In through the outfield blog

18 posts from October 2008

31 October 2008

Amos Joel, pioneer in mobile phones

I was reading the obituary column in today's Daily Telegraph when I came across the obituary of Amos Joel, an inventor for Bell Telephone. He was 90 years old.

Newspaper obituaries for inventors aren't all that unusual, but this one actually mentioned the number of his key patent, 3663762 (didn't say it was American, but I suppose most readers would read between the lines).

His Mobile Communication System patent, applied for as long ago as 1970, was apparently key in preparing the groundwork for mobile phones / cell phones. Here is the main drawing.

Mobile phone patent 

Without it, the article says, mobile phone users would not be able to keep talking in a call if they moved between the hexagonal cells of the phone network. The patent's own summary says "A control center determines mobile station locations and enables a switching center to control dual access trunk circuitry to transfer an existing mobile station communication path from a formerly occupied cell to a new cell location. The switching center subsequently enables the dual access trunk to release the call connection to the formerly occupied cell."

It's good to see an inventor who made an important contribution credited in this way.

Patent myths

Warning Many of the clients I meet who have invented something new have a basic misunderstanding of the power of a patent.

They believe that once they go through the time consuming (and potentialy expensive) UK patent process. Their intellectual property is fully and automatically protected. I have to explain to them that the UKIPO (previously the Patent Office) does not act as an IP police force, they just decide who gets a patent.

In their latest IP Insight article (link) Simon Crossley, technology partner at Eversheds LLP law firm in Cambridge, explains the steps inventors need to employ to protect the commercial content of their ideas.

One of the key activities is to watch the market for infringements.

“You might as well forget about your IP, if you ignore what everyone else is doing in your market and let the unscrupulous trample on your rights. In the same way as you watch your competitors’ marketing strategy and product development, you should think about whether anyone is misusing your rights, swiping your inventions or lifting your software.

If they are sticking your brand on a product, that is easy to point out. In a complex piece of technology, it can be harder to prove that your IP is being abused. But without proof, you are not going to get any sort of remedy.”

Trick or treat board game

Halloween is tonight, so here's a board game that all the family can play, the Halloween board game by Cyrilla Pecoy of New York state. The players simulate a trip around their neighbourhood gathering goodies -- including a visit to the cemetery and a haunted house.  Trickortreatboardgame 

Last year I also posted on Halloween patents. Enjoy your evening !

29 October 2008

Web 2.0 Made Easy

I greatly enjoyed our Web 2.0 Made Easy event this evening. We had a full house with over 60 enthusiastic visitors, all wanting to learn more about this important topic for small businesses.

Jude-habib The presenter Jude Habib from Sound Delivery said she wanted the event to be informal, and that was certainly what she got, with a stream of questions varying from ‘what is a blog’ to ‘how do you get sponsorship for your podcast’.

There were so many questions that Jude barely made it through her excellent slides before closing time at the Library. There was some pretty intensive networking going on as the audience was on their way out of the building.

There was a great deal of demand to run another event covering the topic, and a lot of interest in the all day event An Introduction to Social Media for Business on 14 November.

Web2 I thought this slide was an excellent way of reviewing wether you (or your organisation) are ready to engage with social media technologies.

It is important to be aware of the democratic nature of Web 2.0, including the ability of your customers to post negative comments.

28 October 2008

Children run riot at the British Library

BigPicturePartyImage  Today was definitely children’s day at the British Library with literally hundreds coming in (with their parents) to the Big Picture Party. The day was to celebrate the value of the picture book in encouraging family learning, reading, creativity and enjoyment.

I am sure having well-loved children’s illustrator Quentin Blake in attendance was a big factor. He gave a talk on the importance of illustration and picture books. He also referred to his plans to create the UK’s first centre dedicated to illustration, the House of Illustration, due to open in late 2011.

I was on an all day course getting to know the Business & IP Centre partners, but managed to pop out for a few minutes at lunchtime to see the throngs of happy children.

Quentin_Blake Not all of the adults were so happy, and apparently there were quite a few complaints from our more traditional (and elderly) visitors who think the ’silence is golden rule’ should be applied to all parts of the British Library. I suspect they would also be fans of the 15th Century proverb ‘children should be seen but not heard’.


27 October 2008

Gunther von Hagens and plastination

Dr Gunther von Hagens has been touring with his exhibition of "plastinated" bodies. These are corpses which are preserved permanently with the skin removed and the tissues filled with plastic. Some people may find it fascinating to see the muscles and so on below the skin of complete bodies. I declined to see it  when it was last in London, in 2003. It's certainly ideal for medical students.

Now it's back for a second visit. This is the BodyWorlds exhibition which runs to the end of March 2009. As ever, I wondered if patents were involved. There seem to be a number of patents, with the one illustrated being the one that gives the best idea of what we are talking about.


It is from his Method for Preserving Large Sections of Biological Tissue with Polymers. There's plenty of detail for anyone interested in knowing more in the patent specification.

Getting under the skin

Each month I write a Patent of the Month story for the Ideas21 website.

This October, it's about injecting tracking devices into potential kidnap victims.

25 October 2008

An encounter with an urban fox outside the British Library

Urbanfox After my recent blogs about the variety of wildlife in my home location, varying from deer in my garden to the Beast of Balcombe, you can imagine my surprise by my latest encounter in the heart of London.

I was rushing to catch my train at around 8.45pm after a late meeting with a Business & IP Clinic client. I had just left the staff exit of the British Library and was heading north along a busy Middlesex Street towards St Pancras station. Suddenly I was face to face with a large wild animal. After a second or two I realised it was a fox, and although it initially appeared to be as surprised as me (we were less than 10 feet apart), it soon recovered its composure. I last saw it slipping down into our disabled entrance and then swiftly out of sight.

I had a brief conversation with a fellow commuter behind me who had also seen the fox, but had to rush on for fear fo missing my train.

I shall certainly keep my eyes peeled for more wildlife sightings in future when I am venturing out after dark in London.