services within individual subjects, known as classes.  The official application made by Gareth Bale, which can be found on the Intellectual Property Office website, covers a number of different classes and will be applied to products including jewellery, leather goods, umbrellas, parasols and clothing footwear and headgear.   

Figures of up to £10 million in earnings and endorsements have been mentioned in various reports and the trade mark is widely thought to be the first step in building a global Bale brand particularly ahead of his rumoured move to Real Madrid.

Other footballers who have also applied for trade marks include David Beckham who has applied as an individual but also under Beckham Brand and is estimated to be making up to £26 million.

Cristiano Ronaldo also holds trade marks for CR9 in classes covering a number of different things including services for providing food and drink, hotel accommodation, goods made from paper and cardboard and clothing, footwear and headgear.

Interestingly, CR9 is also registered under classes for games and playthings, decorations for Christmas trees and education. Perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo is already planning his future after football!

 The benefit of registering your trade mark is that it prevents anyone else from using it and making money from it. So watch out for Eleven of Hearts clothing coming to a shop near you!

Find out more about how you can protect your brand with our guides and workshops.

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of Business & IP Centre

27 June 2013

Checking your trade mark abroad

When I work in the Business & IP Centre, one of the things that previously used to make my heart sink a little was a request to check whether a brand name was registered as a trade mark anywhere else in the world.

With patents, the Espacenet international database has been available free online for over a decade. But for trade marks, until the last year or so, it was necessary to find the patent office website of every single country you were interested in and check their trade mark database, which sometimes wasn’t available in English or had very limited search options.

Now, however, there are two free databases which anybody who might want to register their trade mark overseas should be aware of.

TMViewThe first is TMView, which is run by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Union organisation that administers the EU Community Trade Mark system, which can give you a trade mark valid in the whole EU. TMView allows you to search for not just Community Trade Marks but marks registered in all of the individual countries of the EU, except for Croatia, Cyprus and Greece.

One minor limitation is that the list of the goods and services that the mark covers will be in the language of the country involved, but there is an automatic translation system to help turn it into English. Because of this, if you want to look for a mark covering specific goods you need to use the Nice Class. This is a standard list of code numbers to indicate the goods and services, and the site will help you find the right one.

The second is the Global Brand Database, run by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. At Global Brand database the moment this covers marks registered in the USA, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Estonia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. It also covers all marks anywhere in the world that have passed through WIPO’s Madrid Agreement scheme, which makes it easier for marks already registered in one country to be registered in others. While the list of countries is currently quite short, it includes some commercially important countries outside the EU.

Again, unfortunately, the list of goods and services covered by a mark is only available in the original language and this time there is no automatic translation (although you can always cut and paste the text into a translation website). Although you can search for goods and services by typing a word in, it will not be translated, and if you are searching for marks in non-English-speaking countries it is better to use the Nice Class.

I do have to add a further word of warning if you want to register your trade mark abroad. In most countries, you only have the right to a mark if you are actually doing business in that country, even if nobody is using the mark there.

Sometimes people come to the Centre and ask us for advice about foreign trade mark registrations before they have done anything to start their business at all. In most countries, if you register your mark but don’t start actively promoting your business and/or trading in that country within a certain period of time, which varies from country to country (five years in the UK, for instance), you can be taken to court by someone else who wants to use a similar mark.

If you can’t prove that you are doing business in the country involved, you may well have your mark wholly or partly cancelled and you may also end up having to pay compensation or even being fined. This is designed to stop people applying for marks that they think their competitors might want to use out of spite or a desire to obstruct their business.

But it also means that if you register in a country that you don’t actually have much chance of expanding into, worse things can happen than just wasting the money you spent on the application.

You can find out more about trade marks on the Business & IP Centre website or come along to one of our workshops.

Philip Eagle on behalf of Business & IP Centre

24 June 2013

Review of Start-Up Saturday

I am a business information and IP specialist and the newest member of the team. As well as working on the enquiry desk in the Reading Room, I am getting up to speed with other parts of my job which includes giving one-to-one Business Information and IP Clinics for startup businesses. As part of my training, I attended the Start-Up Saturday workshop on Saturday 18 May, delivered by Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation.

Start up saturdayHere we all are - Photo by Emma Jones

The workshop began with an hour of introductions which created a real buzz. Emma chatted to all 30 participants and didn't let anyone hide away at the back. She managed to make a general point, a suggestion, give a contact or some words of encouragement to each person. Where appropriate, others joined in with ideas. With many of the participants she continued to use them as examples throughout the workshop -  a great way for all of us to learn what to do and what not to do when starting out.

