In through the outfield blog

24 posts from June 2010

29 June 2010

Still some tickets left for the Power of Social Media event

Our rescheduled event on Thursday, The power of social media still still has a few tickets left if you are quick.

The age of the social-media entrepreneur has arrived. So whether you have a business idea for a new online community or want practical advice on deploying Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to access your target market, this will be an invaluable evening.

Sarah BeenySarah Beeny is a Channel 4 television presenter and entrepreneur. As well as being a well established property mogul Sarah also owns social dating website, has written numerous books, and has recently launched, her new free-to-use property website.

Will King, founder of shaving brand King of Shaves,, went from a career in sales and marketing to starting his own business. The King of Shaves brand has overtaken Wilkinson Sword and Nivea to become number two to Gillette in the shaving prep market in the UK, and the products are also taking off in the USA where they are now being sold in over 20,000 stores.

Shaa WasmundShaa Wasmund launched in 2009: an innovative business platform providing free advice, networking and tools for entrepreneurs and business owners. Bringing business people together for support and inspiration, Smarta has hundreds of entrepreneur videos and bite-size guides on overcoming business challenges.

Moderator: Guy Levine is founder and CEO of Return On Digital, a leading digital marketing agency. With a history of successful dot com start-ups and an impressive global client list, he has digital running through his veins.
Event details

Who should attend? Entrepreneurs and small businesses
Place: British Library Conference Centre
Cost: £10.00 (concessions £7.50)
How to Book: To book, contact our Box Office on tel: 01937 546546 or book your tickets online
Event dates Thu 01 July 2010, 18.15 – 21.00

28 June 2010

Green Britain Day and my lunch-time Prêt bag

Pret bag 12 March 2010I’m a bit late in covering Green Britain Day, but like to feel I have been doing my bit over the last few months.

In particular I am somewhat proud of my recycling (re-using to be more accurate) of my daily lunch-time Prêt A Manger bag. I’ve just retired the bag on the left which I have been using since early March. I estimate the saving is approximately 75 bags so far, which isn’t bad going. In doing so I have also gained something of a reputation at my local Prêt as the ‘bag man’. And on occasion my efforts have been rewarded with a free coffee from one of their lovely staff.

Some of the them have said they think Prêt should offer some kind of incentive for regular customers to re-use their bags.

As is so often the way, Britain lags behind the rest of Europe in ‘greenness’, so I have included a link to how the Dutch recycle, and what we can learn from them.

Free broker research reports on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues

London AccordHaving worked in the City of London for many years, I was somewhat surprised to discover that financial institutions are now giving away their highly valued stockbrokers reports
Needless to say they aren’t giving everything out, but through the The London Accord, you can get access to nearly 100 reports on a range of green and ethical related topics.
Welcome to the London Accord
The London Accord presents a compendium of reports, written by a range of financial services firms, providing insight into issues ranging from renewable energy to the price of carbon.

The financial services industry produces pertinent and valuable research which could, and should, be used by policy makers and NGOs who are shaping society’s response to long-term issues such as climate change and global pandemics. However, much of this research only sees the desks of a select few and all too soon disappears into the filing systems and cupboards of the commercial sector.

The London Accord allows access to this research free of charge – offering policy makers an insight which they may not otherwise access and giving the financial services industry a way of engaging with society on long-term issues. The London Accord is simple, get more recognition and value from research by sharing what you are about to archive.

22 June 2010

Anthony Lau presents our new virtual tour of the Business & IP Centre

I've already written about Anthony Lau and his Cyclehoop success story. He kindly agreed to be filmed for our latest video which is something of a virtual tour of the Business & IP Centre.

Anthony goes from locking his bike onto one of his award-winning Cyclehoops, to crossing our rather intimidating piazza and then on to register for a free reader's pass for The British Library. He then explores the Centre itself and talks about the range of information and services we offer.

I was asked to be an extra during the filming, but only my elbow seems to have made it into the final cut.

I would be interested to know how useful you think the video is.

New patent classifications for clean energy

The European Patent Office on the 9 June added new classification areas to its ECLA scheme.

ECLA is a more detailed variant of the commonly used International Patent Classification (IPC). The IPC classes are printed on published patent specifications, and can be searched for on databases.

The ECLAs add extra detail in the classification but are only used, generally, for patent specifications from the USA, European countries and the PCT (the so-called World patent). Hence the Far East, for example, is left out unless the invention appears in one of those schemes.

ECLA apparently wasn't thought to be giving enough detail for clean energy technologies. There has been for some time also Y01N, nano technology. Now there are two broad class areas, Y02C, which is for the capture of greenhouse gases, and Y02E, "reduction of greenhouse gases emission, related to energy generation, transmission or distribution".

