07 August 2019
Rose Hill is a graphic artist who has garnered renown for her personal commissions and her 'Make Your Pet Famous' series. She trained as a textile designer at the Chelsea University of Arts and took part in the BIPC's Innovating for Growth programme in 2015. Here, in celebration of International Cat Day, she shares how furry friends have shaped her work and business.
What is your business?
I'm Rose, a graphic artist. I create award-winning Pop Art designs - from painted murals to my personally commissioned 'Make Your Pet Famous' artworks which are now sold in Harrods. My 'Make Your Pet Famous' collection is where I illustrate your pet in my Pop Art style. Each piece is lovingly designed in North London and made in England.
What inspires your work?
I love creating art and am particularly keen that my work brings people joy and pleasure. The art I create is fun and approachable and it aims to reflect what you like best about the world around you, which, let's face it, more often that not, is your pets! The colour palettes I use are very bright, which is important because of the effect that colour can have on your mood.
Pattern and texture is also a big inspiration in my work. Each piece of artwork has 64 geometric patterns layered into it. I hand draw every pet using a Surface Pro laptop. It allows me to draw straight onto the computer screen as if it was a pen and paper. Using a variety of drawing techniques including line drawings, I assemble together every element of their face and body and then insert the different colours and tones of patterns in each feature and change the opacity of each of them to give depth and tone. All have at least 10 layers and most have considerably more. I love mixing the modern technology with the traditional style of craftmanship. To add to that, each work is printed onto brushed paper to make it look like it is on fabric.
Seeing the customer's reaction after I've taken them on the creative journey with me from start to finish is also very inspirational.
How did you put your offer together and find customers?
The process of getting customers for Make Your Pet Famous was very organic. A customer commissioned me to draw their dog, Lola. At that time I had 11 dogs in my card and stationery collection and needed 12 for my first Trade Show. So I asked if I could use Lola in my collection. They loved the idea and so did everyone else! When I was at trade shows and would explain about Lola, people would ask if I could draw their dog too and add to my next collection. This continued to happen and after five more commissions I thought there was something in this. They would say ‘You’ll make my dog famous’ and so that's how the name came about.
I got some lovely recommendations and positive feedback and the word began to spread more. Word of mouth has been a big part of me finding customers because normally when people get their works, they are so delighted they immediately tell their friends about it! This led to my 'Make Your Pet Famous' exhibitions which built on this relationship between humans and pets at a live event. And of course, social media is a wonderful way to meet people and connect with people.
How did the Business & IP Centre fit in to your business journey?
I completed the Innovating for Growth programme which was incredible and would 100% recommend it. When doing your market research at the Business & IP Centre you can look at the Mintel and Keynote reports - which are normally hugely expensive and filled with important data - completely for free. They are an incredible tool and you can even send 10% of them to yourself for free, which is so helpful for continuing your research. Irini and all the staff at the Business & IP Centre are a fountain of knowledge and will help you with any question you may have. There are other great search tools for funding and other valuable information!
What advice would you give someone trying to find their niche?
Try stuff! Experiment and play. It’s really important to enjoy what you are doing. When you work for yourself and/ or have your own business it can be incredibly tough and it’s so important to truly LOVE what you are doing otherwise you may as work for someone else and know the income you will get each month. Create something you're passionate about and there are other people who are passionate about it too. Resilience and grit are key qualities to have.
How have you been able to grow the business?
Growing the business is really important but the most important thing is how you want it to grow! It’s very easy to go down the garden path of what is selling the best and where you're making money which is of course very important. But more important, I believe, is to go where you will feel satisfied creatively, financially and mentally. It’s a great idea to keep checking in with yourself regularly to see if your goals are still your goals. Artistic freedom has always been number one for me! So in my case, it meant letting the cards and stationery side of the business go so that I could concentrate on the creative side and personal commissions. I licensed my designs and got others to sell products for me so that I could concentrate on that.
What's been your best/most rewarding/most surreal moment in business so far?
Probably doing my ‘Make Your Pet Famous’ exhibitions in the last year, one in Warren Street and another in Japan. The private views for these were so special and among the best nights of my life.
I've also been so lucky to have done so many amazing commissions and collaborations, for example getting a commission from Charles Saatchi (to illustrate and make his daughter a dress) straight from my degree show. I feel very proud to have drawn two artworks for Sadie Frost which has been featured in magazines like Red. There was also a commission to do a portrait for Robert Webb and his family. As I'm such an animal lover, doing a collaboration with ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo was wonderful, as was a collaboration with the British Museum. Finally, having Harrods as a stockist to many items including the 'Make Your Pet Famous' range and designing a print and accessories especially for them under their own name has been incredible. Being able to sell my art and stationery across the world, places like Japan, America and Australia is an amazing feeling! It's an honour to be able to create a life and business that people love and want to be a part of.
