THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

Introduction

This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

10 December 2018

Contemporary twists on traditional festive gifts

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas so we decided to catch up with some of our Innovating for Growth alumni whose businesses become even busier over the festive period to get their take on seasonal trends, consumer behaviour and to see what they are offering this year... 

Mellissa Morgan, co-founder and Company Director of Ms. Cupcake in Brixton, has found that traditional flavours remain popular, but are wanted in contemporary and innovate ways, "Big successes this year have been our Stollen Muffin, which is a light and fluffy take on the traditional German treat. Our Mince Pie Squares have been a big hit with our B2B clients, flying off the shelves of their establishments”. 

Ms. Cupcake Grinch Cupcake
It’s also a great time of year to be playful, as Mellissa has seen with their ‘Grinch’ Chocolate Mint cupcakes. 

That’s not the only change in consumer habits Mellissa has noticed. Consumers’ lifestyle choices have also impacted on Ms. Cupcake, “Veganism has been on the rise over the last two years and retailers both big and small are taking note! When we opened the UK’s first vegan bakery back in 2011, we were a novelty. Now that vegan foods have become a firm fixture on the high street, we are in great company!. 

From food to feet... ChattyFeet, co-founded by Gil Kahana, is a brand of quirky, pun-filled, character socks, Gil says, “Here at ChattyFeet, we're very excited about Christmas. We love the Christmas lights, mulled wine and spending time with people we care about. The festive season can get pretty intense so we're also looking forward to chill out in January”. 

Their sock characters, however are causing mischief... Yayoi Toesame insists that ChattyFeet’s Christmas tree will have only circular shapes! Can you imagine? Is it a bit dotty or perhaps she's right? 

ChattyFeet1

Ernestoe Hemingway is doing OK apart from his constant demands. He wants ChattyFeet to let people know that he doesn't want any more books for Christmas (on social media)... Apparently he has enough books to read until 2020! 

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And lastly, a bit of an embarrassing one... If you bought Mr. Grrrril socks between 2017-2018, ChattyFeet need to warn you about a possible issue... Some customers sent us evidence of Mr. Grrrril opening up the presents early. 

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It sounds like ChattyFeet have a demanding bunch on their hands feet, but they aren't the only ones with a sense of humour. Rosie Tate, designer of cards and gifts at family-run business, Cath Tate Cards has a range of traditional and humorous Christmas cards. With the rise of digital communications, we asked Rosie if the trend of sending Christmas cards was in decline, “The rise and rise of the internet, email, text and social media might make you think traditional paper greeting card sending was dead, however this is not the case. In 2017 100 million single Christmas greeting cards were bought and in addition, an estimated 900m Christmas cards were sold in boxes and packs”. 

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Rosie add, “Every person in the UK sends on average 33 greeting cards a year. A text or an email is just not going to cut the mustard for Aunty Brenda at Christmas! A paper card is an obviously more thoughtful gesture. 

Which gets us thinking, we should probably make a start on writing ours... 

If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of these entrepreneurs and believe your business has what it takes, is based in London and has a turnover of £100,000 or more, why not apply for Innovating for Growth: Scale-up and take your business to the next level? Register your interest for our next intake today.

23 November 2018

IP Corner: Registered designs and knitting

When people think of intellectual property what most often springs to mind is patents, closely followed by trade marks. There are other forms of IP though and I came upon a good example of one when looking at gadgets to do with my favourite pastime – knitting.

This is the Wool Jeanie a nifty little device that holds the ball of wool/yarn whilst you are knitting releasing the wool evenly as you knit. The yarn holder is suspended from the frame using magnets and when not in use it can be disengaged from the frame and rested on the platform below.

Knitting

The Wool Jeanie is a UK registered design registered with the IPO UK and given design registration number RD6011452. The full design record can be viewed via the DesignView database upon entering the registered design number in the search box.

If you are not sure how to use the database, or if you are just interested, you can download our free IP guide A brief introduction to registered designs and registered design searching.

Registered designs protect the outward look of a product particularly the lines, contours, shape or texture, but they can also protect the material or ornamentation of the product. You cannot protect the way the design works, only the way it looks. To protect its functionality you would need to apply for a patent. For a design to be protectable it must be new and it must be unique.

A UK registered design gives the rights holder the exclusive right in the United Kingdom to make, use, sell, import and export any product embodying the design, if it is a shape, or bearing the design if it is ornamentation.

