26 April 2020
The world is waiting for a breakthrough. Global attention is on the discovery and manufacture of an effective vaccine against Covid-19. Today is also World Intellectual Property day, so right now, all intellectual property (IP) related to treatments and vaccines is of intense interest.
And this is where it gets interesting and complicated.
There are some big questions about what existing and emerging IP can be deployed to create a vaccine to help solve the Covid-19 crisis and how that is done within the existing laws protecting IP.
Though one thing about finding a solution is clear, there is no single government or company that has all the know-how or answers. Some form of working collaboration between government, research institutions and private industry will be required. And this may even need to be international.
So agreements around IP rights will be key to how a vaccine is developed.
Out of all the five forms of Intellectual Property (patents, trademarks, design right, copyright, trade secrets) recognised around the world, developments in patents and trade secrets are taking centre stage.
So why patents?
A patent is granted by a government authority (we’ll see why this is important) to an inventor giving them the right for a limited time (usually 20 years) to prevent others from making, using or selling the invention. Patents must meet two important criteria; it must be an innovative step on what has gone before and not disclosed.
Many vaccines are made up of multiple patents because a vaccine itself is a biological preparation containing differing ingredients. How those different ingredients are composed is the innovation and therefore where the patents sit.
As a form of intellectual property, patents can be sold or licensed to others to the benefit of the owner. Patent rights can also be waived if the inventor so chooses.
Could these rights then be waived in the interests of speedily creating a vaccine? And would companies do this voluntarily? The big issue for them is the cost incurred in developing those patents licenced for use in a vaccine and this may prove to be too great a disincentive.
Governments may also look at their options.
Governments and IP
One extreme scenario are compulsory licences. Because patents are a state granted right, governments under exceptional circumstances can, if they choose, assert rights over ownership and manufacture to third parties.
In fact a number of countries are actively pursuing this route. Among them Germany, Canada, Chile and Israel. Other provisions are covered under UK law for the use of patented inventions for services to the Crown. The question is whether this provision will need to be called upon.
And what company would even want to be named as having their IP requisitioned?
It would also be assumed that such exceptional intervention would involve some compensation to patent holders.
So might companies and research institutions voluntarily share information?
This is where another form of IP is crucial in the hunt for a vaccine against Covid-19; trade secrets. This IP is as simple as it sounds. Companies in the course of their activities may acquire know-how that gives them a competitive advantage. This know-how is so important that knowledge of it is protected and bound by confidentiality to those working with it.
Companies and research institutions working in drug and vaccine discovery work with multiple forms of trade secrets.
Patents alone won’t resolve the challenge of creating a vaccine, there need to be trade secrets such as gene sequencing, manufacturing methodology and a whole host of other forms of data required in vaccine development that may even include business modeling and pricing.
Therefore companies and institutions will have knowledge that will need to be voluntarily revealed in any form of collaboration and I'd expect under specific conditions of agreement.
And some are moving in this direction.
Collaboration is Key
Recent discussion of creating a patent pool of shared patents to help in the fight against Covid-19 has gained some traction. The Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada has initiated the call for a medicines patent pool available for free or licensed on reasonable terms, as well as the sharing of other data. This has been endorsed by the WHO.
So much is happening in the fight against Covid-19 that a complete list of current collaborations across the world has been produced and can be found on the Milken Institute who are compiling all the current treatments and vaccines in the pipeline.
Another organisation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) is an ‘innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic and civil society organisations’. This overseeing body is co-ordinating funding and deploying it. CEPI has helped fund the recent Oxford University vaccine.
They are also collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline who own the patent to an important adjuvant to enhance the effectiveness of any vaccine.
CEPI is an example of how public, individual, research institutions and the private sector are coalescing and co-ordinating their responses to Covid-19. The fruits of this provide some cause for optimism for finding a workable vaccination that benefits all contributors.It’s an indication of where we may be heading in terms of how IP is shared in such unusual times.
‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ couldn’t be truer in our urgent need to find a vaccine against Covid-19. And the way will require a significant collaboration of IP, public and private interest. Something the world will hope for more of this World IP Day.
Jeremy O’Hare is an Information Expert in Intellectual Property at the British Library.
21 April 2020
With National Tea Day taking place on the 21 April, we caught up with Innovating for Growth: Mentoring alumna, Tina Chen, about her business HumaniTea, a tea beverage social enterprise that supports wellbeing and sustainability initiatives.
As a Taiwanese-American living in London, Tina was inspired by Taiwanese bubble tea and British tea drinking culture and decided to create the UK’s first plant-based tea lattes. Prior to launching HumaniTea, Tina worked as a Technology Consultant, performing project management activities for large-scale software implementations. After consulting for three years, she began her MBA journey at Imperial College Business School, where she honed in on innovation, social impact, and sustainability modules. Tina shares, “With my love for a quality cuppa and my desire to make a positive impact on society, I made a career switch from IT to just tea and incorporated HumaniTea in December 2018.”
Tina used the British Library’s Business & IP Centre (BIPC) to search for consumer research reports on the tea market, including Mintel and Euromonitor, which are available for free to Business & IP Centre users. “The market research reports provided me with valuable information about market size that would have taken me months and large amounts of money to gather if I only conducted primary research. Through secondary research, I learned about market trends for ready-to-drink tea, plant-based milks, and low-sugar soft drinks.”
In the UK, the soft drink sector is booming with sales valued at £15 billion. The flavoured milk drink and milk alternative sales are valued at £538 million, ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee sales are valued at £146 million, and RTD tea sales are valued at £23 million. Tina explains, “Consumers desire organic RTD tea with low sugar or health benefits. There is an expected increase in the range of RTD tea, like matcha and kombucha, as consumers search for heathier alternatives to RTD coffee and energy drinks. In fact, 1/3 of UK adults think cold tea is a good alternative to other soft drinks.”