How did cats start becoming a key part of your work?
When starting the 'Make Your Pet Famous' collection it began with dogs but very soon after everyone wanted cats. I was always asked 'where are the cats?' because everyone loves cats! They became an integral part of my offering from that point on, with Tupac as the first #MakeYourPetFamous cat.
Do you have any notes about intellectual property and your work?
The Business & IP Centre are very helpful in this area and would recommend you go and speak to them if you have any questions on intellectual property! They can direct you to specialists. They have all the details on copyright, trademark and registered designs and can help you to get protected, which they certainly did with me.
You can find Rose's work at https://www.rosehilldesigns.co.uk/. She has recently put on another #MakeYourPetFamous exhibition in Islington and will be doing another one in October 2019 in Hackney. You can find all the details on her website.
05 June 2019
Business & IP Centre Hull, part of our National Network, recently visit Porto, Portugal for the first PATLIB Summit. Sue Pleasance, Enterprise and IP Lead Officer attended, along with other representatives of national patent offices of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) member states, their PATLIB centres, and their host organisations, European and international organisations involved in IP, technology transfer and innovation. The Summit gave attendees a chance to learn from each other and plan the way forward for PATLIBs across Europe. But first, what are PATLIBs?
The EPO supports a network of patent information centres (PATLIB centres) throughout Europe and has evolved from a grouping of national patent libraries, widely distributed in the member states. PATLIB is an acronym for a PATent LIBrary, however not all PATLIB centres are actually libraries; a number of them are located in national patent offices, universities and chambers of commerce. The main aim of the network is to enable patent information centres to communicate with each other in a feasible and convenient way.
PATLIB Centres provide patent information and, depending on the national system for intellectual property rights, many also provide information on other intellectual property rights like trademarks, designs and models. PATLIB staff provide advice and guidance on searches for IP, some also perform searches for their clients.
Back to the Summit, my journey went well and I arrived stress free thanks to fabulous organisation skills of the team at the EPO and was ready to get involved with the Summit’s activities and meet many friendly people from all over Europe to discuss and debate how we deliver intellectual property support and guidance.
How stunning the conference venue was Palacia da Bolsa! In particular the Arabian Room where our UK IPO representative Laura Phillips did a great job presenting on how we deliver PATLIB support. Over the two days we attended talks and took part discussions and workshops to discuss, debate and agree on actions needed to strengthen the network and improve and enhance services. Shout out to fellow PATLIB teams’ Mel (Plymouth), Tony (Glasgow) and Ben (Leeds), the latter are also part of the National Network, for great company, lots of laughs and their adventurous spirit!
It wasn’t all work and no play, Grelhador da Boavista was a hidden gem of fresh tasty traditional Portuguese food with HUGE portions, a great atmosphere, humour and quirkiness, which I’ll remember for a long time. Tasting the local beer, Superboc, was a bit hit and miss, had we known there was a whole lounge dedicated to it at the airport we may have waited!
We were also able to find out more about the history of the port, and what better way than by boat, with a trip up the river Douro from the Estiva Quay, followed by dinner at the Alfandega, with a traditional Fado performance.
I was glad we stayed in the city centre in the evening following Day 2 of the conference, where we made a trip to the famous exquisite bookshop Livraria Lello and experienced the traditional celebration Queima das Fitas do Porto, (Porto Burning of the Ribbons).
A lovely end to the evening was when Danielle from the Czech Republic spotted a fabulous local restaurant overlooking the river, serving excellent food, which we enjoyed whilst finding out more about each other’s work and lives.
If it sounds like we had a lot of fun – we did! The fantastic hospitality of the EPO and the Porto community encouraged us to make the most of our stay. But we did work hard and I’m not sure how we managed to cram quite so much in!
The outcome of the event was a set of strategic recommendations to the EPO in a document called the Porto Paper. The Porto Paper can be found here.
Finally I arrived home shattered but with a firm sense of achievement and proud that the UK had contributed well towards the future developments of PATLIBs. It was a privilege to be involved in the summit and how it will benefit Business & IP Centre users from around the country, including Hull. At the Business & IP Centre Hull, we offer free access to databases, market research, journals, directories and reports; a programme of free and low-cost events including workshops on a range of topics such as business planning, social media, market research and intellectual property. Through ERDF funding we are also able to provide free workshops, events, seminars, expert clinics and one to one coaching and mentoring for anyone in Hull who wants to start or grow a business.