It quickly became apparent how diverse the participants were: everything from someone who was actually knitting and making her products (pigs! at Piggyknits) in the workshop to designs inspired from manhole covers at mamimu-tokyo and pregnancy wear for active mums at Fitamamma! Others were at the pre-startup stage, some had been made redundant -  an opportunity to make a career change and some were there for inspiration, knowing they wanted to start a business but not yet quite sure in what area.

Emma taught by showing examples of websites, which made it very visual. This was backed up with a comprehensive book: The Start-Up Kit 2013, included with the workshop. There was definitely an emphasis on starting a business at home while still working –the ‘5 to 9’ business which Emma has previously written about in another book. Some of the very practical points that were covered were ‘Niche is good’, what to put in a business plan, the importance of research especially market research, the must –dos (i.e. the legal bits) and building a home on the web.

871345-copyEN-150x150Photo by Enterprise Nation

Emma gave some powerful examples and told in stories rather than just plain facts which made it easier to understand. I have a particular interest in helping dyslexic entrepreneurs as I am dyslexic myself, and this was a very accessible workshop.

Attending as a member of staff gave me an opportunity to say more about our resources which are accessible for free at the Business & IP Centre, especially about the market research databases such as Mintel, Keynote and eMarketer. A few people spoke to me with specific research questions as well as contacting me on Twitter afterwards. I was happy to help.

I thought attending this workshop would give me an overview of how to start a business, and in that it succeeded. Overall: an extremely high-energy and inspiring workshop that was both practical and fun!

20 June 2013

Recipe for Success: the secret ingredients for business growth

Last night, I attended the Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Recipe for Success event here at the British Library, which was also beamed live to Manchester and New York.

James averdieck1Our first expert speaker was James Averdieck of who entertained us with the story of how he came to set up his company.

Describing defining moments such as sitting in a café in Brussels with a bombe d’chocolat he took us through meeting his business partner and working on branding to his rather unique method of doing primary market research.

He described taking empty Gü boxes into Waitrose and surreptitiously putting them onto the shelf. Waiting until someone attempted to walk away with the ‘product’ he then decided that ‘yep’ the product would sell and a couple of days later had a meeting with a number of major supermarket representatives.

With the success of the product the company grew and eventually James was made an offer for the company he could not refuse. James likened his decision to sell Gü to a funeral, but it freed up his time to work on his new passion – coconut!

Second was Harriet Hastings founder of Biscuiteers, whose slogan “Why sendBISCUITEERS_013 flowers when you can send biscuits?” is an appealing one. Harriet told the story of how, modelling her business on the floral delivery concept, she offered seasonal biscuits and same day delivery.

What made Harriet’s story interesting was how, as the business grew, she has resisted temptation to move away from the handmade artisan products the company offers. Instead she has taken the company in a slightly different direction opening a biscuit boutique and icing café offering lessons in icing, corporate and private icing parties as well as holding special lessons for children or the Little Biscuiteers as Harriet called them.

It was apparent from the way she spoke that the company prides itself on offering unique top end products.

Her tips for the audience?

  • Follow trends to keep your product topical and in the news
  • Always remember it is all about the customer experience and building your brand 
  • Finally, your business should be as much about design and business skills as it is about cooking.

Camilla web imageCamilla Stephens of Higgidy came next. Her business dream was to create ‘feminine pies that were not made by butchers’.

After three years of business, with their pies growing in popularity, Camilla found that though the company had a lot of sales they were not making any profit and in fact in 2005 the company was actually making a loss. Camilla and her husband James had to decide whether to invest more money into the business to turn it around or to give up. They decided to invest and she and her husband sold their home to put money in their factory and brand.

Higgidy now makes around 200,000 pies and quiches etc. a week using, we were told, 16,000 tons of pastry! Camilla feels that mechanising hasn't changed the artisan nature of the pies as Higgidy still offers customers a good traditional product.

Camilla’s tip was that entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to ask for advice especially since people like giving it!

All three speakers put emphasis on the value of the brand, good market research and staying customer focused.

The final speaker of the evening was serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson. Originally training to be a Luke Johnson web doctor he decided he was much more interested in nightclubs and so his career in business began. He has, over the years, been involved with many successful businesses, Strada, Pizza Express, Giraffe, Patisserie Valerie.

Luke’s talk was an entertaining mix of anecdotes and advice but he too underlined the value of the brand reminding the audience that ‘brand power matters’. He also advised would be entrepreneurs to try and be ‘niche not mass’.

The Q&A session at the end gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions with lots coming in via Twitter.

The key answers?

  • Remember to consider the competition 
  • Small businesses should act like big businesses and be credible 
  • Before you decide to grow, make sure you know the costs or get someone to do the manufacturing for you 
  • Small companies should remember to act like big suppliers – reliable and professional.

An entertaining event with lots of advice and tips to take away. The archive webcast and videos will be available on our YouTube channel soon.