As well as the health benefits (all her flavours Matcha, Earl Grey, and Rooibos, contain low sugar and calories, exclude preservatives, artificial flavours, or any additives), ethical sourcing and sustainability are at the heart of HumaniTea. Their teas come in paper bags from Fairtrade, organic farms, oat milk is used instead of dairy as oat milk is one of the most eco-friendly milks available and making one cup of tea requires less water usage and releases less CO2 emissions than making one cup of coffee.
Besides performing market research, Tina also attended several events at the BIPC, including the monthly Inventors’ Club special food edition. “During these events, I exchanged networks with fellow entrepreneurs and gained knowledge on intellectual property, especially trade mark protection.”
However, registering her intellectual property hasn’t been a straightforward process. Four months after filing for four trade marks in December 2018, Tina received a cease and desist letter from the soft drink producer Schweppes. Now in a cooling off period until late 2020, Tina has gone on to file for a fifth trade mark and has successfully crowdfunded over £10,000 through the NatWest x Crowdfunder Back Her Business Programme. This will allow Tina to scale-up manufacturing and pursue a rebrand with the newly filed trade mark, HumaniTea. “Showing humanity is displaying compassion and kindness towards others, so as a social enterprise, we felt the name HumaniTea really embodied our business selling tea lattes to make a positive impact on society and the environment.”
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, HumaniTea lattes were available at Imperial College London and farmers’ markets, like Borough Market. “As we possessed an offline presence, new social distancing rules meant that we could no longer trade at our main points of sale. We are using this time wisely to develop our brand image with a professional designer and prepare for production with a contract manufacturing partner as we scale-up from commercial kitchen production.”
Tina continues to engage with consumers via the brand’s social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). “In unprecedented times with unknown outcomes, I’m doing my best as Chief Tea Officer to form contingency plans and remain both realistic and optimistic at the same time. In 2020, we plan on manufacturing our vegan tea lattes in a factory and delivering all the pre-orders of our tea lattes and HumaniTea merchandise that we received through our crowdfunding campaign. We will continue our discussions with retailers and distributors and hope to bring our tea lattes to supermarkets, universities, office canteens, and online environments in the near future!”
Tina has also participated in the BIPC’s Innovating for Growth Mentoring Programme. “I was matched with a fantastic mentor Sam Duong, the CEO of Ming Foods, who helps guide and motivate me through his 16 years of experience in the food manufacturing industry. Through our mentoring relationship, I have gained so much knowledge on manufacturing, contracts, supply chain, sales, margins, cash flow models, and team management. Discussing with my mentor my company goals and desires for scaling-up my start-up, I feel confident about my business decisions with strong foundations in place. Sam challenges me to think beyond the present and prepare for the future, allowing me to grow and develop my entrepreneurial skills and focus on my goals. At one of our mentoring meetings, I visited Ming Foods state-of-the-art factory, where they produce duck pancakes and bao buns that are sold both domestically and internationally. I am inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of Sam and the success of Ming Foods and have truly benefited from the Innovating for Growth Mentoring Programme. I aim to also grow HumaniTea and achieve UK-wide and international sales and bring the drink that’s good for humanity to our global community!”
To find out more about the Innovating for Growth: Mentoring Programme, visit our website. You can also book on to our free IP and business virtual one-to-ones with the BIPC reference team. Book your slot here.
02 March 2020
We asked Briffa, a boutique IP law firm based at the Business Design Centre in Islington, who are specialist IP lawyers and Business & IP Centre delivery partners, to unravel the confusion and complexities around IP…
IP is like spaghetti. A big tangled mess. We frequently hear people say things like “I want to trade mark my idea!” (you can’t) or “how do I patent my business model?” (you can’t) or “I paid you to design something, so surely I own the copyright!?” (not necessarily). It’s only when we untangle the spaghetti and get to grips with the individual rights that sit underneath that umbrella term that we can hope to discover how intellectual property can be used to protect the fruits of our creative labour. So here are a few basics to get started:
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual Property, or IP, is an umbrella term we use to describe a collection of rights which, broadly speaking, allow people to control the use of their creations. The common thread that runs through all IP rights is that their value derives, in part at least, from the ability of the IP owner to exercise monopoly control over what they have created. Or, to put it another way, to stop someone else from using their stuff.
What are the main IP rights?
The four main statutory IP rights are:
- Copyright - which allows the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other creative works to prevent third parties from copying or otherwise using their works without authorisation
- Trade marks - which allow the owners of brand assets such as names, logos, slogans and jingles to prevent competitors from using those brand assets without authorisation
- Design rights - which allow product designers to prevent others from using their designs without authorisation
- Patents - which allow inventors to prevent others from using their inventions without authorisation.
How do I get these IP rights?
There are two main categories of IP rights, registrable and unregistrable. As the name suggests, registrable IP rights are rights that require registration in order to secure protection. Conversely, registration is neither necessary nor possible in the case of unregistrable rights. Instead, those rights simply arise automatically.
What are the registrable rights?
The main registrable rights are:
- Trade marks
- Registered designs.
In the case of these three rights, protection normally starts from the date the application is filed (not the date the registration process is completed, which in the case of trade marks might be a number of months after the application is filed and in the case of patents might be a number of years after the application is filed). Patent protection normally lasts for 20 years and renewal payments must normally be made annually to maintain the patent.
Trade mark protection lasts forever provided that renewal payments are made every 10 years.
Registered design rights last for a maximum of 25 years and renewal payments must be made every five years.
What are the unregistrable rights?
The main two unregistrable rights are copyright and design rights. In the case of UK unregistered rights (copyright and UK unregistered design rights) protection arises automatically from the moment of creation, usually in favour of the creator. Copyright usually lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator of the work (though the term of protection is shorter for some categories of work). UK unregistered design rights last for 15 years from the date the design is created or 10 years from the date the design is first made public, whichever occurs first. EU unregistered designs rights last for 3 years from the date the design is first made public in the EU.
Copyright protection ‘usually’ arises in favour of the creator? Huh?
