In through the outfield blog

14 posts from January 2010

29 January 2010

New survey of usage of patent information

A survey on the usage of patent information in Europe, by Motivaction and commissioned by the European Patent Office, was published in 2003. The report is available to read as Usage profiles of patent information among current and potential users.

This report provided the much quoted figure that 70% of European industry did not use patent information. A telephone survey was carried out in 30 European countries plus (as a control group) the USA, with 1904 companies, 443 attornies, and 29 universities being interviewed.

There are a lot of tables of data, mainly by country or by size of company, in the 102 page report. I did find much of the data, or rather the criteria used to collect them, hard to work out. See Table 6.2 on page 64, for example, on usage of free patent databases. I wondered how the actual people who were interviewed were selected, as many in a company would have little knowledge of, or dealings with, patent information.

This is rather important, as the Office has announced a new survey along the same grounds, which will be used to compare results. The rise of the Internet and of free data on it will of course mean higher usage of patent data. It is possible, however, that much of that use comes from seeing hits on Google rather than specialist databases such as those listed at our site, which is by no means comprehensive.

The Security Guard memory stick

A new type of memory stick (the flash memory device you can put in the USB port to transfer data to and from a PC) is available from today for £100 from ExactTrak, an Oxfordshire company.

It is the Secure storage device, and avoids the danger of data on the memory stick getting into the wrong hands. When, for example, a civil servant leaves it behind on the train inside a briefcase. Sensitive information may be contained in it.

If the memory stick is inserted in an unauthorised computer, or if a code is entered incorrectly, the stored memory self-destructs, just as in Mission Impossible. The memory can even be deleted remotely by using an encrypted text message. There is also GPS so that its location can be tracked to within 30 metres. The storage capacity is 32 GB.

The company says that there has been a lot of interest from government, banks and the NHS.

28 January 2010

The Apple i-pad

So, Apple finally unveiled their bigger than an i-pod, smaller than a laptop computer, the i-pad. Some sites on the Web speculated that the Method, system and graphical user interface for selecting a soft keyboard was the key patent, and I suspect that they are right. It certainly includes some attractive drawings, such as this one.

Apple i-pad patent drawing

The product includes many concepts covered in previous patents, of course. Many involve touch screens, as in this list of 57 World applications by Apple since 2006.

[Internet sources suggest that their Proximity detector in handheld device, which dates back to 2004, is highly relevant. That is relevant to both the i-pod with its wheel and to the i-pad -- 4 June 2010]

21 January 2010

How to pitch your business

Irene Bejenke WalshFor any of you who have watched entrepreneurs pitching their business on the BBC’s  DragonsDen (or even better the Harry Enfield spoof version below), I’m sure you will agree it is often too painful to bear.

Fortunately we are introducing a workshop in the Business & IP Centre on this scary topic called the investor pitch, on Monday 25 January, and Monday 22 February 2010.

In this interactive workshop, participants will learn about the content of investor presentations as well as how to deliver effective pitches.

Specifically, the following topics will be covered:

• What are investors looking for?
• Targeting different investor audiences
• How to turn your business plan into an investor presentation that will make an impact
• Content of an investor presentation
• Individual presentation skills & delivery
• Pitching formats
• The perfect elevator pitch
• Creating rapport & trust with investors
• Live pitches & feedback

Having met the presenter Irene Bejenke-Walsh, founder of MessageLab, I am confident attendees will be in good hands. She has been coaching entrepreneurs and management teams for investor presentations and pitches for more than a decade. Her clients include the UK’s largest Business Angel network, London Business Angels, where she has coached more than 300 entrepreneurs pitching to the network in a real life “Dragon’s Den”, contributing to an increase in investment rates of over 30%. She also coaches early-stage companies entering the London Technology Fund competition as well as many small and large businesses seeking investment.

20 January 2010

Cadbury and its trade marks

Cadbury may have fallen to Kraft, but its valuable trade marks for chocolate -- probably worth much more than its factories and other assets -- will live on.

British national trade marks can be identified by proprietor on the official database. It can only be searched for the beginning of the owner name, and will provide a list of possible owners with separate listings. A search on it cannot be combined with the main database for searching by words and/ or images.