Sue Pleasance, Enterprise and IP Lead Officer at the Business & IP Centre Hull
Sue has been the Lead Officer for the PATLIB and Business & IP Centre based in Hull Central Library since 2016. She leads a team of trained staff to provide intellectual property support and guidance, workshops, events and seminars to support potential entrepreneurs and businesses in the area.
29 May 2019
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright. The IPO operates and maintains a clear and accessible intellectual property system in the UK, which encourages innovation and helps the economy and society to benefit from knowledge and ideas, as well as helping people get the right type of protection for their creation or invention. Here the IPO outlines the basics of IP and explains how you can discover your IP rights.
Intellectual property (IP) rights grant you the ability to take legal action if others attempt to make, use, import, copy or sell your creation.
The four main types of IP rights are:
Work in the creative sector? You’ve probably heard a lot about copyright but may not fully understand how it protects your work.
Copyright is a property right which is intended to reward the making of, and investment in, creative works. Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts and published editions.
In the UK, copyright comes into being automatically when a qualifying work is created; there is no formal registration. The term of protection for most copyright material is the life of the creator, plus 70 years from the date of their death. Check the website for more information on how long copyright lasts.
Copyright grants the creator the right to authorise or prohibit copying, distribution to the public, rental/lending, public performance, adaptation, and communication to the public.
A flair for design
Crafter or designer?
Design refers to the appearance or ‘look’ of products. The look of your design includes the appearance, physical shape, configuration and decoration. This can be 2D patterns or 3D designs.
Registering your design allows you to gain a marketing edge by preventing others from using it without your permission.
Unregistered UK design right automatically protects your work for 10 years from when it was sold, or 15 years from when it was created, whichever is earliest. However, it only protects the shape and configuration of a design and does not include 2-dimensional designs like textiles and wallpaper.
Unregistered designs offer limited protection and can be difficult to enforce. Where disputes arise, you may have to prove the existence of your rights. Unlike registered designs, it will be your responsibility to prove intentional copying.
The ‘lightbulb’ moment
Think you may have invented a market sell-out or something that could even change the world? Or perhaps something simple that just makes everyday life that little bit easier?
A patent protects new inventions and lets you take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports your invention without your permission. You can only apply for a patent if you have created something that is inventive, new and useful.
A patent specification is a legal document and requires specialist skills to draft properly. Your chances of obtaining a patent are significantly greater if you use an attorney. Visit the website to find out why you should use an IP attorney.
The most common mistake made by inventors is revealing their invention before applying for a patent. It is your choice on whether you decide to take your product straight to market or apply for patent protection. However, if you have made your invention public, you could lose the possibility of obtaining a granted patent.
Sometimes, you may need help from a third party to create or distribute your products. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are created when a business owner is speaking to potential partners such as investors, manufacturers and stockists.
NDAs are important when applying for patent protection. If a third party is helping you to create your product, make sure they sign an NDA, or it could affect your chances of gaining a patent. To learn more read our guidance on non-disclosure agreements .
Building a brand
Creating a brand that encompasses what you and your business offers is an important aspect of your business plan.
You may want something distinctive and unique that sets you apart in a crowded market. A trade mark protects your company name, logo, or a phrase. It can even protect a shape, colour, sound, aspect of packaging or any combination of these.
The registration of your company name with Companies House doesn’t automatically protect it. You have the legal right to the name, but it doesn’t stop other businesses from trading under very similar names.
The most effective trade marks are those ‘distinctive’ to the goods and services they protect. This allows consumers to identify your goods or service from your competitors. So, if your company name describes the products you sell or the services you offer, there’s a good chance it won’t be distinctive enough to be a registered trade mark!
It is recommended you search our trade marks database before applying to see if a similar trade mark to your brand already exists.
Sharing out the IP
A license grants a third-party permission to do something that would be an infringement of your IP rights without the license.
IP can be “licensed-out” or “licensed-in”. You can “license-out” to another company in return for a fee. You can “license-in” if you want to use another company’s IP to develop your own business and products.
Free online learning
The Intellectual Property Office’s has a range of online learning tools to help you better understand your IP rights.
Our IP Health Check free online tool can help you identify what IP you own. Answer a series of questions and receive a tailored confidential report, based on what you have told us.
IP Equip tool is a free online CPD-accredited training tool. It takes your through four short modules and uses case studies to show why intellectual property is important.
More of a visual learner? Our IP Basics videos provide short, simple explanations of the various IP rights. They also cover licensing and franchising, how to avoid infringing IP and what to do if your business is a victim of IP crime.
Don’t forget to sign up to our e-alerts to receive IP advice, events and updates direct to your inbox.
28 September 2018
Activities in 17 libraries around the UK. 101 business events delivered. More than 1,000 attendees across all locations. Webcast around the world. Start-up Day, in collaboration with Santander, once again proved to be a huge success.