Yes, the default position under English copyright law is that the creator of a work is the first and automatic owner of the copyright in that work. However, there is a major statutory exception to that rule. If the creator of that work is acting in the course of their employment, then copyright rests automatically with the employer and not the employee. In many cases, an employment contract will contain an IP clause confirming that the employer and not the employee will own any IP created or developed by the employee in the course of their employment.
But surely if I pay someone to design my logo I own the copyright, no?
Not necessarily. As above, the default position is that the creator of a work owns the copyright in that work unless they are an employee acting in the course of their employment. So if you pay a freelance artist to design a logo, no, you will not necessarily own the copyright in the logo (even if you have paid them). Depending on the circumstances, you may have an implied right (licence) to use the copyright but an implied licence is not the same as full ownership and if you want to secure full ownership of the copyright in your logo you must have a written copyright assignment signed by the artist.
What about ideas generally? How are those protected?
IP rights generally do not protect ideas. They protect the expression of ideas. For example:
- Copyright protects artistic works (i.e. the physical expression or manifestation of an idea such as a photograph of a bridge taken at sunset), but it does not protect the idea or concept behind the artistic work (i.e. the idea of taking a photograph of a bridge at sunset)
- Design rights protect the appearance of products (i.e. the shape and surface decoration on a piece of furniture), but they do not protect the idea or concept behind the appearance of the product (e.g. a rustic style or a modern style of furniture)
- Patents protect inventive products and processes (i.e. a new technical invention for automatically locking a car using a sensor), but they do not protect the idea or concept behind the invention (e.g. the idea of having cars lock automatically upon a sensor going out of range of a vehicle)
- Trade marks protect specific brand identifiers (i.e. a particular word, logo, strapline, colour or shape that customers use to identify the brand), but they do not protect the idea or concept behind the brand identifier (a particular style adopted by a range of brand identifiers).
So there is no way to protect an idea or concept?
The best way to protect an idea or a concept is to keep it confidential and control its disclosure by ensuring that anyone you share the idea or concept with signs a non-disclosure agreement (or NDA) which contractually precludes them from sharing the information publicly or taking the information and using it for their own purpose. A famous example of information which has retained its value by virtue of its confidentiality is the recipe for Coca-Cola. Its value does not derive from the fact that that the recipe is patented, or from any other registration. Its value derives from the fact that it is a very closely guarded trade secret.
What about ‘taking inspiration’ from someone else’s work? Does that infringe their IP?
Big question, short answer. It depends. All IP rights have different legal test for what constitutes infringement and these different legal tests therefore determine the scope of protection afforded to the IP owner. So let’s take a look at two examples: infringement of copyright and infringement of registered design rights.
Infringement of copyright
The test for infringement under English law is whether or not the alleged infringer has copied the ‘whole or a substantial part’ of the original copyright work. If the whole or a substantial part of the actual original work has been copied (e.g. the specific artistic pattern) then there is a likely a case to be made for copyright infringement. If the whole or a substantial part of the original work has not been taken (e.g. the specific pattern has not been copied but only the concept/idea/style of the pattern has been taken) then it is less likely that there is a case to be made for copyright infringement.
Infringement of registered design rights
The test for infringement under English law is whether or not the alleged infringer has created a product which creates ‘the same overall impression’ as the earlier registered design. If it does (e.g. the two pieces of furniture create the same overall impression from the perspective of an informed user e.g. a furniture enthusiast) then there is likely a case to be made for design infringement. If it does not (e.g. the two pieces of furniture are somewhat similar but they do not create the same overall impression such that an informed user e.g. a furniture enthusiast would very easily tell them apart) then it is less likely that there is a case to be made for design infringement.
So I might get into trouble by simply taking inspiration from the world around me? Madness!
Well, the first point to bear in mind is that in these situations the specific facts of the case are crucially important.
With copyright, a court would look at the most creative/important bits of the earlier design. If those bits have been copied, the court might find that the infringement claim is made out (even if those most creative/important bits only make up a minority of the overall earlier design i.e. the test for copyright infringement is more qualitative than quantitative).
Similarly, with design infringement, the court would look at the things like any existing designs, which might be very similar to the earlier design. If there are lots of similar designs out there, the scope of protection of the earlier design will be narrower (i.e. limited to the differences between all the other similar designs); whereas if there are not, and therefore the earlier design is quite unusual/novel, the scope of protection will be broader.
In the final analysis, it is better to be inspired by concepts, themes and/or ideas if possible, and to develop a new creative work based on those concepts, themes and/or ideas. If you start by copying an existing creative work and modifying it here and there in an attempt to put distance between the old work and the new work, you run the risk of incorporating into the new design elements from the old design which will quite obviously be the result of copying rather than coincidence.
My head hurts, what now?
IP is not just like spaghetti, it’s a veritable spaghetti monster with issues too complex for Oprah. My advice: take advice. The British Library’s Business & IP Centre offers a wealth of advice and resources to businesses and individuals who are trying to wrap their head around their IP. Take a look at the website to find out more.
13 January 2020
Are you an inventor or innovator? Our delivery partners Bang Creations, an international product design and innovations agency, started running their workshop, Design and protect your product to maximise sales, over six years ago, alongside London IP, a boutique firm of patent and trademark attorneys that specializes in helping clients acquire, maintain and enforce IP rights. The workshop is split in two halves to help you with the intellectual property (IP) of a product and how to ensure that you design a commercially viable, marketable product.
The first half of the programme is led by Bang Creations, who have worked with multi-nationals through to start-ups and inventors for over 20 years. Bang also share their own experience of inventing, manufacturing and selling their own products internationally via Kickstarter and online via sites such as Amazon.
It can be very difficult to work out which question you answer first and how to organise all the activity into an efficient plan.
The first part helps you to formulate a plan, covering:
- How to design your product to maximise its unique selling points
- How to evaluate the method of manufacture and production
- What volumes you should work to
- How to cost the product and calculate your retail pricing strategy
- How to ensure the design works through to the branding and how to get your product into the marketplace
The workshop concludes with how to execute that plan, how to brief a design agency, what to expect for your investment and how and when to prototype.