This provides a list of the UK registrations for Cadbury (it omits those filed through the international Community or Madrid systems). Some of these are not well known. They include the once famous Fry's "Five Boys" trade mark, which belongs to the company as they took over Fry's, a rival company, in 1919. It dates back to 1904.

Fry'sFive boystrade mark

The idea is that, from left to right, the initially unhappy boy gets his chocolate and then is pleased, having eaten the product.  

More familiar is Cadbury's Creme Egg® packaging from 1994:

 Cadbury's creme egg trade mark 

Increasingly, as the years went by, the registrations were for the words and images on the wrapping and would include the word "Cadbury". Those with images as well as a word are designated as DW in the listing as opposed to WO, for word only trade marks. Purple was also increasingly used across their products. So much so that they have registered the colour purple for chocolate packaging in their British trade mark 2126301, registered in 1999, as shown below.

Colour purple trade mark by Cadbury's 

This final one is unfamiliar to me and dates from 2003. The product is certainly well dressed.

Cadbury Whole Nut trade mark

Tech support cheat sheet for non-techies

Just because I have a degree in computer science (health warning it was in 1984 when Turbo Pascal was all the rage), various relatives and friends think I have a magical ability to solve all computer problems.

Having wasted far too many hours grappling with various computer ‘challenges’ over the years, I was intrigued to be shown this catch all solution from xkcd by a friend who does know his IT onions.

I think it is great that the answer to almost any IT problem is out there on the internet, and all you have to do is find it.

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

The Web in Feb from the Business & IP Centre

My colleagues in Business Marketing have come up with a programme of events for next month called Web in Feb.

The event is part of ‘Getting British Business Online’, which aims to get 100,000 businesses online in 2010.

Our programme of events will help you to:
1. Navigate the world of social media and make it work for you
2. Get your site noticed by Google and increase your traffic
3. Write a blog, record a podcast, set up a website
4. Avoid the legal pitfalls of doing business online
5. Translate the jargon and gain the confidence to use the web effectively.

More details:

Week 1
Building an outstanding online brand
Thursday 4 February, 14.00 – 17.00, £35 +VAT
Azright’s Solicitors

Week 2
Email marketing for small business
Tuesday 9 February, 10.00, 14.00, £39 +VAT

Open evening – Web 2.0 made easy
Tuesday 9 February, 18.00 – 20.00, free
British Library

Copyright for designers
Thursday 11 February, 10.00 – 12.00, free
British Library

Social media for business
Thursday 11 February, 14.00 – 17.00, £45 +VAT

Week 3
Copyright, trademarks and digital media: understanding your rights
Wednesday 17 February, 10.00 – 12.00, £20 +VAT

E-commerce: a guide to conducting business online
Wednesday 17 February, 14.00 – 17.00, £20 +VAT
Marriott Harrison

Week 4
Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening
Tuesday 23 February, 18.00 – 20.00, free
British Library

Privacy policy and data protection
Wednesday 24 February, 14.00 – 16.00, £10 +VAT
Keystone Law

Build your own blog or website in WordPress
Thursday 25 February, 10.00 – 17.00, £145
Women Unlimited

Booking details

Revised patent fees at the UK IPO

The UK IPO has announced a revised fee structure for patent applications from the 6 April 2010.

At present there are three fees payable to achieve a granted UK patent: filing, search, and examination [of the results from the search]. The cost is £200 in all but if electronic means only are used the discounts mean £170 is payable.

The new structure means the cost is £280 but if electronic means only are used the discounts mean £230 is payable.

A new charge of £350 is payable if the proceedings are contested [by another party objecting to the grant].

The annual renewal fees to keep the patent in force for its full term are also going up. At present the total fees amount to £3310. They are rising to £4550, an increase of 37%. The IPO policy has always been to subsidise the application process from the renewal fees. The idea is to encourage applications while deriving money from those with profitable inventions, who will pay the renewal fees.

The IPO response to the consultation gives an idea of the comments made in reply by 33 people or organisations, and the reasoning behind the new structure. It is interesting that of the 33, only 5 were patent attorneys, while most of the rest were university-level institutions. I would have expected a good response from industrial companies.