In through the outfield blog

16 posts from October 2011

31 October 2011

Visit to the British Invention Show 2011

British_Invention_Show_logoAfter a couple of years absence I decided to re-visit the British Invention Show (BIS). For this year they had moved from the echoing halls of Ally Pally in north London, to the recently revamped Spitalfields market in east London.

For sixteen years Spitalfields  had been my regular lunchtime haunt, so I was curious to see how much it had changed since its rebuilding. The area now consists of a mixture of shiny new office buildings, trendy boutique stores and restaurants, as well as the traditional brick-a-brack and jewellery market stalls based in the old food market. The visit got off to an expensive start when allowed myself to be lured into a branch of Montezuma’s  chocolate shop and purchase a bar of Brighton’s best ethical chocolate ginger.

The British Invention Show exhibition space had been built underneath the market hall and was smaller than I was expecting. However, once inside the material ‘roof’ meant you forgot about the market outside and concentrated on the exhibiting stands.

As in previous years the number of British inventors was really quite small, compared to those from abroad, especially from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. There were even a few from Iran.

However, as in the past there were still a few exhibitors who made the trip worthwhile for me.

An additional incentive for going along was an opportunity to meet Tara Roskell writes two excellent blogs – graphic design blog and Ideas Uploaded, about inventing and licensing. She interviewed me December last year, so it was nice to finally get to meet her in person. We teamed up to question the more interesting inventors at the show, and you can read her critical review of the exhibition (British Invention Show 2011 Hit or Miss).

MIBA_barcelona_logoFirst on the list was a set of intriguing ‘inventions’ from the Museum of Ideas & Inventions Barcelona (MIBA). These included:
-    A dining plate with a mirror in the middle (to help those on a diet)
-    Fluorescent dog biscuits (to help pedestrians avoid putting a foot wrong in the dog poo blighted streets of Barcelona)
-    A floor mop with a built in microphone (for those ‘X-factor’ moments while washing the floor)
-    A single bed with a ‘home and away’ score board (unknown dubious purpose)


It turned out that many of these wacky inventions were the brainchild of famous Spanish designer and promoter Pep Torres. They are not intended for production but to stimulate visitors to be creative themselves. Children who visit the museum are encouraged to draw their inventions, and each month the best ones are awarded a patent by the Spanish patent office.

Our guide to the MIBA stand – something of a miniature version of the museum located in central Barcelona, was passionate about this new venture. And explained each of the real and imaginary inventions with great enthusiasm (with the notable exception of the Single Bed which she seemed rather embarrassed about).

As Tara and I were leaving she offered us a red pill from a large glass bowl. I assumed this was the traditional exhibition freebie sweet, so was rather surprised when she stopped me swallowing, it and insisted I open it up to reveal a rolled up paper business card.

She responded to our puzzled expressions by referring to the famous scene in the Matrix film; After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Freedman_chairThe other highlight for me was meeting the enthusiastic inventor of the  FreedMan Chair – Simon Freedman.

He is an osteopath by profession and and has spent many years and even more prototypes developing his unique solution to lower back pain.

I have to admit it does look a bit weird, but having never regreted spending £800 on Scandinavia’s finest ergonomic seating in the shape of an RH Logic 400 over ten years ago, any chair that relieves back pain is worth investigating.

Simon explained that his seat does not need cushions because we all come equiped with inbuilt human cushioning

The concavity of the FreedMan seat pads provides support around the ischial tuberosities in such a way that the need for padding is reduced and even eliminated.

Located around the tuberosities are the ischial fat pads and further out are the buttock muscles. The concavity of the seat pads around the tuberosities supports these structures and hence the body provides its own cushioning. In chairs with flat seat pads, the pointy tuberosities push through the surrounding layers, which soon causes discomfort.

You can read much more technical information about the development of the FreedMan Chair on his website.

It was great to hear that Simon is a fan of the Business & IP Centre and has been a regular visitor as his chair developed.

I look forward to hearing much more about this exciting re-invention of the chair.

Apple Cafe trade mark dispute in Germany

Today's free Metro newspaper has a brief entry about a trade mark dispute in Germany. Christin Römer has been told by the company that she is infringing a trade mark owned by Apple.

In 1996 Apple registered the trade mark given below in the national German trade mark system.

Apple Cafe German trade mark

These are the details on it from the national register, which says it covers Nice Class 43 for snack bars and the like. There are 45 classes for different areas of business, so that the same words or logos can co-exist.

In April 2011 Christin Römer succeeded in registering in the same system the trade mark given below in 13 different classes, with goods and services described in German in the official details. Class 43 is one of them. Apparently she runs a cafe, though her ambitions are broad if she's registered it for so many classes.