These classes can be explored by clicking on the relevant classes and drilling down into more detail. Hence batteries specially adapted for vehicles are at Y02E70/42, which is found by clicking on the little box next to the class and then clicking Copy. This transfers the class to a search screen. In this case there were 286 results. These new classes offer a lot of interest to those who want to browse through interesting green inventions.

I suspect the reason why these classes are put in Y, well away from the  normal A to H sequence of classes, is that the Y classes are extra classes that can be added to records to highlight material of special interest. Novelty -- is an invention actually new -- is dealt with by the more detailed classes in the normal sequence.

16 June 2010

Apple's Touch sensor and solar assembly patent application

Apple keeps on coming out with interesting patent applications. I am indebted to the free newspaper Metro on the 14 June for an item titled "Apple eyes the power of the sun" (a title which somehow changed in the Web version).

It concerns a patent application published in April called Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly. The solar cell "stack-ups" are integral with the touch sensor, so the same area is used to recharge the media player or phone. The same area can also be used for optical sensing.

The smaller devices get, the less area that is available for solar cells, so this sounds like a great advance, provided of course that the device is given an opportunity to charge up. The article quotes Flora Graham, mobile phone editor at website CNET, as saying "the problem with solar charging is that it takes a long time and we have relatively little sunshine in the UK". The article speculates that the new iPhone 4, with a glass back, may pave the way for the solar panels. My impression was that the solar panels would be on the other side, where the user selects the applications. Using that side also makes it more likely that the device will pick up the solar energy in the first place.

The patent application has 26 pages including 17 pages of technical drawings offering lots of detail. It's a pity that the article didn't mention how to find it, such as quoting its published number (US 2010/0078230). The Imjustcreative site reproduces a couple of drawings from the patent application.

15 June 2010

Intellectual Property: A Success Story To Be Extended?

real time club

I’ve just been reminded of one of my  more scary speaking engagements of recent times. It was back in January 2009 at the invitation of Professor Michael Mainelli, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce at Gresham College.

It was at the Real Time Club. Founded in 1967, the Real Time Club is believed to be the world’s oldest IT dining Club. The Club is dedicated to participative events that provide “rapid responses to the challenges of the information society”.

My fellow speakers were:
Professor Ian Angel
, who is Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics and also Chairman of Creative Commons (England and Wales).
David Bunting, who is CEO of Trevor Baylis Brands plc (a company which he setup with Trevor Baylis), which provides route-to-market services for inventors and entrepreneurs. David is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a Fellow of the CMA,
Richard Overden, who is an Associate Director of Oxford University’s Bodlian Library and Keeper of Special Collections. Prior to that he worked at Durham University Library, the House of Lords Library, and at the University of Edinburgh.
Tony Pluckrose, who is a Partner at Boult Wade Tennant and also a Chartered and European Patent Attorney.

Here is a brief report from the evening:

Some 40 members and guests of the Real Time Club attended the first dinner of 2009 to debate the subject of: “Intellectual Property: A Success Story to be Extended? Just Desserts or Global Gridlock?” The Chairman, Mark Holford welcomed the guests and then handed over to the evening’s host, Professor Michael Mainelli, who is also the club’s Vice President.

The format of the evening was a brief (three minute) statement by each of the panel of speakers, followed by a lively and challenging debate, to which everyone present made a contribution.

The introductory sessions posed a series of challenges. These included:

* “Is Intellectual Property protection being mis-sold?” Inventors often do not understand patent protection – they have a great idea, talk about it in the pub, and don’t realize that by doing so they have already exposed it to the public. Their problem is the extent to which they dare tell people what they are doing. They think that a patent will give them protection, even if the idea has been put into the public domain, and defending a patent is very expensive. What they should do is think like an entrepreneur, by keeping quiet, building a product, and once it is built patent it and sell it to a large corporation.

* The second challenge was the unreasonableness of traditional copyright law: “Is it right that I should be charged $500 in Las Vegas to use 30 seconds of Ella Fitzgerald in a presentation?”

* The third challenge was the fairness of current practice – monopoly rights that are given by governments in the form of patents should be properly categorized and reasonably charged; if they are not, it will stifle inventiveness.

* We then moved into the realm of science fiction and considered the Star Trek replicator, which is fast becoming science fact, since replication costs are negligible. Why shouldn’t we generate an idea, create value, and then make it freely available? Don’t we have a moral imperative to do this? After all, multiple people possess an idea – it is rather arbitrary that the first person who patents the idea owns it. Replication is now also now a major part of the librarian’s job; because of digitization, librarians have progressed from being curators of knowledge within a specific location to providers of digital representation on a global scale. And relationships with companies like Google introduce commercial, as well as engineering, considerations.