Once your head is buzzing with the images of your product, how it can be designed to be market ready, and the plans of getting it to market are formulating in your head, you will be wondering “How do I protect this idea?” The second half of the workshop is delivered by London IP, who will run through how to obtain registered forms of Intellectual Property (IP) protection for your product, namely patents and design registrations, as well as guidance on avoiding infringement of existing IP rights and avoiding pitfalls with IP ownership.
London IP’s David Warrilow, a chartered patent and trademark attorney, runs the other half of the workshop. Here David explains why IP is critical to consider before launching a new product…
Avoiding infringement of existing IP rights, protecting a new product, and IP ownership are all crucial matters. The British Library wanted a workshop that can help entrepreneurs and small and start-up businesses who wish to take their idea to market but are confused on what to do next.
- Do you protect your idea, or do you go straight to prototype?
- How do you work out if your idea is any good and worth investing in? Should you even do it?
- How do you engage a product design agency- and if you do, what should you expect?
- How do you plan out a development journey and very importantly what are the costs?
Even if a product is completely new it can still infringe existing IP rights.
Our seminar explains why and how you can avoid infringement issues. It is important to consider infringement issues early on when developing new products to avoid wasting money on the detailed design and tooling for a product that can’t be sold.
At the seminar we give the real-life example of ‘Mr T’, who spent over £200,000 before finding out his product infringed a patent and he had to close his start-up business. Had Mr T come to our seminar that might not have happened.
Many entrepreneurs are not aware that soon as a new product has been non-confidentially disclosed it is impossible to obtain valid patent and design protection in most countries unless applications have already been filed.
At our seminar we provide guidance as to when and where to file both patent and design applications, and run through some useful filing strategies.
We also explain the reality of seeking IP protection in terms of costs and timescales, and reasons why you might wish to consider protection.
For example, did you know that if you have a UK patent granted your business can have its corporation tax (on profits related to the invention) halved?
If you pay someone to build you a house you own the house once the work is done.
Q: If you pay someone to design you a product (or do any other work that generates IP rights) will you own the IP rights to the product?
A: Not necessarily, and the law is counterintuitive this leads to many disputes.
At our seminar we tell you how to keep ownership of the IP rights that are created as a product and its marketing materials are developed.
From having protected the interior design of the new Routemaster bus, registered the names of Zayn Malik, Sister Sledge and footballer Jamie Vardy as trademarks, patented a new fingerprinting technique for the Metropolitan Police, and helped hundreds of small businesses and individuals with their first forays into the world of intellectual property, London IP has extensive experience working with all sizes of clients from all sectors to provide high quality, affordable IP advice.
Case Study – Improvements In Helmets
J Brett realised her product idea after attending one of our workshops and one-to-one sessions at the British Library. Bang Creations invented her idea and London IP patented it, before J Brett took her licensed product to manufacturers to licence it.
Design by Bang Creations Ltd:
UK Patent Pending No. GB1801734.3 by London IP Ltd:
A helmet 1 comprises a recess 2 adapted to house a head of a user and a chinstrap 6, 8 to secure the helmet to the head of a user. The chinstrap 6, 8 is formed of substantially inelastic material and is securable under a user's chin by releasably attaching a first connector 10 to a second connector 11. Each connector 10, 11 is attached to a portion of chinstrap 6, 8 and the portion of each chinstrap is attached to a portion of elastic material 12, 13 such that the portion of chinstrap 6, 8 is extensible under force applied by a user and retractable by contraction of the portion of elastic material. The helmet further comprises a first clamping mechanism 19 and a second clamping mechanism 21 operable by a user to releasably clamp the chinstraps 6, 8 such that a chosen length of the chinstrap extends from the helmet.
Other businesses who have taken their ideas through to market after attending one of our workshops include a thermoelectric camping stove, a hair tapestry device, and a £35k carbon fibre trimaran sailing boat.
You can also receive expert confidential advice on your product idea with one-to-one sessions with David and Stefan, which are made up of 30 minutes with David and 30 minutes with Stefan. This is only open to those who have attended the workshop as they come prepared with the relevant questions and information to make the session as efficient as possible.
06 January 2020
We currently have a great exhibition on at the British Library on Buddhism, covering its origins, its art and its relevance today and I was lucky enough, to take a look at it.
Buddhism began in sixth century in north India with the first encounters between Buddhist culture and the West occurring as far back as at least the fourth century. It is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.
Now, being a bit of an intellectual property (IP) nerd, IP is usually in the back of my mind as I wander through the various exhibitions. The recent British Library Writing and Leonardo da Vinci exhibitions were an absolute gift to someone like me who enjoys digging for relevant intellectual property material. However, Buddhism is a slightly more difficult topic methinks!
It didn’t stop me though, I now know that there are 3,881 registered designs to be found though searching the DesignView database (the database holds designs from 65 countries in total). Sadly though, none of the designs were actually still in force, they had all either ’lapsed’ or ‘ended’. Some of them covered very intricate designs such as the design for a pendant shown below.
This Buddha pendant was made to a French design registered by Societe d'initiative commerciale, which lapsed in 1921. Lapsed usually means that the rights holder did not keep up payment of the renewal fees.
And what about patents? Well a quick, top level patent search through the Espacenet database looking for patents for moving Buddha items and using the keywords; statue? and mov* and buddh* resulted in 13 hits including:
- Adjustable Buddha statue fixing seat - CN107224179 (A)
- Decorative bronze statue with lighting function - CN209063788 (U)
- Hollow bronze statue with built-in incense burner - CN209063787 (U)
- Hanging niche for statue of Buddha - CN204427578 (U)
- Buddhist melody player - CN204015893 (U)
Unfortunately, these are all either Chinese patents or Chinese utility models (short-term national patents) and the drawings are extremely hard to decipher, so I didn’t feel there was much point in including them here.