With a full day’s worth of events, there’s a lot of information and words of wisdom to take in from each speaker. Need a recap of what was said? Missed a crucial top tip? Want to relive it again? Or if you missed it, we’ve compiled all the videos of the speakers in this post, along with a key take away tip from each...
Top tip from Mintel senior consumer lifestyles analyst, Jack Duckett:
Consumer confidence is on a growth trajectory, meaning there are opportunities for brands to grow.
Top tip from Google Digital Garage's Chami Coomasaru:
Set yourself goals, think how you want your brand to be perceived and choose the platforms which are appropriate for your business.
Top tip from author and motivational speaker, Anis Qizilbash:
Steep in your purpose... your success does not mean another person's loss. The more you make, the bigger impact you create.
Top tip from public speaking coach, Elaine Powell:
[Your pitch] is never going to be perfect. Always ask for feedback and take your performance to the next level, and the next level, and the next level. Never give up, it's a journey, not an end destination.
Top tip from author, motivational speaker and business coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru:
[Networking] online is the window to your world, meeting people in person is the door.
Top tip from former CEO of Tangle Teezer, Matt Lumb:
Don’t try and do the 80 hours a week thing. You will burn out. Try and get that balance as you scale.
Top tips from:
Precious Jason, founder of Etieno Skincare: Being in business you have superhero days and you have days which are not so great… Be kind to yourself.
Rebecca Slater, founder of Shine Creative Solutions: Believe in the idea you’ve got and to try and plan out the three most important things you need to get right.
Start-up Day 2018 was in collaboration with Santander. To see our events throughout the year, click here.
26 April 2018
April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day. “What?” I can hear you asking, why should there be a special day to celebrate Intellectual Property? Well, stop for a minute and take a look around you and I can guarantee that, whether you realise it or not, you will be surrounded by Intellectual Property.
Like the book you are reading (e-book or otherwise!), the iPod or MP3 player you are using to listen to music, the music itself, even the clothes you are wearing, every product or service we use in our day to day lives is the result of innovation. These innovations may be big improvements in function, or small changes in design that alter the way a product looks, either way these improvements will generally be protected by Intellectual Property (IP).
Intellectual Property (IP) is like any other piece of property and the owner of the Intellectual Property rights controls what, if anything, happens to those rights, including who can benefit from the work or from the investment the rights holder has made into the creation of the product or service.
So how does this affect you and your business?
Whatever business you are engaged in it is very likely that you are using and probably even creating a large amount of IP and, if you want to get the best possible commercial results from its ownership, you need to think about the steps you need to take to protect, manage and indeed enforce your rights.
- Protect – register your IP rights where possible.
- Manage – keep a record of all the IP you have and any IP that you license from third parties. Ensure renewal fees are paid and licenses are up-to-date.
- Enforce – as the rights holder it is your responsibility to keep an eye out for any IP infringement and to take action to stop it. If you do not intend to enforce your IP rights then perhaps you need to reconsider whether or not you should register your rights.
So let’s look at each form of IP in turn;
The first piece of registrable IP most businesses will have is a trade mark. Trade marks are used to indicate the origin of goods or services. They may be symbols, words, colours or even a combination of these, the choice is yours, but whatever the makeup of your trade mark it needs to be distinct enough to allow consumers to identify your products or services from those of your competitors.
As well as standard trade marks there are several other types of mark such as Collective marks, used to distinguish the goods and/or services of members of a particular association, or Certification marks, given for compliance with defined standards to anyone who is able to certify that their products meet certain standards e.g. ISO/TC 181 Safety of toys.
Trade marking is not to be approached lightly as your trade mark is likely to be one of your most valuable business assets.
Next, Copyright. Most of us when we think of copyright we think of books, music, films etc. but copyright will also exist in your website, the flyers or brochures you may produce for your business, the menus for your restaurant or café. All of these, provided they are your own original work or you have a license to use them if they were created by a third party, will be protectable.
Mark all of your original copyrighted material with the copyright symbol ©, the name of the rights holder and the year of creation, e.g. © British Library 2019.
If you are a designer then registered designs are probably something you should consider as registered designs protect what it is that makes an item attractive or appealing to its intended market. As the holder of the registered rights you will be assured an exclusive right to the design and thereby protection against unauthorised copying of the design by third parties.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. It provides patent rights holders with protection for their invention for a limited period, usually 20 years, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees. Having a patent for your invention means that your invention cannot be made commercially, or distributed or sold without your written permission. You get to decide who may or may not use the invention for the duration the period of protection. However, once the patent expires, after 20 years or if you stop paying the renewal fees, the invention will no longer be protected and will enter the public domain. Basically, it becomes available for anyone to use as they wish.