Apfelkind German trade mark
"Apfelkind" means "Apple child". So, are there grounds for claiming that the public are being confused or deceived ? Will they be reminded of Apple's logo when they see the Apfelkind logo ? Is Apple claiming a monopoly on the concept of an apple in brands, one wonders. Perhaps the problem is where the child's head interrupts the skin of the apple, suggesting for some the familiar logo.

Here is one posting on the subject on the Tech.Blorge site. It's not quite the same, but this case reminds me of the Tea Box dispute, where the appearance of a teapot was the problem. I posted on it back in 2009.

28 October 2011

Rufus Roo®, innovation of the Year

I was pleased to hear that a company helped by us has become Innovation of the Year in the North Devon Journal Business Awards. This is Rufus Roo®, a travel jacket with large, strong pockets so that you can take up to 10 kilogrammes onto a low-cost flight, and avoid paying to put a suitcase in the aircraft's hold.

I posted about them back in July. The cheeky product continues to enjoy strong sales. I liked the comment in the company's page that Ryanair had said that they were not going to ban the jacket or impose a "Roo tax".

Apparently a New Zealander designed it for them, hence the "down under" name of the product. A strong brand identity is always a good idea to make a product stand out, and they have that with the trade mark, but a distinctive look can be important too.

Therefore the site mentions that they have secured Community Design 001817099. Below is the main drawing.

EU design 001817099_0001_1

24 October 2011

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011 is on its way

GEW logo We have had some excellent events during Global Entrepreneurship Weeks over the past few years (Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010).

And it looks like this year will be just as good. It will run from 14 to 18 November, and includes Speed mentoring sessions and Question Time for Entrepreneurs.

Speed mentoring

Each day we’ll be running informal half-day networking sessions. The Centre will be full of business experts and successful entrepreneurs who you can talk with informally and get advice.

The themes for this year are:

Monday – Absolute Beginners

Tuesday – IP & Innovation

Wednesday – Women in Business

Thursday – Marketing Maestros

Friday – Make It, Sell It!

The speed mentoring sessions run from 10.00am – 13.00pm and 14.00pm – 17.00pm and are free.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs


Photos: Tim Campbell,  Lara Morgan and Vernon W. Hill II

Our special evening event will give you the opportunity to question some of the most successful and influential people in British business today. Speakers include Emma Bridgewater, Lara Morgan, Vernon W. Hill II and former Apprentice winner Tim Campbell. A networking reception will follow the event.

Business Startup Show

Join us on stand 412 at the Business Startup Show in Earls Court on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 November! Along with our partners, Business Plan Services, Trademark Direct and Grow, members of the Business & IP Centre team will be on hand to explain how we can help kick-start your business.

Find out more about Global Entrepreneurship Week.

‘Absolute Beginners’ day

The essentials you’ll need to get going in business – finance, market research and business planning.

‘IP & Innovation’ day

Meet experts who can help you innovate and stay creative as well as protecting your ideas

‘Women in business’ day

Meet a whole host of female entrepreneurs, from the big names to women that are just getting started.

‘Marketing Maestros’ day

Find out how to improve your brand and marketing strategy on the Marketing Maestros day in Global Entrepreneurship Week.

‘Make It, Sell It!’ day

Meet craft experts to help you grow and develop your business.

Question Time for Entrepreneurs

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs

Dana Levy Bags & Jewellery Design – another Success Story

evil_eyeMy colleague Julie Simkin has written this post on one of her success stories:

I always get excited when I hear from one of my Business Start-Up clients and hear that their business is doing well. This was the case last week when I heard from Dana Levy. I first met with Dana in November 2009 when her business was established, but Dana felt it was the right time to grow and expand into new areas.

When I asked Dana about her experiences with the Business & IP Centre she said:

‘The Business and IP Centre has been very useful in helping me move forward with my business. As well as using the library’s extensive research facilities, I have also had one to one sessions with their knowledgeable Information specialist , Julie Simpkin, and also I had  a one to one session with an ex- ‘Dragon’. These sessions were really useful as they were personal and tailored to my business needs.

The Business & IP Centre also organises really interesting lectures, events and workshops. The most recent workshop I was lucky enough to attend was on Social Networking by Kimberley Davis who featured on the Apprentice a few years ago. She was absolutely brilliant – Very informative and delivered her presentation in such a fun and interesting way.’


Designer Dana Levy grew up in London and has been designing handmade jewellery and accessories for over 10 years. Her creative journey began by spending long summers in the spiritual city of Jerusalem, which then lured her to relocate there and complete a Fine Arts degree at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design. It was while she was based there for 7 years, immersed in Jerusalem’s rich culture and beauty, that her inspiration for designing jewellery and accessories truly began.

Once back in London, the Dana Levy brand began with yoga & meditation accessories using beautiful silk damask fabrics found on her travels in the Middle East. Those damask fabrics soon became her trademark across all of the lifestyle accessories ranging from yoga & meditation accessories, to backgammon travel rolls and tote & evening bags. The careful selection of luxurious materials matched uniquely with symbolic charms is an expression of the ancient and modern worlds coming together.