Trade marks on the other hand, there were 179 trade marks designating the United Kingdom which included the word ‘Buddha’. These trade marks were registered in classes which cover all sorts of goods and services. EU002695005 ‘Buddha-Bar’ for example is owned by GEORGE V EATERTAINMENT of Paris, France and is protected in various classes including perfumes, soaps etc., jewellery and horological instruments, household/kitchen utensils etc. plus a number of other categories of goods and services.
Looking at the various trade marks and the goods and services covered did make me think about how people choose their trade mark or their company name. As a consumer I have to say that personally I would expect any trade mark containing the word ‘Buddha’ to be connected in some way to Buddhism and the Buddhist religion. Perhaps that is the intention?
Trade marks, generally speaking, are used to indicate the origin of goods or services using “graphic” means. This usually means words, logos, pictures or possibly a combination of all these elements. Since a trade mark is likely to be one of the most valuable assets a company will own, it is worth taking time to choose a good one.
A new trade mark must not only not be the same as an existing mark, but it must also not be confusingly similar. So it’s important to do a thorough search (or to have a professional one done for you) through not only the UK trade mark system, but through all countries or regions in which you want to trade.
You can search trade marks through the Government’s website, which contains details of all UK national trade marks as well as all Community and International trade marks that designate the United Kingdom. For more countries/wider coverage try TM View.
So some search key pointers;
- A trade mark is a badge of origin, used so that customers can recognise the product of a particular trader. Choose one that is distinctive for the goods or services you are intending to supply for example McDonalds, Wimpey, and Burger King immediately identify the desired burger or other fast food product.
- Making your trade mark up is a good idea - think Adidas, Kodak, and Nike.
- Don’t use words which describe what you do, descriptive marks will be refused registration.
- Don’t try and register a mark which shows quality, quantity, purpose or value, again registration will be refused.
- When searching similar marks it is necessary to take into account how the marks sound when spoken as well as how they appear in print. Just changing, omitting or adding letters to an existing trade mark does not necessarily (in fact it will very rarely) result in a new trade mark.
Whilst trade marks help consumers to differentiate the goods and services of one provider from those of a competitor, they also assure the consumer of a certain level of quality of goods or service.
In the same way company names can also be powerful things and the right name can give you a lead in your chosen area of business. So are my thoughts on choosing a company name;
- Keep it simple, think Apple, Orange, Blackberry. All large electronic companies with small but easily remembered company names.
- Avoid quirky spellings. They might seem trendy or dynamic but constantly having to correct misspellings will simply become old and tiresome after a very short while.
- Think about where you would like your business to be in the next five or ten years and avoid any name that might give the impression your business is a one trick pony. You are bound to want to grow and potentially branch out into other areas of business.
- Think about whether or not you want your company name to also be your trade mark. A company name is not the same as a trade mark so if it’s important in trading, register the wording as a trade mark if possible.
- Think about the image you are trying to portray to your intended market e.g. homely or luxurious or reliable or safe and try and chose a name the fits that image in their minds.
This actually leads me (briefly, I promise!) on to another topic, domain names! It is worth pointing out that trade marks, company names and domain names are three entirely separate things and that ownership of one does not automatically entitle you to ownership of the other two.
A domain name however can sometimes be more effective than a trade mark – think Compare-the-Market.com and the trials and tribulations of Aleksandr, Sergei, Oleg and Ayana!
Compare the Market would not have been accepted for registration as a trade mark as it is descriptive, but clever marketing turned a virtually unknown business into a much loved (by me at least!) TV ad soap opera.
If you are not sure, or if you would like more information please visit your local Business & IP Centre. Most of the BIPCs will offer access to a database called COBRA and from there you can find two business information factsheets that will provide help on the topic of choosing a name for your business or domain. The fact sheets in question are:
- BIF096 “Choosing and registering an internet domain name”
- BIF368 “Choosing business and Company names”
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.
10 December 2019
Loretta Awuah is our Start-ups in London Libraries SME Champion for Greenwich. She is based in the borough providing support to aspiring entrepreneurs as part of the Start-ups in London Libraries (SiLL) programme.
I start the week off by working through my inbox and responding to all the emails from people who are requesting one-to-one sessions and enquiry emails from people wanting to join the SiLL programme. It’s always great to see the wide range of potential businesses who I can register to the project. On this particular Monday it’s a food business and a social enterprise. We also have a weekly meeting with our borough SiLL team to discuss upcoming events and the support they may need. In the SiLL project, we support two types of entrepreneurs – people who have an idea which they haven’t yet developed and those who have been registered for a year or less, so we also look at ways of supporting and reaching these two different groups.
A big part of my job is showing the resources available in the library and supporting businesses in making the most of them. So in the afternoon, I do a COBRA tutorial with a newly registered business who is interested in finding out more information about ethical fashion and industry trade shows. It is amazing how much you can find on these databases so she leaves with a pack of information that will help give her direction and inform her next moves.
One of the best things about being able to offer the one-to-one sessions is that in one morning I can be looking at very different businesses and helping them map very different things, using varying techniques and models. This morning I have two sessions: one with an aspiring entrepreneur where we create a business model canvas and discuss her company structure; and another with someone wanting to start a social enterprise during which we developed a value proposition statement. No two sessions are ever the same and I love hearing how many ideas are springing out of Greenwich – it’s definitely a buzzing borough and that shows in the range of businesses I talk to.
The afternoon brings a presentation I delivered as part of Black History Month on the history of the black entrepreneurs across the African diaspora (past and present) and the impact of their products and services, combined with a workshop on ‘can you turn your passion into a business idea?’ I think it’s so important to acknowledge the benefits of a diverse business community, and how transformational this can be for the entrepreneurs, customers and their local communities
Relationship building with local organisations is also a big part of my job and I finish the day by confirming dates to collaborate with GLLaB (Greenwich Local Labour and Business) which is a council run organisation working with employers to promote job vacancies for local people. The aim of this meeting will be to promote the SiLL programme amongst job seekers interested in starting a business in different areas within Greenwich.