* The final contribution to the introductory session was the differences between USA and European IP law. In the past the USA has granted patents relatively freely (as in the case of State Street Bank), whereas Europe has been tougher (as in the case of Symbian). The USA has now resiled, and the high tide has passed and is now receding, But although patents are harder to get, they are still being granted when they shouldn’t be. The issues are cost and complexity, including the expense of challenging patent rights.

14 June 2010

How to Write and Publish Your Book in 5 Easy Steps

the-book-midwifeOn Friday I attended one of our partners workshops called Get Published Now – How to Write and Publish Your Book in 5 Easy Steps.

The presenter was author and trainer Mindy Gibbins-Klein who also goes under the name The Book Midwife, which is a great marketing angle. And like all good entrepreneurs, Mindy has registered the trade mark at the UKIPO (number 2399080)

She started the session by asking the group what book they were planning on writing. This led to the conclusion that as we all have unique experiences, and unique insights on those experiences, we all have something to write about that could be of interest to others.

For those who have decided to write a book, Mindy’s aim is to help them write and publish the best book they can, whilst also finding the biggest market for it.

your-book-in-100-daysIt was a great workshop, full of practical and inspirational elements. It was encouraging to hear that so many authors procrastinate over their books (particularly their first). In Mindy’s case it had taken her ten years from first starting to getting into print, and this is not unusual. She reviewed the common reasons for failing to finish a book. The most popular is the author’s inability to finish the final chapter or even last few pages. This is often due to a fear of ridicule or rejection from friends and colleagues (and potential publishers) of the finished work.

It is somewhat ironic that so many books take so long to finish, as apparently the whole thing could be finishes in as little as 100 days. In fact Mindy has published her own book (with Bert Verdonck) called ‘Your Book in 100 Days’.

Mindy brought along some great examples of books with a clear title and simple but attractive covers to illustrate how important this aspect of your book can be on sales. It reminded me of Brad Burton’s book, given to me at the last Business Start-Up show in November. It’s called ‘Get off your Arse’, and tells his story of starting up in business, as well as being designed to inspire others to get off their bottoms, and follow their own dream.

brad-burton-arseIt turns out that Mindy helped Brad get this book published in ninety days, after several previous false starts. I should point out that although I read the book with the intention of reviewing it here, the language and style of writing he used rather put me off. Perhaps working at the library has turned me into a literary snob. I suggest you make up your own mind and let me know what you think.

Here are my notes from the excellent workshop:

Reasons to Write and Publish a Book

These divide into emotional drivers or outcomes (such as money or status) or a combination of the two. It is helpful to know what yours are before you start.

There are 5 Easy Steps which must be completed thoroughly, and in strict order

1. Planning
2. Writing
3. Editing
4. Publishing
5. Promotion

100 hours should be enough time to go through these stages. Although most people take 200 hours, and spread them through several years.

An average book is around 50,000 words which equals around 150 pages. Researching a subject can add time to the process.

Sales of 20,000 copies is a realistic target for success. Very few authors sell more.

Three main publishing options

           Traditional               Cooperative            Self-Publishing (you do it all yourself)

Time 12-18 months              3 months                     2 to 3 months

Financial no author inv.        £1,000 to £5,000         £1,000 to £5,000

Control publisher                      author                          author

Rights they keep                    you keep                     you keep

Likelihood of 1%                 100%                           100%
being published

Traditional model

£10 book – publisher takes £6, from remaining £4, author gets around 20p·
You will be very lucky to find a publisher


£10 book – printing £2.50, shop takes £6.00 leaving £1.50 for author
Are you prepared for all the leg-work involved in finding editors, printers and promoters?

Cooperative Publishing

£10 book – pay 80p royalty for publishing and distribution – author buys £4.50 each for their own use.

· Hybrid ‘best of both worlds’, full turnkey solution
· Keep control and rights
· Low cost of entry
· Timescales similar to self-publishing


It is very difficult to do on your own. Get input from someone you trust.
A lot of people start with their stories which is a mistake.
According to Mindy there is no such thing as writers block – It’s Official: Writer’s Block is a Myth.

Writing tips

· Be yourself – don’t edit yourself as you go along – save that to later when you have finished your first draft (ideally).

Editing is essential

But make sure you save this activity to the end, when you have finished your first draft.

People do judge a book by its cover

Make sure your cover is exiting and relevant

Promoting your book

Too many authors think their work is done once the book is written.
Mindy suggests two to four hours a week of promotional activities after it is published.