As soon as the Dana Levy lifestyle range was established, the designer started her jewellery lines inspired by the exotic sights and traditions from the Middle East. All of Dana’s jewellery pieces are handmade and incorporate semi-precious gemstones, Czech glass beads and beautiful charms, amulets and talismans that have spiritual meaning, such as the ‘Hamsa’ hand, a symbol for good luck, and the Evil Eye, a symbol for protection.

All collections are designed by Dana and hand-made using the highest quality materials exclusively sourced from around the world, including the Middle East and Russia.

Dana Levy’s unique pieces have been featured in fashion magazines all around the world such as Vogue, Red, Grazia, and Elle to name just a few. They are also firm favourites with fashion editors and stylists alike.


19 October 2011

Create your elevator pitch with Amber Raney-Kincade

You step into a lift and someone asks “What do you do?” They are getting off in a few floors, so you only have seconds to gain their interest and pass off your business card. How will they remember you? Amber Raney-Kincade’s workshop is dedicated to creating your specific elevator pitch. You will leave this seminar with a pitch you can begin using immediately.

I attended this workshop yesterday at the City Business Library near the Barbican as part of my journey to create the perfect elevator pitch for the Business & IP Centre (How elevated is your pitch?) Read on to see if I have succeeded.

I have included Amber’s description of her workshop in full above, as it is a wonderful example of a pitch in its own right. (Photo by Abdou.W)

I have decided for this workshop review to try and give an insight into the process. So I am going to include my working notes for my pitch, along with the topics covered by Amber.

1. The five W’s and H are common approaches when first tackling a business related problem, and are used here:

Who is the subject of the elevator pitch?
The British Library Business & IP Centre
What does the person or business do?
We provide information, training and support for inventors and start-up business.
Where does the business or service operate?
We are located within the British Library at St Pancras in north London. Next door to Kings Cross.
When is the service available?
We are open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 8pm (5pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
Why offer the product or service?
We want to make use of our existing information to make the British Library more useful to inventors and start-up business.
How does the product or service work?
We give free on-site access to millions of pounds of market research reports, directories, trade journals, company databases, with workshops and free advice clinics.

2. Understand the pains of your customers, so you can present your solutions to their problems.
For the Business & IP Centre customers this includes a lack of knowledge of:
o    Their market place
o    Their competitors
o    Relevant legislation
o    Intellectual Property protection
o    Facts to back up their gut feelings
o    How to prioritise

3. Next Amber made us look at the components of our business or service
What is the service, product, company etc?
Information, training and support for inventors and start-up business.
What problems does it solve?
Inventors and start-up business need to know more about their market place, their competitors, relevant legislation, Intellectual Property  protection, facts to back up their gut feelings and how to prioritise.
How am I different?
We hold the largest collection of freely available market research and business information in the world. We understand the role of intellectual property in protecting a start-up or growing business.
Why should your customers care?
So you don’t waste time and money, and make the right decisions for your business.

4. Amber showed us how to structure a pitch. It needs to:
-    Have a hook
-    Be straightforward (especially no jargon)
-    Establish credibility (name drop if possible)
-    Show passion for what you are doing
-    Be about informing, not bragging about you or your business
-    Not be all about you – needs to be about their needs – not yours

5. Then you need to think about background information
Who are your competitors now (be honest and realistic)?
o    For the Business & IP Centre we have partners and competitors in the shape of other business libraries, Business Link and local authority enterprise agencies.
­Who are you not like?
o    We are not patent attorneys giving legal advice
o    We do not provide incubation space
o    We don’t register companies or trademarks
­ What are your Unique Selling Points?
o    The depth and breadth of our content.
o    Our specialist knowledge and expertise.
o    Our combination of business and intellectual property knowledge.
­ What is your motivation / objectives?
o    To help inventors and individuals start and grow successful businesses.
o    To contribute to the growth of the UK economy.
­ Who is your idea client?
o    Inventors and early stage business start-ups

5. Amber ran through lots of good, bad and indifferent real examples of elevator pitches she has come across. This lead to a heated debate amongst the attendees, but with broad agreement of which was best and why.

6. We then had five minutes to come up with a pitch, which we presented to the room. The next twenty minutes consisted of a lively session where we helped each other improve our pitches.

7. Finally Amber gave us a formula to apply in the unlikely event that we had not managed to produce a suitable pitch during the workshop.


So after all that work, here is my shiny new pitch:

Are you ready to take the leap to start your own business?

At the Business & IP Centre in the British Library we provide free information, workshops and advice on your markets, competitors, legislation and in fact pretty much anything you need to start or grow your business.

Please let me know what you think, and how it could be improved.

Thanks again to Amber for a great workshop.