More meetings today with a presentation to the Plumstead Traders Forum about the SiLL programme and the support they could receive and a meeting with the GCDA (Greenwich Cooperative Development Agency) about the support they provide to aspiring food entrepreneurs.
The one-to-one I had scheduled in for today was with a potential businesswoman looking at applying for funding for a project she would like to deliver next year, and sourcing a bid writer so again, we are able to make some definite progress in that area.
As I am the midpoint between the Business & IP Centre at the British Library and the borough I also have regular meetings with the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s business engagement team. Today we have one to discuss collaboration opportunities in 2020 and information about business licenses on behalf of SiLL clients
Greenwich has a really active Start-ups in London Libraries community, which has been born out of people attending the workshops, receiving one to ones etc, and so we run a monthly session with our SiLL clients and other start-ups. It’s a safe space where they can all share updates on achievements, progress made and discuss challenges they are facing which they would like support. This month we also had Gary Parker, Director from CNT Associates deliver a presentation on funding for small businesses and social enterprises.
A big focus for me this month has been preparing for the Greenwich Christmas Start-up Marketplace we are delivering on 4 and 5 December to enable SiLL clients and other local start-ups to promote their business, trade and test out ideas. A lot of the time, these small businesses can use this sort of platform really effectively, to not only sell their products and services but do some market research and evaluate out the appetite out there.
There are smaller jobs I fit in where I can like arranging catering for the ‘Get ready for business workshop’ on December 11 2019 at West Greenwich Library – not the most exciting job but crucially important. We don’t want our workshop attendees going hungry!
Then there‘s time for one more presentation this week, this time to the Black Female Entrepreneur Greenwich organisation on effective time management tips and an overview of the SiLL programme. I love talking about the programme and getting the name out there as much as possible. People are always so surprised that they can get this support completely free.
All 10 of the SME Champions from each of the boroughs have monthly training sessions at the British Library to hear from some of the key organisations like HMRC and big banks which ensure that our knowledge of the business support landscape is up to date and relevant. Things are changing so quickly, and there will be lots to learn particularly after Brexit has happened, so these sessions are always really eye-opening. As well as providing the support, we need to make sure we’re signposting other sources as much as possible as well and acting as a convener.
After a full day of training, I pick up my baby son Joshua from the childminder, which is always a perfect end to the work. I’m looking forward to spending a restful weekend with him before getting going again on Monday.
The Start-ups in London Libraries project is generously supported by the European Regional Development Fund, J.P. Morgan and Arts Council England.
06 December 2019
It’s fair to say that 2019 has been a jam-packed one for the BIPC. We wanted to have a look back at some of the highlights this year has provided for us and so without further ado, we present to you the 12 Days of BIPC and first off, our true love (by which we mean our BIPC community) gave to us….
A brand new series of blogs
In January, we started our Week in the Life Of... blogs, taking a look into the weekly tasks of entrepreneurs, staff and others involved in offering business advisory services. Since then, we've heard…
🏊 how sometimes running your own business means you just have to go to your daughter's swimming gala in a cocktail dress with The Foraging Fox
In the second month, we got…
A brand new BIPC
In February, we celebrated the launch of our Cambridgeshire and Peterborough BIPC, our 11th BIPC in the UK. The new centre is a hub for entrepreneurs, bringing them together to network, attend events and access a wealth of resources like databases, market research and other business info. On the day, Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Co and Entrepreneur in Residence at BIPC London, gave a speech and highlighted the importance the Centre would have on local entrepreneurs: “It’s easy to be put off in the early days of setting up your business. You can’t know everything from the start, but you do need a vision and the will to achieve it. I believe this resource will help entrepreneurs on that journey!’
In the third month, our treat was….
Our sold out Start-up Stars
On the topic of 'How I Disrupted My Market', with a panel of trailblazing entrepreneurs including CompliMed, In A Wish & 33Shake, alumni from the Innovating for Growth: Scale up programme, chaired by motivational speaker and coach Rasheed Ogunlaru. Our audience learnt out how the panel of businesses challenged the status quo and shook up their sector.
On the fourth highlight day, our beautiful National Network gave to us….
A brand new BIPC (again!)
Another month, another launch at the Mitchell Library for BIPC Glasgow. The first BIPC in Scotland, the 12th as part of our National Network, and a partnership between the British Library, Glasgow Life, the National Library of Scotland and Santander. Dr John Scally, National Librarian at the National Library of Scotland, said of the launch: “Creativity and innovation among entrepreneurs and start-ups rely on the most up-to-date information and advice available. We have vast business and intellectual property resources in our collections and want businesses throughout Scotland to know that help and expertise is there. We are pleased to partner with the British Library and the Mitchell Library to open this service in Glasgow. By our combined efforts we will help local businesses thrive.”
Our fifth day brings us to…
Our Start-ups in London Libraries launch
For our latest programme, Start-ups in London Libraries which brings start-up support to 10 London high streets, we had an amazing launch event in City Hall at the beginning of May, where the Deputy Mayor of Business, Rajesh Agrawal, announced that he was going to be the Champion of Champions for the project and threw his support behind the plan. He said “This initiative will deliver vital support to our burgeoning small business community while providing a huge boost for the capital’s libraries.”
Fast forward to now and a total of more than 850 businesses have attended Start-ups in London Libraries workshops and seen our borough support teams for help getting their business off the ground. And it’s onwards and upwards from here!
Which leads us nicely onto the sixth day of the BIPC…
Our new Start-ups in London Libraries look and feel
In June, after our Start-ups in London Libraries launch, we released our brand new campaign for the project, featuring some potentially familiar faces – our London success stories (or BIPs). From cats with cake to coffee with a conscious, these brilliant businesses cover the wide range of companies we’re hoping will also come out of the project, and it provided a great opportunity for us to showcase just some of our BIPC community who were already sitting in specific boroughs, including Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, Cyclehoop, Change Please, Sabina Motasem and HR Sports Academy. And as you’ll see, Start-ups in London Libraries wasn’t the only thing getting a makeover this year…
On the seventh day, we’re remembering…
How we cemented our reputation with stats in our economic evaluation report (and celebrated it in Westminster!)
