Friday, May 6, 2016

To e or not to e? Its not even a question!

I would love to consider myself a jet setter but I am really not.  Yet here I am again stuck on an airplane (the 4th of 9 this month).  This one however is slightly different as I am on my way home from the PATLIB2016 conference that has been held in the beautiful city of Helsinki.

When I'm sat on a plane cruising along at 36,000ft I can't help but think about intellectual property.  Whether it's the patents in the wing keeping us aloft, the branding of the cola I'm drinking or the copyright in the movie I am watching on my pad, It is almost literally everywhere.  I am one of those who takes my job home with me and like nothing better than to lecture my friends on the ethics of illegal downloading or spotting the incorrect reference to IP on a well-known super hero movie (shame on you Pepper). Anyway I digress.

I have only been working closely with the Patlib network for around 12 months but cannot help but be impressed with what service is offered, especially on such small budgets. The conference was a good way to close up my first year in my role as the IPO's liaison to the network as it allowed me to see how great a job the Patlib UK network does with such tight constraints placed on them.

There was a theme of digitalisation that run through much of the conference which kicked off with an interesting keynote from Taneli Tikka talking about the industrial Internet and the future of technology including the use of water less showers (isn't that's what students do already?).

As we moved through the conference it was clear that the need for Patlibs and national offices to have a strong online presence has never been more important.  Everyone knows that if a question needs answering Google will provide an answer. The problem is that it wont just provide one answer. There will be loads of organisations and lots of sites all offering the same help and advice.  The truth for businesses and business advisers alike is that to succeed you need to stay ahead of the game.

With the relaunch of this blog and most UK Patlib centers having received Social Media training I am pleased to say that the UK is pushing ahead when it comes to being online and we are once again leading the way among Patlibs throughout Europe.

That being said there is always more than can be done. Business support organisations, like the businesses we advise, need to continually innovate to stay ahead of the game or run the risk of being consigned to history like the dinosaurs or Chesney Hawkes. 

Andrew Reith
    May 2016

Saturday, October 31, 2015

We've Got A New Logo!

Well after much deliberation, perspiration and a few tears (OK well maybe that was just me!) PATLIB UK has a new logo.

Our new logo says right up front what we are all about. Hopefully it will start to get itself noticed in all the right places as a badge of quality in the intellectual property field.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Make Your Mark

An exhibition tracing the history of trademarks and patents which showcased material from Belfast Central Libraries archives and current business resources which ran from April 2015 - June 2015.

Facebook link

Stephen McFarlane
June 2015

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Commonwealth Came to Glasgow

After the hiatus in posting over the summer we are back with another posting from one of our PATLIB UK centres. Our colleagues in Glasgow have recovered after the euphoria of the Commonwealth Games and reflect on intellectual property's role in the games.

Glasgow was buzzing and the medal winners were amazing but it wasn't all about the sport or indeed the legacy.

Branding and sponsorship has in these Games as it did in the London Olympics and indeed in every modern major sporting event played a vital part.  To see the beginnings of modern sports sponsorship you have to go back to 1852 when a marketing-savvy agent for the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railway sponsored the Yale v Harvard Boat Race in order to promote the railroad to the spectators (Harvard Magazine May-June 2002).  Kodak was one of the first companies to offer sponsorship to the International Olympic Committee in 1896 in return for an advertisement in the programme of the first modern Olympics held in Athens.  Their sponsorship indeed lasted until 2008 when the company decided to refocus its marketing strategy (Reuters Oct 12 2007).

One of the first major moves of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Organising Committee was to create a trademark prior to their successful bid for the Commonwealth Games XX.  To date the committee has fourteen trademarks registered with the Intellectual Property Office and one more which is under examination which appears not only on the merchandise being sold but has been inculcated into the advertising of the sponsors who donated varying sums of money or goods in order to be associated with the Games and thereby gain access to the worldwide audience which it is attracting.  It is in effect a series of partnerships in which each contributes something unique to itself and gains something which it doesn’t have access to.

The sponsors of course then build a marketing campaign around their involvement.  A.G. Barr the maker of our “other national drink” (Irn Bru for the uninitiated) set aside £12m for their multi-brand marketing in the run up to the Games. 

Virgin Media on the other hand is giving Games visitors a chance to race against Usain Bolt – virtually that is – in their engagement marketing campaign which will run for the duration of the Games.

Tunnock’s the manufacturers of the teacakes which caused such a storm in the opening ceremony must be counting every one of their £ well-spent when their sales rose by 62% as the dancing teacakes dominated the headlines and Twitter.

This is one of the reasons why the protection of the brand identity through logos and trademarks is so important to the integrity of the partnership and is indeed protected in law.  You can’t have a company paying (either in cash or in kind) for an association with such an important worldwide event and then allow a non-contributing competitor to enjoy the same association by displaying the Games trademarks or advertising their products at the Games.