Probably lesser known, but just as important IP rights are Know How and Trade Secrets. Know How is the practical knowledge of how to do something, to get something done. This sort of knowledge will not necessarily be included in a patent for example, but will be necessary to finish the product, project or job. For examples of Trade Secrets; think of the Coca Cola recipe or the recipe for Irn Bru. These rights are not registrable and need to be protected using contracts and/or confidentiality agreements.
This post just touches on the subject of IP really as a way of highlighting World IP Day and anyone thinking of using IP or making any financially crucial or business crucial decisions based on IP should speak to an IP attorney. The website of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys can help you locate an attorney in you local area via their website. Most IP attorneys offer a free 30 minute one-to-one advice session.
Alternatively, you can visit your local Business & IP Centre for free, impartial, non-legal advice. Click here to see the full list of Centres around the country.
A final comment; innovation through the years has shaped the world we live in, from the simple hand cast nail invented more than 2,000 years ago to the invention of the wheel and the wheel and axle concept, from Gutenberg’s printing press to the telephone, the electric lamp to penicillin, all of these innovations have made our lives easier, better and more interesting and, hopefully, the inventors and innovators of our generation will continue the trend.
Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert
05 July 2017
So many small businesses lack IP awareness and understanding, but IP is something of an unsung hero and can prove critical in making or breaking a business.
The Business & IP Centre team are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and SMEs understand what IP is and why it’s important, what IP they might have created and how they might increase their business success and profitability by protecting and exploiting that IP in the future. Over the years the team have supported thousands of small businesses unlock the value of their IP, and much of the support we provide in the Centre uses case studies and real-life stories to demonstrate how having a handle on your IP gives you a huge commercial advantage.
One such example is Julie Deane OBE, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, who has taken her business from the kitchen table and a £600 start-up budget to a global success story with a turnover of £10 million. Along the way Julie has overcome numerous business challenges including managing designers, manufacturers and overseas distributors, establishing web and physical retail sites around the globe and dealing with thousands of imitator brands. Here, in a free 30 minute podcast with the Intellectual Property Office, Julie lays the truth bare on how she’s developed strategies to tackle copycat websites, build the brand, keep putting the quality of the product at the heart of the business and “hang on to the passion that made you start the business in the first place.”
Here are our 3 ‘top tips’ for what you need to know when it comes to your Intellectual Property:
- Think about trade marks - Is your business name protectable in the countries that you wish to trade? Is it already being used or does the word have another meaning in a different country. Future investors will want to know that you have the rights to trade in the countries that they wish to trade in, and you need to consider this right from the start to give your business the best chance of success.
- If you’re creating a ‘thing’ - Do your research before filing for a patent; is there a market for your product? It is expensive and takes a long time to protect your idea so make sure you do your market research and can be confident that somebody will buy it at the end of the day. If you have paid for your product to be patented and want somebody to manufacture it for you, you also need to ensure you have agreements in place limiting their rights to your initial idea or design.
- Founder’s agreement - It is easy to set out a document with your business partner right at the start when setting up your business agreeing things like % of ownership and what should happen in the case of a dispute, or if one of you wish to sell then business and the other one doesn’t. Once a dispute has started it is much harder and messier so you need to make sure all parties are clear on this from day one.
You can find further help, support and information on IP in any of the eleven Business & IP Centres up and down the country, including the British Library in King’s Cross. Speak to any one of our specialist staff face-to-face, over the phone or by email. You can also log on to our free of charge online workshops to grow your knowledge about IP, and increase your chances of business success.
Julie Deane is Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library and a huge champion for ambitious business owners. She recently gave advice and practical tips on Intellectual Property at the Library’s Scale-up Summit alongside Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycles. Cambridge Satchel and Brompton recently launched a range of colour-matching bags and bikes where the satchel fitted perfectly to the handlebars. This ‘made-in-heaven’ brand match caught the attention of the press and delivered extremely high sales. Will and Julie's opening keynote presentation on ‘Getting your business in the media’ was a great success too.
19 May 2016
On Saturday I visited Plumpton College near Lewes, for their annual open day. On display amongst the new-born lambs, Sussex wines, tractors and chainsaws was a stand for Kikka Digga. With my curiosity for all things new, I sauntered over and chatted to the demonstrator Nick Skaliotis. It turned out this was the very first public outing for the his new invention, which he claimed would make digging gardens significantly easier.
Mid-way through our conversation I asked if Nick had patented his invention, he looked more closely at me and said, "I know you". It turned out he has been a regular in the Business & IP Centre at the British Library. In addition to getting help with his patent from our wonderful Inventor in Residence Mark Shehean. He also attended several of our workshops including lean start-up webinar, social media for business and trade marks.
