13 September 2017

Hear about IP Rights in China from the Horse's Mouth

Author: Unknown US serviceman or woman
Licence  Dedicated to the public courtesy of US Government
















Jane Lambert

There is an awful lot of rubbish spoken about IP rights in China so here are some facts:-
  • In 2015 some 2.9 million patents were applied for throughout the world (an increase of 8% over the 2.7 million applications the previous year). Of those 2.9 million, China accounted for 1.1 million (an increase of 18.7% over the 928,177 sought the previous year). The USA was number two in both 2014 and 2015 with 587,802 and 589,410 respectively and Japan came third with 325,989 in 2014 and 318,721 in 2015.  How many patents did we seek during those years?  A mere 23,040 in 2014. I have been unable to find figures for Britsh patent applications in 2015 (sources page 7 World Intellectual Property Indicators 2016 published by the WIPO and Building the Evidence Base on the Performance of the UK Patent System published by the IPO).
  • According to the WIPO China is also number 1 on trade mark, industrial design and utility model applications (ibid).
  • According to Gabriela Kennedy, a partner of the international law firm Mayer Brown JSM, China enforces the intellectual property rights that have been granted by SIPO (its national intellectual property office).  She writes in the current issue of her firm's IP and TMT Quarterly Review that 
"As of 2016, 224 Intermediate People’s Courts and 167 Basic People’s Courts have been designated as having jurisdiction over the hearing of IP-related matters. Between 1985 to 2016, the People’s Courts accepted 792,851 civil IP cases and concluded 766,101 cases. Between 1998 to 2016, the People’s Courts accepted 77,116 criminal IP cases and concluded 76,174 cases."
So much for the urban myth that China does not invent or create anything but instead copies other countries' technology and other intellectual assets.

China is already an important trading partner. Under its One Belt One Road programme (which I mentioned briefly in my article on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in NIPC Brexit), it plans to invest trillions of pounds into new roads, railways, ports and other infrastructure projects between now and 2049. Some of that money could be invested in new technologies such as a 4,000 km/h train hovering above the tracks (see Steve Hanley China Proposes 4000 km/h Flying Train As Part Of Its One Belt, One Road Plan 11 Sept 2017 CleanTechnica).  As magnetic levitation and graphene were invented in the UK, there is no reason why businesses in this country could not get a share of the research work to develop, manufacture and install that train) as well as supply a range of other goods and services.

But British businesses will only be able to do that if their inventions, designs and brands are protected adequately in China. As few British business people and their professional advisors speak Mandarin that is not easy to do.  Happily, we do have a senior diplomat in our embassy in Beijing who does speak that language and is well connected with officials and advisors in the Peoples' Republic who can help.

That diplomat is Mr Tom Duke. He will be in Leeds between 09:30 and 12:00 and Barnsley between 14:30 and 16:30 to address business owners, creatives, designers. entrepreneurs, innovators and investors on how to protect and make money from their brands, designs, technology and works of art and literature in China.  His meeting at Leeds will take place at Northern Ballet at Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7PA and the meeting in Barnsley at Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, Innovation Way, Barnsley, S75 1JL You can find full details in Meet our IP Attaché to China 21 July 2017.

There are still one or two spaces in Leeds and a few more in Barnsley but you will have to move fast.  Call 020 7404 5252 or email my clerk Steve Marshall without delay if you want to book your place. We look forward to seeing you there.

7 September 2017

Supporting Enterprise, Innovation and Creativity in South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire
Author Nifanion
Licence Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported






















Jane Lambert

You only have to look at the map to see the importance of the metropolitan county of South Yorkshire. Close to the Leeds-Bradford and Greater Manchester conurbations, not far from the North Sea and Atlantic ports with its own growing international airport, good rail and road links to London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle, one of the world's great research universities as well as many other fine universities, schools and colleges, excellent theatres and concert halls and famous sporting venues, there is no better place to found or expand a business than Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham or Sheffield.

To support those businesses Barnsley Business Innovation Centre holds regular intellectual property clinics with patent counsel. "What's so special about them?" I hear you say. "There are regular patent clinics with patent attorneys at Leeds and Sheffield." True! And they are excellent. But the sessions at Barnsley are with counsel. It is counsel who advise attorneys and solicitors on difficult points of law, draft complex legal instruments and, where necessary, represent them before judges and hearing officers in the IPO. It is from their ranks that the judges of the Patents Court, Chancery Division and Intellectual Property Enterprise Court are drawn (see my article IP Services from Barristers 6 April 2013 revised 16 May 2017 NIPC News).