July saw us head to the House of Lords to launch our Democratising Entrepreneurship report, which looked at libraries as engines of economic growth, highlighting that the BIPC had helped create 12,288 new businesses, 7,843 jobs and £78m GVA. Out of those we helped start a new business, 22% were from the most deprived areas, 55% were women and 29% were aged 35 and under. We are committed to continue offering accessible business support across our National Network and in London, to help you plan, start and grow your business.
The eighth day, of the BIPC brings us..
We continued to spruce up the BIPC with our new marketing materials, featuring talented entrepreneurs who received business support at the BIPC and also from our network of national hubs. We’re so delighted to have been able to show off the tangible results of the BIPC business support this year in our new campaign and capture the range of people who have been able to start up or scale up in part through our services. Included in our community and photographed for our marketing materials were: Annie from Campbell Medical Illustrations, Gil from ChattyFeet, Amanda from I Can Make Shoes, Abigail and Chloe from Buttercrumble, Joe from Krio Kanteen, Natalie from Acacia and Marcela from Sacpot. We can’t wait to keep growing our business community up and down the country and look forward to adding more faces to these in 2020.
On the ninth day was when we started to realise that 12 is a lot of highlights to pack into one blog, but luckily, we had plenty of exciting events to see us through the last couple of months of 2019… so for our ninth day…
We got inspired
In September, we were thrilled to host another stellar Inspiring Entrepreneurs event with a wider focus on people who are at the forefront of the UK’s creative industries. With our incomparable moderator, Night Czar, Amy Lamé and a panel consisting of Jamal Edwards, Irene Agbontaen and Rick Lowe, no one could leave the auditorium without feeling inspired and energised.
On the tenth day, we find ourselves at…
Our biggest event of the year
Maybe our biggest day of the year was Start-up Day which took place in October and you can now rewatch on our YouTube channel. There are too many highlights to mention but include panel discussions on starting up on a shoestring and profit with a purpose, a brilliant presentation and candid chat with the charity, Mind, and Julie Deane OBE about looking after your mental health while getting started, and an epic keynote from Steph McGovern, where she discussed embracing your authenticity and finding business potential in recessions and times of economic hardship. It was a truly inspiring day and we can't wait to hear about the progress of the 400 entrepreneurs who stepped through the doors! We'll be back with Start-up Day 2020 before you know it.
On our penultimate day, we received…
The chance to discuss the BIPC in the Anything but Silent podcast
In November, we were featured in the British Library podcast ‘Anything but Silent’, with our Innovating for Growth alumna and Start-ups in London Libraries’ ambassador, Mickela Hall-Ramsay from HR Sports Academy, and were able to discuss and celebrate one of our favourite topics, community in the world of business. It's worth a listen all year round!
Which brings us to, our 12th day…
A touch of luxury
Our final 2019 Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Leaders in Luxe, took place earlier this month, where we saw our panel – Frieda Gormley from House of Hackney, Clare Hornby from Me and Em, Jennifer Chamandi Boghossian from Jennifer Chamandi, Rupert Holloway from Conker Spirit and Darren Sital Singh from The Jackal, moderated by Walpole’s Helen Brocklebank - discuss the future of British luxury, how they built their brand and overcame challenges along the way. You can watch the catch-up discussion on our YouTube channel, link in bio.
And that is it for 2019! What an exciting year and we have particularly loved seeing our support spread to more places and people than ever before.
Stay tuned for even more in 2020…. See you then.
01 October 2019
Start-up Day takes place on 11 October and the libraries involved in our brand new Start-ups in London Libraries programme did not want to miss out on being a part of the BIPC's biggest day of the year. For the first time ever, events will not only be taking place across the country in our BIPCs but also in the SiLL London boroughs - Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The London boroughs have drawn on their local resources and localised knowledge to bring specific start-up advice to each of their business communities.
Start up Day of 2019 has now taken place but you can find some of the recorded highlights from the events that proceeded during that years Start up Day from this blog by the Business & IP Centre.
There are activities going on from morning to evening across our partner boroughs. For more details, have a look below and click on any of the links to register our place in your local borough:
Some of our boroughs are taking part in our co-ordinated coffee morning which is a great chance for networking and to meet your local Champion. If you are close to Walthamstow Library, Brixton Library, the Woolwich Centre or Bexley’s Central Library, register your place at these links and pop along for a coffee and a chat.
If you’re looking for advice on digital marketing, stay on at Woolwich Library for a workshop on the topic, which will aim to help you identify the right channels for your business and give you advice on building your digital community through them. This is followed by a workshop on personal branding between 13.30 and 14.30.
From 10.30-13.00, Croydon will be having a mammoth Start-up Roadshow, with local exhibitors, such as Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund and Croydon Business Hub, and organisations like Santander who will be on-hand to offer guidance and advice. It’s also a great opportunity to network so make sure to book your spot if you are near South London and head to Croydon Central Library for that.
Between 11.00-12.00 and 14.00-15.00, Tower Hamlets will be running introductory sessions to the library business resources at Idea Store Whitechapel. These workshops will take you through key information sources accessible in your library that can help enhance your business performance. Attendees can also use their own smartphones to access the Council website and be guided by staff to some of the services that have moved online. To request more information on Tower Hamlets’ Start-up Day offering, please email the local Champion.
If you aren’t able to make it to the British Library for our jam packed afternoon of talks, some of the borough libraries are live streaming the panels and speeches direct to their libraries. You can find these at:
- Croydon Central Library
- Leytonstone Library
- Lewisham Library (drop in – contact SiLL@lewisham.gov.uk for more information)
- Bexley Central Library
If you need help researching your market and protecting your idea, some of the boroughs are focusing on COBRA – the Complete Business Reference Advisor – Southwark is running a whole day training session on the system which you can book for here, while Newham is running a session on the system as well which is bookable here.