This of course can lead to all sorts of problems such as ambush marketing – a marketing technique in which advertisers work to connect their product with a particular event in the minds of potential customers, without having to pay sponsorship.  One of the most awkward moments of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was when 36 young women dressed in orange mini skirts associated with the Dutch brewers Bavaria entered the stands and were swiftly ejected.  Two of the perpetrators according to a BBC report were arrested for organising “unlawful commercial activities”.

Brand protection is a very complicated subject as Lord Coe found out shortly before the London Olympics when he was reported as saying that spectators would not be allowed to wear t shirts emblazoned with Pepsi logos as Coca-Cola were one of the official sponsors.

On a lighter note my colleague’s boyfriend has had occasion to don one of the Clyde costumes but she assured me that he wasn’t the real Clyde who accompanies the Queen’s baton.  I had a vision of a six foot thistle man waking up early on Christmas morning to find a rotund gentleman with a long white beard and dressed in a red suit at the bottom of his bed greeting him with the words: “The real Clyde I presume.  How do you do I’m the real Santa.”

Catherine Queen

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Greetings from the Library of Birmingham.

This is the next posting in our series of updates from the PATLIB UK Network. This time we hear from the team at the fantastic new Library of Birmingham.

Library of Birmingham Floors by Bruce Stokes is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Here in Birmingham we are still overwhelmed by the number of visitors to the new library. Some are just tourists who visit the building to experience the views over the city and surrounding areas, many visit to use the internet facilities, and of course, there are those seeking business and intellectual property advice and our other services. The daily Intellectual Property Advice sessions are proving extremely popular and are usually fully booked ten days in advance. We are now offering an additional evening appointment on Fridays at 18.00.

We ran a very successful evening on the 25th February, when we hosted the Inspiring Entrepreneurs event, in conjunction with the British Library.  The live link up was preceded by a talk by local entrepreneur and TV presenter, Genelle Aldred, who provided an insight into her own personal success story and some practical advice on starting a business. Sixty seven people attended on the night and many enjoyed a networking session afterwards. Both Barclays, who sponsored the event, and Business and Learning had information stands within the networking area. We talked to a great number of people on the night, many who commented that they didn't realise that the library offered such a range of services!

We are currently planning our events to celebrate World IP Day. The day itself falls on Saturday 26th April. However, we are preparing to deliver two IP workshops on Monday 28th April. The first, focussing on ‘IP and your Business’, to cover trademarks, copyright, trade secrets and design, aimed at business start ups, the second to look at patents and patent searching. We will then offer drop in IP advice sessions in the afternoon for those with further questions. Busy times!

Malcolm Cater

Monday, March 31, 2014

Post from the Outgoing Chair of PATLIB UK

Today's posting is a much belated post (blame the current chair not the outgoing one!) by Maria Lampert the outgoing chair of PATLIB UK who has steered the ship for a number of very successful years and is now moving on to bigger and better things at the British Library.

Thank you to Maria for all her hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and for passing on the Pink Pig of Power!

She will be sorely missed, so without further ado I give you Maria.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye!

When I was asked to write a post for the PATLIB blog as out-going Chair I thought great, I am sure I can find something to say. Well, the first attempt challenged War and Peace for length and the second wouldn’t have been out of place in one of those warts and all magazines! So, leaving out all the boring procedural bits (sighs of relief from everyone in PATLIB UK), and also leaving out all the ‘what happened’ at Conference stories (sighs of relief from anyone who has ever been at a PATLIB Conference with me!) I apologise in advance for my offering.

When I was asked to join the Patent Information Network (or PIN as it was known then) as the British Library’s representative what seems like a long time ago I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I found was a group of dedicated library staff from library’s up and down the UK all working to one end – to bring Intellectual Property information and, more importantly, understanding of intellectual property, to the general public. That hasn't changed.

The way we work has though, we've gone from patents on micro fiche and hard copy editions of the IPC with its accompanying Catchword Index, to desk top computers and  CD-ROMs, and finally, to the many and varied electronic IP databases we have at our fingertips today. We had to train ourselves in all this new technology before we could help the public. Like swans calmly floating on the surface of a lake whilst furiously paddling underwater we try to keep abreast of the swiftly changing patent information landscape whilst confidently assisting our users on their journey to patent their inventions, or not as the case might be. The inventors that used and continue to use our facilities rely on us to help them not make that often costly mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel and I am sure you will agree that every inventor we have stopped from wasting time and money on an invention that already existed was and is as much a success as the ones we have helped take their ideas to grant.

What fun we have all had!