The UK IPO's IPSUM database for patent correspondence

The UK IPO has recently launched the IPSUM database, which records data on the status of GB or EP (UK) patents as well as the correspondence between the IPO and applicants and their agents.

Potentially, a lot of valuable information is available. An example is the data on GB2443127. The status is given as "awaiting applicant's response", as on the 19 May an office decision, O/170/11, was made where an examiner refused Halliburton's application on the grounds that it was on an unpatentable subject. The status sounds odd, as the decision states that any appeal must be made within 28 days. It's now been five months.

The decision itself and other items of correspondence (but not, it seems, internal memos etc.) can be found by clicking on Documents on the right hand side of the results page. There are links to the patent specification above the status data, in this case to the British A document on Espacenet (which is one page, explaining that it is based on a PCT document) and also to the PCT specification itself on the Patentscope database.

The new database usefully supplements the British status data already available on the Patent Status Enquiry database. In this particular case, that database only tells us that an examination was requested in 2008.

However, as the database is so new the coverage seems to be mainly limited to recent applications. There is information explaining about this -- for example, third party observations on patentability is only available if put on the file after the 1 July 2011.

The file of documents -- "file wrapper" in the USA -- is very useful for those looking for information on what's happening with other people's patent applications. I suspect, though, that if cases go to the law courts that the file will simply end, and ideally information explaining that a dispute is now in civil litigation arena would be very helpful. There is similar data (status plus correspondence) in the European Patent Office with its European Patent Register, while the USA has Public PAIR.

More details are available from a useful posting on IPSUM and Public PAIR on the Intellogist blog.

By the way it is important to remember to enter either GB or EP before the patent number when using IPSUM.

18 October 2011

Baby Beamers another Success Story for the Business & IP Centre

Baby_Beamers_esther_smallBirgitte Lydum recently got in contact with some lovely comments about her experiences of using the Business & IP Centre.

I first went to British Library’s IP & Business Centre in 2009, when I realised that I needed help with pretty much everything to do with my business idea – a multi-configuration pram cover. I’d just moved past the point where I thought a good product idea was enough, and had realised that I was going to need to educate myself on many levels, before even hoping to succeed getting the product on the market.

So I signed up for seminars on the subjects of intellectual property, business plans, market research, marketing, business finance, a one-on-one with an invention specialist, a one-on-one with a successful entrepreneur, and three hours of free market research with a full report delivered to me – just to mention a few of the amazing services available. I also attended several brilliant networking events listening to and meeting various well known and inspirational entrepreneurs. Many of the people I’ve met at these events, fellow business owners I’m still in contact with today.

Baby_Beamers_logoI was blown away by the quality of the seminars, the staff’s helpfulness, and the amount of information available to me, all for free. I had no idea that there was so much to learn in this wonderful building, buzzing with ideas, creativity, enthusiasm and determination. A bit annoyed with myself for not discovering the place earlier I decided to go there whenever possible, to focus, to learn and to develop my business in the best possible way.

One day, when preparing my patent application in the quiet, clean and comfortable computer area of the centre, I was encouraged by a staff member to try a one-to-one with one of their Information Specialists, who in my case turned out to be Julie Simpkin. It’s without a doubt one of the best decisions I was to make for helping my business materialise. In just one hour Julie taught me so much more about what I wanted from my business than I’d ever be able to learn by myself, from a book or the internet.

For me, she had the effect of a really good business/life coach. We discussed my ideas for the product and the business, and gave me a lot of constructive and sincere encouragement. Julie was the one to suggest that I separated the company name (Baby Beamers) from the product name (SunSnoozer, instead of Baby Beamers Pram Cover), in case I wanted to add more products later. Good practical advice like all the other nuggets of brilliant advice I left with. She made me commit to my goals there and then by getting me to sign a to-do list for our next meeting, and I floated away from there, head and notebook crammed with new ideas, and a much better and clearer understanding of what it was that I wanted from my business.


Baby Beamers

Baby Beamers Ltd was founded by Danish designer Birgitte Lydum, when she realised that a pram sun cover she had invented to protect her baby against the sun and make it easier for her to sleep, filled a gap in the market. After numerous prototypes, extensive market research and product testing the SunSnoozer is now available to buy. Other products to help make life easier for new parents are in development.


Baby Beamers:

  • Encourages better sleep by eliminating bright light and visual distractions.
  • Allows constant view of baby, while still eliminating direct sun or wind.
  • 7 different configurations allow full protection no matter the wind/sun’s direction.
  • Easy access – no need to detach cover when lifting baby in and out of pram.
  • Can be left on the pram, saving valuable storage space. Machine washable.
  • Fits easily under rain covers, mosquito nets and any other pram accessories.
  • UPF 50+ (click HERE for test details, and further info on baby sun protection).
  • The ultimate no fuss, all-season, all-round pram accessory for new parents.