After hearing Nick’s story I just had to buy his product to see if it really did live up to his claims. Also, I hoped it would help me to avoid the lower back-pain I now get every time I dig over my vegetable patch.
As soon as I got home I took the two pieces of metal out of package and installed them onto my fork. This was as simple as the instructions indicated with just two items to clamp onto my fork.
As you can see from my photos below, I was able to dig over a small section of my very weedy heavy clay soil quickly and easily using Kikka Digga. And, even better, I had no twinges in my lower back afterwards. So I am definitely sold on the product.
I also like the name Kikka Digga, for being simple and memorable. And it has even more k’s than the legendary Kodak brand. George Eastman said about the letter k, “it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.” I am also glad to see that Nick has registered the name at the UK Intellectual Property Office.
I can’t wait to see how the gardeners of Great Britain take to this wonderful invention.
Kikka Digga newly assembled on my fork in seconds
My first few digs into my heavy clay soil are surprisingly easy
Misty is as impressed as I am by the speed and ease in digging up the plot.
By Neil Infield in the Business & IP Centre London team
05 June 2015
At the British Library’s Business & IP Centre we regularly work with start-up and growth businesses with a focus on all things design. I recently attended ‘I Knit Fandango' at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster, London, which is a huge knitting festival and market bursting with lots of beautiful yarns, fabulous fibre and amazing patterns. The vast majority of the exhibitors were small businesses. Most produced the yarn and designed the patterns they sold themselves.
I enjoyed talking to the exhibitors about knitting, a great passion of mine, and about their use of social media and intellectual property for their small businesses. However, I was surprised at the number of exhibitors who didn’t think intellectual property was relevant to them.
Intellectual Property, or IP, relates to creations of the mind such as inventions, music, poetry, paintings, books and designs etc., as well as the signs and symbols used by businesses to indicate the origin of their goods or services.
On a basic level, having a trade mark allows your customers to find you. Whether they are using the internet or social media or just walking the high street they can quickly identify who they are dealing with when looking for particular products or services. Having your trade mark on your website and any social media channels will allow customers to recognise and identify your brand with your products. As the reputation of your business grows so will the value of your trade mark.
Choosing a trade mark
How do you choose a trade mark? Well, that is very much a personal choice, but it is worth remembering that trade marks don’t have to be complicated. Take the image below:
It is instantly recognisable as the Nike tick or swoosh and is also recognisable regardless of the country the product is sold in; no words are necessary.
As rumour has it, the word ‘Kodak’ was devised by George Eastman and his mother mainly because the letter ‘K’ was Eastman’s favourite letter. Coined words, as they are known, have the advantage of being easy to protect due to their distinctiveness, but they may also need greater efforts to imprint them on the minds of consumers.
Creating a trade mark is no easy task and it is not helped by the fact that there are really no hard and fast rules as to what makes a successful trade mark. However there are some things you should bear in mind:
- Firstly, your trade mark has to meet all the legal requirements for trade mark registration in whatever jurisdiction you are intending to register it in.
- Secondly, your trade mark must be distinctive enough to be protectable and registrable with the relevant intellectual property office.
If you are using a text mark you might want to remember the following;
- Your trade mark should be easy to read and pronounce in all languages relevant to your market.
- Your trade mark should not have any adverse meaning in slang (in English or any other foreign language if you intend to trade abroad).
- Your trade mark should not create any confusion as to the nature of your product.
You can work with freelance designers or design companies to create your trade mark, but you need to ensure that all the intellectual property rights to the trade mark are assigned to you as otherwise they will remain with the person/company who created the mark, regardless of whether or not you paid for the service.
Register your trade mark
Once your trade mark is designed you will need to register it. I should say here that you don’t have to register your trade mark but having a registered mark gives you the right to sue anyone who infringes it and to prevent competitors from using/registering an identical or confusingly similar mark. For an unregistered trade mark you would have to rely on the common law of ‘passing off’ for protection and that can prove extremely difficult.
Registering a UK trade mark costs a minimum of £170 if you register online or £200 if you register on paper. Fees are not refundable and do not guarantee registration of your trade mark, so before you register you might want to:
1. Search to see if the trade mark you want to use is already in use
Although it is not requirement to filing an application, in the Business & IP Centre we would encourage you to search the free trade mark databases to see if any marks have already been registered that are similar to your mark. A list of the free search databases can be found and accessed via our website.
If someone else is using a similar trade mark to yours check whether it is being used in the same class of goods or services as yours. There are 45 classes of goods and services and it is possible for proprietors to have the same trade mark, provided they have registered their mark in different classes. An example would be “Polo” mints and “Polo” the Volkswagen car.