With so much intellectual property information being freely available via the internet the needs of our users have changed and what we have to offer our users has had to change to meet those changing needs. We now offer workshops and clinics and various guides and factsheets all written by PATLIB staff and, more recently, we are all branching out looking at ways to help the would be entrepreneur in setting up their business. The BIPC blue print roll out and the BIPC Wiki will go a long way to ensuring that we are all offering similar services to our users. The Standards and Constitution that all of the PATLIBs signed in 2007 now needs updating to allow for all of the changes in the way we work, the facilities we have to hand and what we are going to offer our users and I know the new Chair, Luke Burton, is already working hard on the amendments.

I think the signing of the Standards and Constitution in 2007 is one of my proudest moments as PATLIB Chair. Stef Stephenson from Leeds, Christine Brown from Manchester and I spent very many hours perfecting the document and we sent it out to all 13 PATLIBs, if I am honest, not really expecting every library to sign it but hopeful they would none the less. And they all did. The decision to band together and self regulate was a first for any PATLIB Network Worldwide and we were approached by the EPO PATLIB Committee who asked if they could have a copy of our Standards and Constitution with view to rolling a version of it out to the rest of the networks.

Other high points include the opening of PATLIB Cymru in Llandudno Junction and PATLIB Manchester hosting the PATLIB 2012 Conference. The speed networking event we held in the Renaissance Hotel during the conference was a first for many of our European PATLIB colleagues and was talked about for a long time afterwards. The visit to Man United’s Old Trafford football ground was a high point of the conference for all the footie fans. The low’s? Well, there weren't many except perhaps PATLIB Bristol withdrawing from the network.

I have truly enjoyed my time with PATLIB UK and am grateful for the help and support I have received from all of you, but a special mention has to go to Stef Stephenson without whose assistance my work as Chair would have been that much more difficult.

So I am handing over the responsibility for representing PATLIB London to my colleague Philip Eagle, who will I know bring a fresh viewpoint and fresh ideas to the network, and I am handing over the Chair to Luke Burton of PATLIB Newcastle from whom you can expect great things. I will still be working at the British Library and my contact details remain the same so you know where I am if you need my help at any time.
In the words of another perhaps more famous Maria (yes, believe it or not there is one!) “So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye!”…….for now anyway.

Maria Lampert

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

News from the PATLIB Network

Apologies to everyone for the delay in posting this article; we will make up for it with some extra postings in March so keep your eyes peeled!

This posting is a great piece written by Stephen McFarlane who is Information and Learning Service Manager for Libraries NI and is based in Belfast.

This is a great example of the interest that intellectual property, and patents in particular, can hold for people working in diverse fields, not least of all local and family history. It also demonstrates the type of complete service that you can receive from a public library using a range of resources. 

So sit back relax and enjoy!

Belfast Central Library- Equine Adventures Down Under

Sometimes patent information isn't about the future but about the past, this is an interesting example……

Bill Ronald emailed us from Berwick, Australia asking for patent information about cast iron stable fittings and stalls he owned, manufactured by Musgrave’s of Belfast between the 1840s and 1870s. He had already unsuccessfully tried various Australian libraries.

Having found nothing in the online resources, we searched our historic hard copy collection and were able to emailed  him scanned copies of the relevant U.K patents taken out by James Musgrave in 1867, Patent 993- ‘Fittings for stables, harness rooms, and cow houses’ and Patent 2698- ‘Improvements in stable, cow house, and harness room fittings’. 

We were also able to provide information on the history of the Musgrave company, which primarily manufactured cast iron heating stoves. They traded in Belfast from the early 1800s until the 1960s and exported all over the world, the pre First World War German Empire being one of their biggest markets.

The stable fittings were originally purchased from Musgrave’s by a Melbourne based horse trading establishment called Kirk’s Bazaar, founded in 1840. This was a very successful company, particularly during the 1860s Australian Gold Rush. When the company folded in 1925 Bill’s great grandfather (who owned and trained Australia’s greatest ever steeplechase horse, ‘Mosstrooper’) purchased the 2 ton stable fittings and stalls.

The items consist of 1 complete fully enclosed stable, 3 tie up stalls, 3 stall, tie up, water, feed and hay rack sections and 5 decorative cast iron horse heads. Some of the stall posts are embossed with the Royal By Appointment and the Royal crest, along with mention of the relevant Musgrave patent. 

It all sounds like a 19th century version of an IKEA flat-pack. The stable equipment was buried at the family farm for decades and dug up only last year by Bill. He has already started restoring the items by sand blasting them and hopes to paint them and reassemble them for display in a purpose built building.

Bill Ronald's Musgrave pieces

Bill was very pleased with the information we sent him and said-

“Thank you for your welcome email and helpful advice, a pleasant change to receiving no reply at all. You really have been to a lot of trouble and I really appreciate it. Thank you again most sincerely for your assistance.”

Stephen McFarlane 
Belfast PATLIB