Registered designs can apply to a wide variety of products from packaging to furnishings, from clothing to jewellery and from household goods to textiles. However, registered designs do not last forever. Registered designs last a maximum of 25 years and are renewable every five years to the 25 year maximum. At the end of the 25 years, or if the renewal fees aren’t paid, the registered design falls into the public domain and is there for anyone to use.

So why should a business protect its designs?

By registering your designs you:

  • contribute to obtaining a return on investments made by you or your company into creating and marketing your products.
  • obtain exclusive right to the registered design allowing you to prevent or, if necessary, stop others from exploiting or copying your design without your written permission.
  • have the opportunity to sell or license the rights to the design to another enterprise for a fee.
  • strengthen your brand.

It is worth remembering that a vast majority of businesses today are web-based and the IP registrations the company holds, or the licenses it has to use others' IP, are assets of the business which can help increase the market value of a company and its products.

Within the UK unregistered ‘Design right’ also exists and automatically protects a design for a maximum of 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first sold or for 15 years after it was created whichever is the earlier. However, design right only applies to the shape and configuration of an object.

When deciding whether or not to register your designs it is worth speaking with an intellectual property attorney. Most will offer free 30 minute one-to-one advice sessions and you can find one in your local area via their website.

So what about my Wool Jeanie? Well, it has proved to be one of the best gadgets I have bought it my many years of knitting and crocheting and I am busy spreading the word about it to all my handicraft friends and acquaintances.

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert at the Business & IP Centre London

Maria has worked in the field of intellectual property since she joined the British Library in January 1993. She is currently the British Library Business & IP Centre’s Intellectual Property Expert, where she delivers 1-2-1 business and IP advice clinics, as well as intellectual property workshops and webinars on regular basis.

To see all upcoming workshops, webinars and events, visit our website.

14 November 2018

Anne-Marie Imafidon is changing the future by engaging young girls with technology


  

 As with most businesses, our Business & IP ambassador Anne-Marie Imafidon also had her light-bulb moment: a keynote lecture at a conference for women in technology, and the realisation that the number of women in the industry had been steadily declining for the last three decades. This resonated with her own experience of being one of just 3 girls in a class of 70 studying Maths and Computer Science at university. 

A child prodigy herself, Anne-Marie holds the current world record for the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing aged 11, and is one of the youngest people to be awarded a Master's Degree in Mathematics by University of Oxford aged 20. So who better to reverse the trend than someone who has been inspired by maths and science, and went on to pursue a career in STEM?

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Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is an inspirational figure within maths, technology and business.


Less than a year after that momentous keynote lecture, STEMettes was born: a social enterprise that motivates young girls to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The award-winning enterprise has since empowered over 40,000 girls to realise their potential, changing the future of technology one STEMette at a time in a landscape currently dominated by an overwhelmingly male workforce.
  
But not all went according to plan when Anne-Marie was setting it up, and her initial vision of what STEMettes should be changed in a number of ways. 

“There were several key aspects of what we do today that we were not going to pursue to begin with. One of them was working with schools, something we did not think would be part of our offer: and now we have a schools programme hosting trips into partner companies, we also support schools by running panels, sessions on site and more. Another one is mentoring, an important part of STEMettes today with a more-than-mentoring programme connecting young women with inspirational industry examples to guide their first steps. What was there from the beginning and has remained at the core of what we do is creating a free, fun and food-filled experience to inspire and support the next generation of girls into STEM while making them feel like they're part of something special... and cool."

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"Diversity is important in any industry - and STEM especially. Diversity of thought leads to innovation.", Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemmete. Photo: Robert Ormerod for The New York Times.

Anne-Marie is vocal about the importance of diversity, not just for its own sake, but diversity of thought as a necessary part of innovation: only by introducing the female perspective in industries that are severely lacking one can we create a genuinely equal future.

"We're a small, but passionate team doing what we can to help. We can't have women leaders if they're not joining the industry in the first place."

While working with girls from an early age is important, and a desire to pursue a career in STEM is a great first step, Anne-Marie says it is also crucial to have support at a post-education stage to facilitate real progress. Business is another area were there are plenty of barriers. 

"The Business and IP Centre, with hubs throughout the UK is a wonderful example of how free resources, accessible expert help and a programme of workshops and events in an inclusive, welcoming environment can make a tremendous difference in supporting entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. The fact that over half of the Business & IP Centre supports are women proves that demand is certainly there."

 

Ewa Domaradzka, Commercial Marketing Manager