2. Think about it long term
Think about where you want your business to be in twelve months or in five years’ time. A trade mark lasts for ten years, and can be renewed every 10 years, so actually has the potential to last forever. When registering your mark you should take this into account, and include in your registration, all the classes that you intend to trade in within the following five years. Why five years if the trade mark lasts for ten? Well, if you do not start trading in all of the classes in which your mark is registered within five years of registration, opponents can apply to the Intellectual Property Office to have your trade mark revoked in the unused classes.
3. Don’t do it alone
Understanding how to protect your intellectual property can sometimes be a minefield. However, there are ways you can access free or low cost assistance to guide you through the process. If you need some help searching databases to see if your logo or a similar one already exists then come to the Business & IP Centre where our Information Specialists will be more than happy to guide you through the free trade mark search databases. We also offer a number of intellectual property and business workshops. Including:
- A Beginners Guide to IP
- Introduction to Trade Mark Searching
- Introducing Social Media for Small Businesses
For advice regarding the fees or the process of registration your should contact the Intellectual Property Office or for legal advice book yourself a free 30-minute advice session with a trade mark attorney in your local area via the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys website.
Is it worth it?
Many of the exhibitors I spoke with at ‘I Knit Fandango’ hadn’t thought of protecting their brands and one exhibitor even asked “Is it worth it?”. It is worth remembering that your trade mark or brand will be the most valuable piece of intellectual property you will have. This is because we, as consumers, buy into brands as these assure us of a certain level of quality or of service. When we find a brand we like we tend to stay loyal to it and it is the goodwill a company builds up under its brand that gives it its value.
At the Business & IP Centre we regularly help those who have unknowingly infringed another’s trade mark or who have had their trade marks stolen or used incorrectly. In order to protect your company’s identity – protect your trade mark from the start.
Maria Lampert, Information Expert at the British Library
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.
21 April 2015
Across the Business & IP Centre National Network, we believe it’s important for everyone to have a think about copying. We want individuals and businesses to know about their rights to use content and creations that are either in the public domain or under an open license - and to learn more about copyright generally. As we say in our intellectual property workshops make sure you “don’t infringe!”
Copy-right or copy-wrong?
We know that to copy something is wrong; it’s been ingrained in us since we were children - and as we grew up copying took the name of ‘plagiarism’. Whether your interests are listening to music, appreciating artwork, watching films or TV series, we know copying a song, a film or a TV show without permission is wrong. Every time we watch a DVD we are told that copying the DVD is piracy. Websites are often closed down because of infringement of copyright – is the right given to creators or owners of the intellectual property to control what is done with their works and YouTube videos are removed. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were more talked about for being found guilty by a US court of copying the late Marvin Gaye’s songs than for their musical talent (the court did not make any comments on the latter).
And yet, I copy. Yes. You do too. We all copy. As you can imagine, I would never admit to doing anything illegal and I am certainly not accusing you, of committing any crimes either! That must mean there are cases where copying is right, legal and even encouraged. For example, you buy a CD, then copy it onto your computer, then copy all the tracks again on your MP3 player so you can listen to the album on the go. That is perfectly legal - and it has been very clearly so in the UK since the last changes to copyright law came into force in November 2014. So let’s see what the law does allow.
When it is legal to copy
- Copyright does not last forever - even though new laws can change its duration, copyright has an end – in most cases, count 70 years after the end of the year in which the work’s creator died. What happens to the work after that? It enters the public domain – it belongs to everyone, and anyone can use it, without asking permission.
- Copyright exceptions - the law recognises that there are cases when we do not need to ask for permission to re-use a work. For example, when we make a copy for private use (like with our CD), or we copy and publish an extract for review purposes, or when creating a parody of a famous picture by copying it and adding something humorous to it.
- Open licenses - sometimes the copyright owner will publish their work and tell you it is fine for you to copy it without asking for their permission. The most common way to do this is to use Creative Commons licenses – like the ones on the pictures illustrating this post. CC BY-SA on the image below means “this work is licensed under a Creative Commons license; you can use it without asking for permission as long as you credit the author and share it under the same license”.
Copying, business and innovation
But let’s get back to business. How does all this apply to you as an entrepreneur? When you create something, you are proud of its originality and inventiveness (and rightly so); you would be horrified if someone copied you. In business, entrepreneurs legitimately want to stop others from copying them: if a competitor copies your unique selling point, then how are you going to differentiate yourself in the market? In the Business & IP Centre Network and the other PATLIB centres you can discuss with an adviser how best to protect your creations against copying. We will tell you all about copyright, but also designs, patents and trademarks.