Lambeth’s afternoon session will be between 12.00 and 13.45 and will be led by Drew London, a Lambeth-based branding and digital communications agency. The masterclass will be on branding and digital communications so head to Brixton Library if this is an area you are looking to focus on and are looking for tried and tested advice.
Lewisham will be hosting Santander who will give a talk on several topics such as cybersecurity (14.00 – 14.45), funding and finance (15.00 – 15.45) and starting a business on a shoestring (16.00 – 16.45) at Lewisham Library. With time for questions, it is sure to be a comprehensive afternoon with expert advice on starting up.
We are not 9-5 people in the boroughs so we also have some events taking place in the evening. If you are based near Haringey, there will be a talk on how to grow your Business and Client Base using Digital Media with local partners from Visual Marvelry, 4U2 and Frame Perfect
SEO is a term that can be thrown around yet still remain a bit of a mystery, yet it's integral to getting your business' name out there. Newham aim to help debunk it by running an evening talk by SEO expert, Mike Loomey, on making the most of Google for your business.
So whether you decide to hop around different boroughs on the day or choose one and soak up everything that borough has to offer, Start-up Day is sure to have something that will set you on the road to making your idea a reality.
You can find a round up each of the borough’s booking links (where applicable) below:
- Lambeth - Coffee Morning, Digital Marketing Workshop and Drinks Networking Reception
- Newham - Introduction to COBRA and Google SEO session
- Tower Hamlets (drop in sessions only – contact email@example.com for more information)
- Waltham Forest - Coffee morning and Livestreaming
20 September 2019
Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Maximising Your Intellectual Property 1:1 Part 2
Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.
This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about marketing, branding, intellectual property, financial management, product innovation, marketing strategy, branding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun has his second session on intellectual property with Briffa...
In the previous session we chatted about IP and Data Protection issues in general (you can see what I got out of the session in my previous blog on IP) and since then I have ensured that our agreements with third-parties and employee contracts reflect the IP and data considerations that were raised. This week we concentrated fully on trademark registration as we have been trading a while across many territories and it is something we have dipped our toe into, but only in the UK.
For the UK we covered the steps needed to successfully pass an UKIPO examiner and which classes we should be considering (you can see more guidance on trade marks on the .Gov website). We then talked about international trademarks as the market for JRPass is worldwide, with customers across the US, EU and Asia, so this is a logical step for us. The requirements vary widely according to national authority and some may be prohibitive cost-wise so you need to pick and choose carefully. The most cost-effective way of seeking protection in a number of territories (more than one or two) is to go through the World Intellectual Property Office or WIPO, which offers international trade mark protection. To do so you need an existing trade mark application in any one jurisdiction (EU or UK for example) to use as a ‘base filing’, you then pay a fixed fee to WIPO to access their system, and you can then choose to ‘designate’ any of the WIPO signatory states. Your base filing will then effectively be duplicated in these territories.
The adviser told me that going through WIPO allows you to save considerable fees if you are filing in a large number of territories, as it is often cheaper than applying directly to the relevant IPO, and instructing local counsel. A WIPO mark can be filed here in the UK, which means that you do not have only have to deal with offices for each individual territory. If you only need one or two foreign registrations then it may be best to apply directly. Most IP firms work with foreign filing agents who can act as representatives in that case.
Not related to the session, but still talking about logos... I have been using the design marketplace 99designs recently and had a good experience, so would recommend giving it a go if anyone is in the market for new branding. Also, as I write this, it is the eve of the Rugby World Cup with Japan vs Russia kicking off the opening game! It is already an incredibly busy time for us in the office. Hoping it will be a great tournament for all. To find out more about how JRPass can help with travel during the World Cup, you can visit our website for more information.
06 September 2019
Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Maximising your intellectual property
Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.
This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial management, product innovation, marketing strategy, branding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun discusses what he learnt in his one-on-one session on intellectual property and how it’s important to every business...
Again this session was really packed and I had a lot of questions for our advisor from Briffa who are Intellectual Property legal specialists. We covered the following main areas:
Copyright – Since the founding of the company we have used a lot of designers for our website. Many get caught by this, but the default position for designs is that copyright remains with the designer unless signed over. We discussed having everything in place contractually for our external contributors to sign over rights as necessary.
Trademarks – We discussed our current situation with regards to current trademarks and opportunities going forward both in the UK and US now that our website is well established. This is really important when you have spent a lot of time and money in creating a brand. You need to protect that goodwill and mind-space effectively.
Commercial Contracts – We reviewed our external contracts with third parties e.g. developers to ensure that our IP is fully protected and cannot be exploited by others.
Data Protection – I’m sure we have all been grappling with GDPR ad nauseam and Data Privacy! Once again we reviewed and ensured that we had proper policies in place that are tailored for your specific company, and reflected this in our terms and conditions and on our website. For us, as a company who depends on online payments, this also feeds into PSD2 and SCA changes which are coming in September (you can read more about the changes here: https://www.visa.co.uk/dam/VCOM/regional/ve/unitedkingdom/PDF/visa-preparing-for-psd2-sca-publication-version-1-1-05-12-18-002-final.pdf).
HR – We agreed to review and incorporate IP and Data Protection in our employee contracts. This is something that did not occur to me previously so was good to catch this one.
As you can see there was a ton covered here and a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross that can affect your daily working practices. I think we have been ok with these areas previously, but as any company expands rapidly it is easy to lose sight of these basic legal protections and responsibilities to the point that it could easily prove to be a banana skin down the road. It’s the type of thing that many companies just kick down the road or ignore until it’s too late as we all would prefer to concentrate on the fundamental nuts and bolts of our companies. However it is really important to make sure this is all organised competently and safely, and this session really brought that home.
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