What you get from a barrister is independence because they don't prosecute patent, trade mark or design applications and years of experience of the things that can go wrong since they are only consulted when a case is out of the ordinary and that is why they are relatively expensive. A 30-minute conference in London would cost many hundreds of pounds. What Barnsley BIC offers every month is a similar 30-minute slot in Barnsley with specialist counsel for nothing.

On the second Tuesday of every month, I am to be found at Barnsley between 16:00 and 18:00 and I shall see anybody who books in advance. The sort of questions I get are
  • "I hope to set up a business in Barnsley in the next few weeks but I am not sure of the best way of protecting my brand, product or service?"
  • "How can I find out whether this invention is patentable and if so how do I apply for a patent?"
  • "I have just received this nasty letter from Sioux, Grabbit & Run. What should I do about it?" or
  • "A company in China has offered to manufacture my product but how do I protect my business there?."
If you have any question on IP I shall be at the BIC on Tuesday 12 Sept, 10 Oct, 14 Nov or 12 Dec 2017 between 16:00 and 18:00. If you want to save yourself several hundred pounds in legal fees, you need only fill in this form or call Steve Marshall on 020 7404 5252 to reserve your slot.

As the last question "A company in China has offered to manufacture my product but how do I protect my business there?" arises frequently, we have been lucky enough to persuade Mr Tom Duke, our IP attaché in China to talk to our local entrepreneurs, inventors, creatives and their investors. Tom will give you a great start to protecting and licensing your brands, designs, technology and creative works in China so that you can invest in, export to, import from or otherwise make loads and loads of money in that increasingly important market. He will be at Barnsley BIC on 19 Sept 2017 at 14:30. 

Now if that time happens to clash with a round of golf, dental appointment or anything else that you can do another day or get a colleague to cover, ponder this. You can do all those things some other time but if you want Tom's contacts and information you will have to go to China for it and that's a lot further than Wilthorpe. So call Steve on 020 7404 5252 to book your place. You will find further information in Meet our IP Attaché 21 July 2017. You could save or earn yourself a whole heap of renminbi if you turn up.

If you want to discuss this article or IP in China, England or anywhere else, call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

5 September 2017

Tech North Angel Network

Blake's Angel of the Revelation
Source Wikipedia






















Jane Lambert

A business angel is a wealthy individual who has often acquired wealth through running and sometimes selling his or her own business and invests in a new or growing company. Usually, the connections and experience that an angel brings to the business in which he or she invests are at least as valuable as his or her investment.  They can make all the difference between success and failure for that business.

They are therefore very useful people to know but they are not always easy to reach. Although many angels follow emerging technologies and keep in close touch with entrepreneurs and inventors, they cannot know everything that goes on in an industry.  To facilitate contact between angels willing to invest and entrepreneurs seeking investment, networks are formed.

Tech North, "a government-backed initiative charged with accelerating the growth of the digital business sector in the North of England," has just announced the launch of new angel network for the North of England (see James Bedford Introducing the Tech North Angel Network 30 Aug 2017 Tech North website).

According to Bedford:
"The aim is to build a strong, open network of tech investors that is easy to access and open to pan-Northern collaboration. We are working with a variety of partners on this, including UKBAAGP BullhoundAngel AcademeDow Schofield WattsAll Bright and others."
Bedford stresses that "the ‘open’ aspect is important."  He explains:
"Private angel networks have their place, but it can be very hard for startups to access them. That’s if they know about them at all. Great deals could be left on the table because the right entrepreneurs never meet the right angels."
The network begins with a series of workshops for new investors the first of which take place in Manchester and Wilmslow on 7 and 13 Sept 2017. There will be workshops in Leeds for new investors on 2 Oct 2017 and more experienced ones on 18 Oct 2017. Other events will be announced later.

It is very important that investors should understand intellectual property strategy when contemplating an investment and that they should understand whether a business's technology or other intellectual assets are properly protected and adequately leveraged.  As a starter, I suggest they read my IP Primer for Business Angels and Private Equity Investors 29 Aug 2016 NIPC News. No business is too small to have an IP strategy and if a company does not have one I would be slow to invest in it.

If there is sufficient interest in IP strategy with Techn North or its partners I shall run a workshop on IP strategy for business angels and entrepreneurs in Manchester, Liverpool or both.

Should anyone wish to discuss this article, IP strategy or IP and angel or private equity investment, call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.