Some large companies, like Dyson, have an impressive intellectual property strategy to protect their ideas. However, other companies like the one behind the Sriracha sauce has a more lenient strategy and encourages others to use their product name in order to generate free advertising and from a Forbes article, Elon Musk recently announced that other companies are now welcome to copy and use Tesla’s patented technology. Each company needs to think about what is the right approach for their business.
There are also industries that thrive on a type of copying – one that is called “inspiration”. Think about fashion, music, art, etc. It poses some pertinent questions for business owners; how would you react to another business copying you? Would your reaction be different if you were copied by individuals? Do you think people who copy and share your content on social networks without your permission are right, or wrong? This World Intellectual Property Day take the opportunity to get informed and discuss the role of intellectual property to encourage and control innovation and enterprise in your business.
Aude Charillon on behalf of the Business & IP Centre Newcastle
Aude is Library and Information Officer at the Business & IP Centre Newcastle and leads the Commons are Forever project, which aims to empower participants about our rights to use creative works that are free of copyright, and to in turn share what we create with others.
30 January 2015
It is said that 'The meek shall inherit the Earth', but for now it's the inherently rich and shrewd.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) include patent, registered or unregistered trademarks, design rights, copyright, or more commonly a strategic combination of each. Protecting your intangible assets can be as rewarding as protecting your physical property, but it can be a complex and expensive job to secure, maintain and defend them. Therefore it is important to remember that you may not have to keep your idea or product secret in order to protect it - there are other formal ways to do it.
The key is to get impartial professional advice early on and formulate an IPR strategy. I clearly remember my confused state, of trying to understand all the processes involved (not just on IPR protection, but the inventing business in general). The learning curve was enough to drive me mad, although I do say 'The nearer to insanity I get, the better I invent' - the trick is getting back!
Getting into the nitty-gritty world of how to protect your invention with a patent, with some do's, don'ts and tips on IPR's that I have learnt, sometimes the hard way.
Patenting steps - do's and don'ts
- To patent something it needs an inventive step, never to be thought of before anywhere in the world ever and something that someone schooled in the art would not have thought of.
- Do have a professional patent search carried out at the British Library Business & IP Centre. The 'new' part I mentioned earlier is important, before spending significant amounts of time and money on the idea, only to find it has been done before and is protected or is in the public domain already greatly weakening your position.
- Don't disclose your invention to anyone without protecting any protectable IPR's first or get them to sign a confidentiality agreement. If not, it may prevent you from obtaining a patent later.
- Don't write a patent yourself. It may save money, but it is a false economy. If your idea is a success, you will regret the day you did that. Ifyou intend to licence, sell outright or defend the invention you will look amateurish when the patent is reviewed. And, more critically, you may have left something important out, or worded something wrong, making it vulnerable (easier to get around). Remember, a patent can be the most valuable asset a company owns. Poorly written and all could be lost.
- You have twelve months, from filing a patent application, to file foreign applications. At that point, do your homework, to get the broadest country’s protection (on where the product will be sold and manufactured) at the lowest cost possible. You can do this in the Business & IP Centre London or in one of the National Centres. The trick is to know your market, so it may be possible to file in the smallest number of countries to cover most of it (note, you can delay this stage by eighteen months using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)).
- If you have kept your invention secret, within the twelve month period from filing the application, you can withdraw the application and re-file, but note, you lose the original priority date and risk that someone filed something similar in that lost period.
- I tend to keep things secret and file the patent application late. I do this because if you are still developing the idea, it could be very different after the twelve months, so might need significant changes or a total rewrite.
Using the British Library
As a regular user of the British Library facilities, for research and patents information, in the past and being their first ever 'Inventor in Residence', I offer free one-to-one hour long confidential meetings, called 'ask an expert'. It is disturbing and frustrating to commonly see, the ownership of great ideas slip through the inventor's fingers, because they made it public before protecting it (frequently with university student projects), or got misdirected and over charged by a so called professional Patent Attorney.
Mark Sheahan, 'Inventor in Residence' for the British Library, President of the 'Institute of Patentees and Inventors', a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Vice Chairman of the 'Round table of Inventors'.
Innovation and enterprise blog recent posts
- A week in the life of Edward Draper, founder of Ortheia
- Seven female patent pioneers you should know
- A week in the life of… Peter Hill, founder of Petvictus
- Meet Sol Ramos, co-founder of London Basketball Nation and Start-ups in London Libraries participant
- The beer lover’s guide to the perfect IP brew
- Meet Ahmad Baracat, founder of Baracat Bros and Start-ups in London Libraries participant
- A week in the life of… Rachel Jones, founder of SnapDragon Monitoring
- Meet Salma Attan, founder of Bushwood Bees and Start-ups in London Libraries participant
- Happy Birthday Start-ups in London Libraries!
- Book and podcast recommendations from the BIPC team