Maria Lampert on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Cooking up Success for Food in London

‘Cooking up Success’ is the series of food business related events at the Business & IP Centre for Spring and Summer. One of these events that we recently held was a speed mentoring session with expert foodies like Petra Barran of Kerb, Jo Densley of Relish Marketing and Kerrie Dorman of UK Affordable Mentors. The professional experts and their fields were Mirtha Medina (HR), Matt Harley (Design & Strategy) and Paul Harrison (Patent Attorney) - latter are both of Ideas 21

The speed mentoring format was similar to a ‘Knowledge Café’ or speed dating (not my words!) which was interesting to facilitate, experience and observe. Delegates introduced themselves and their food business interests with energy, open discussion and happily filled in the gaps with each other in 30 minutes! It was beautiful to see start-ups sharing insights, thoughts and contacts in the industry with each other. 

Niche food businesses were discussed, such as vegan burgers, breads and patisserie. The UK market is still behind the USA, where 7 million people or 3 % of the adult *population is vegan, health-conscious consumers. The businesses all were passionate about food, and thought that there were customers out there who would put their money into 'healthy options' if they were easy to find, reasonably priced and most important of all... tasty. 

I had an in-depth conversation with Gluten Freak, a business was born out of health concerns and the scarcity of gluten-free foods on the market. They stressed that being a small business allowed them to avoid cross-contamination, but as they grow they would need to continue to be as consistent with larger production batches. The co-founder of Incredible Bakery Bread was willing and eager to share experiences and knowledge with other start-ups, such as a UK-wide refrigerator delivery company, and food incubators, such as Greenwich Cooperatives and We are Kitchenette.

Little Brew

Kerb’s founder Petra delivered some great mentoring to Little Brew, a home brewer from Camden’s Lord Alephant, who uses local produce and British hops. One question on capacity for large orders brought an impassioned response that small allows Little Brew to focus on full flavour and that they can offer customised bottles for example for weddings and corporate events. Petra also offered copious advice to a chilli oil maker and Chinese cook whose passion was to start her own food business, being from a family that has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years. KerbIdeas including gaining all the necessary accreditation for Food Hygiene and Public Liability Insurance for pop-up restaurants and street food traders like Kerb. By the way, this type of accreditation information for various industries is contained in Cobra reports, which are available in the Business & IP Centre. Petra demonstrated and mentioned that Kerb is flowing with enthusiasm and support to start-ups who benefit from the exposure to the Kerb brand, access to private and corporate clients, loyal customers and a large Twitter following. The session concluded with encouragement, for even Kerb lacked an authentic Chinese food outlet and Petra ended with it’s “exciting times for Food in London!”

19 June 2013

Soul Trader the workshop with Rasheed Ogunlaru

Soul_trader_coverBack in October last year I reviewed Rasheed Ogunlaru's book Soul Trader - Putting the heart back into your business.

He has now developed these ideas into a workshop held in the Business & IP Centre, sensibly called Soul trader: Your life, your business.

Rasheed kindly invited me along to see how it can help you build a business in balance with your life, and in tune with your heart.

In the workshop we covered his eight 'C's for succesful business:

1. Clarity:
Identify your mission, talent, values and brand to develop a clear strategy to propel your business growth.

2. Customers:
Look at your business through customers’ eyes to win custom, profit and loyalty.

3. Courage:
Gain inspiration to give you the same determination as a winning athlete.

4. Co-operation:
Building your network so you can create beneficial collaborations and partnerships.

5. Conversations:
Learn how to connect, create and convert leads to sales in person and online.

6. Creativity:
Know when to work, rest and be at your best so you can achieve a life balance.

7. Compassion:
Connect from the heart to be transformational not transactional.

Once again Rasheed used his unique combination of the heart and head to help the workshop attendees develop a vision of their business and life, as well as the practical steps they would need to take to acheive them.

I highly recommend this workshop for anyone about to embark on a business venture, or for those who are established but have lost sight of their business purpose.


17 June 2013

Welcome to our new Innovation and Enterprise blog

This blog will cover the essentials of starting and growing your business with stories from people who have already been there and can share their experiences. We will be talking about their successes and learning from mistakes made along the way.

One of the great things about the Business & IP Centre is getting the chance to meet the businesses who have started up or grown here. We’ve helped with colour-changing umbrellas, ethical beauty products, social commerce websites and a new type of barbecue to name just a few! Please share your story with us or be inspired by our success stories to start your own business journey.

Our Centre team and partners will also be giving you advice and information on innovation and enterprise. We’ll have lots of tips on how you can make the most of the vast range of information we have here in the British Library, and to help you get the practical skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur.

We hope you enjoy reading our blog.

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre team