31 December 2012

One More Day to Register for Connect Yorkshire's Business Forum

Connect Yorkshire holds investment forums twice a year.   These forums are an opportunity to present a business proposition to investors with the benefit of coaching on investment readiness and pitching.   A typical programme would consist of the following:

09:00    Registration, Exhibition and Refreshments
10:00    Forum Commences – Introduction & Welcome
10:05    Investment Forum Panel Introductions
10:10    Session 1 Company Presentations
11:25    Exhibition and Refreshments
11.55    Session 2 Company Presentations
13:05    Concluding Comments
13:10    Exhibition, Buffet Lunch & Networking
14:30     Close
The next forum will take place at the offices of DLA Piper in Leeds on 6 Feb 2013 and the closing date for entries is the 2 Jan 2013.   If you want to attend contact Hollie Shenton or call her on 0113 384 5643

3 November 2012

100th Post: IP News Roundup - November 2012

Probably the biggest IP news in Yorkshire as it was for the rest of the country was the launch of the Patents County Court small claims track on 1 Oct 2012. I gave a presentation on the new small claims track to the Sheffield Inventors Group on 1 Oct 2012 and have written a lot of articles about it which are linked to Patents County Court - the New Small Claims Track Rules.

Having spent most of my career persuading businesses in Yorkshire and their legal advisers to make more use of the Leeds District Registry and County Court I now find myself settling proceedings or applying for cases to be transferred to the Rolls Building.   Sure, you can still issue claim forms for intellectual property actions in Leeds and in theory you can still have a trial here but why would anyone want to? The Patents County Court can hear claims up to £500,000 in the multitrack, cases are tightly managed, trials must be over in 2 days and there is a recoverable costs ceiling of £50,000. Where the relief sought is simply an injunction the quick, cheap and simple process offered by the small claims track is even more compelling.

And yet. 

When His Honour Judge Blackett-Ord retired as Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster in 1988 there was a widespread fear that he would not be replaced.  Chancery practitioners in the North mounted a campaign to keep the ancient palatinate jurisdiction which was led by Peter Keenan from my old chambers.   We wrote a memo to the Lord Chancellor to which I contributed an economics argument.   Central to my case was that a chancery court demanded expertise which created an infrastructure of other professionals who could offer a wide range of services such as intellectual property.  Creating a cadre of specialist counsel, solicitors and patent attorneys, I argued, facilitated R&D, the arts and commerce with it the wealth creating businesses that make the difference between a large town and a metropolis.   

I think the renaissance of Leeds as well as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and the other great cities of the North over the last 20 years proves that I was right.   I fear the exodus of intellectual property cases to the Rolls Building could be the beginnings of a haemorrhage of intellectual property expertise in our region.

On a more cheerful note, Leeds Inventors Club enjoyed a fascinating presentation from Gordon Macrae, Special Projects Manager of Gripple on 18 Oct 2012.   Among other things, Gordon spoke about Incub, his company's new product ideas bootcamp which will work with up to six entrepreneurs to evaluate the idea from a technical and market perspective.  Just the sort of thing that inventors need.

Sheffield Inventors Group will welcome Steve Van Dulken on 5 Nov 2012 who gave an excellent presentation to Leeds Inventors on 18 July 2012 (see the Leeds Inventors blog post of his talk for the 18 July 2012). Like me, Steve is a blogger and his "Patent Search Blog" is well worth following.  As I am discussing Sheffield Inventors I should like to express sincere thanks on behalf of the whole membership to Lynne Hinchcliffe for all her sterling work for the group which has grown steadily under her stewardship.  We wish her a long and happy retirement. We look forward to working with Lynne's successor Nicola Avella and congratulate her on her appointment.

Turning from intellectual property to intellectual assets, Huddersfield Choral Society began its winter season with an interesting programme of Vaughan Williams's "Five Mystical Songs" and Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem". Both works offered great scope for Roderick Williams, the baritone soloist who was excellent. There was less scope for a soprano (which was a pity as we had Sarah Tynan) and the chorus; but there was at least one opportunity to hear the inimitable Huddersfield sound in "Der Tod ist verschlungen in der Sieg" in the penultimate movement.  Performing with the Choral was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, one of my favourite orchstras, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, one of my favourite conductors.

If you want to discuss any of those topics call me on  0113 320 3232 or send me a message through my contact form. You can also follow me on FacebookLinkedin, twitter or Xing.

14 October 2012

How Small Businesses in Yorkshire can protect their Intellectual Property

The Patents County Court Small Claims Track from Jane Lambert

I have spent most of my career at the intellectual property bar championing small and medium enterprises in the North of England.  Until very recently I would encourage their solicitors and patent and trade mark attorneys to issue proceedings in the Leeds or some other Chancery District Registry unless the claim related to patents, registered or registered Community designs, semiconductor topographies or plant breeders' rights.   The reason I did that is that is that the chancery judges in Leeds have been every bit as good as those in the Royal Courts of Justice - at least since Richard Scott was appointed Vice-Chancellor - and it is nearly always cheaper and more convenient for a business owner and his solicitors in Yorkshire to litigate in Leeds than traipse down to London.

Nearly all these cases were claims for injunctions and in almost every case the action was settled on undertakings or when the claimant obtained or was refused an interim injunction.   In very few of those settlements did the defendant agree to pay any damages at all to the claimant.   In the few cases where he or she did so agree, those damages seldom exceeded £5,000.   It is very rare for an intellectual property claim to go to trial and rarer still for there to be an account of profits or inquiry as to damages.   Indeed, I have had only one brief for an inquiry and that took place in London before Master Bragge.

It follows that many, if not most, of those cases could have been brought before the small claims track of the Patents County Court had it existed at the time.   That jurisdiction has power to grant injunctions and other relief in any intellectual property claim provided that the claim for damages is less than £5,000 except claims involving patents, registered or registered Community designs, semiconductor topographies and plant breeders rights which must still be brought in the Patents Court or the multitrack of the Patents County Court. Thus the small claims judges could hear claims by an inventor against a prospective licensee or investor for the breach of a non-disclosure agreement, an established trader against an upstart competitor who has adopted a similar trade name and labelling or a small manufacturer whose nifty merchandise has been knocked off.

The costs that can be recovered in the small claims track are very low:   up to £260 if counsel or solicitors have been instructed in relation to an injunction plus the costs of issuing proceedings which ranges between £35 and £120 depending on the amount of damages sought and compensation for travelling and loss of earnings for attending a hearing.   Accordingly, the risks are very low which means that intellectual property owners cannot be stymied by security for costs applications.   The procedure has been simplified in that there will be limited disclosure, the strict rules of evidence are relaxed, evidence need not be given on oath, cross-examination can be limited and anyone can represent a party at a hearing even if he or she is not qualified as a lawyer or patent or trade mark attorney.   Indeed, many cases are likely be disposed on on paper.

The Ministry of Justice has appointed no less than five district judges and deputy district judges to this new small claims track of a very high calibre, including the head of litigation of a mobile phone manufacturer, the legal adviser to the Society of Authors, a former partner of Linklaters and a former partner of Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (now Clyde & Co,).   Clearly, the Ministry expects the court to be busy and by the quality of its appointments it has shown that it means business.   As counsel I have great confidence in all of those judges.

So, how do you or your solicitors use this new tribunal?   I gave a brief guide in the above presentation to Sheffield Inventors Group on 1 October 2012 which you can download.   If you missed it I shall give the same presentation again to the Liverpool Inventors Club at the offices of QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter at 88 Church Street in Liverpool on 29 October at 17:00.   If you want to attend you can book on-line or call Michael Sandys of QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter on 0151 282 1700.   Admission is free but as space is limited you will need a ticket.

If you don't want to negotiate the M62 or the start of the Merseyside rush hour here is a step by step guide as to what to do:

  1. Ask the other side nicely to stop whatever they are doing.   You need to send a letter before claim in accordance with Annex A of the Practice Direction - Pre-Action Conduct.  You must be careful how do that otherwise you could end up getting sued yourself for groundless threats as indeed could your solicitor if he does not know much about intellectual property. I kid you not.  I have given some guidance as to how that can be done in "IP Dispute Resolution in England and Wales: why sending a US style “Cease and Desist Letter” or old style “Letter before Action” may not be a good idea" JD Supra 13 Jan 2012 and I have even drafted a model letter before claim for a design right dispute.  You are likely to be better off getting a barrister, solicitor or patent or trade mark attorney to draft such a letter for you and I will do one for you or your solicitor for a fixed fee if you want to get in touch. You are likely to be even better off if you get a specialist solicitor to put it on her notepaper and, if you don't have a specialist solicitor in Yorkshire, Kate Reid of Pemberton Reid sends letters drafted by me on her stationery for an extra £100 + VAT.  I have arranged with solicitors and patent and trade mark agents in other parts of the country to offer similar deals to my clients.
  2. Issue your claim form out of the Rolls Building    A claim form is what we used to call a writ and blank forms can be downloaded from HMCT Service website or obtained from the Court. You have to issue it out of the public counter of the Rolls Building off Fetter Lane in London and pay the fee that I mentioned above.   The claim form must be accompanied by particulars of claim which should set out your claim in detail.  In addition to specifying your right, how it has been infringed and the remedy you require you must say that you have complied with the Practice Direction - Pre-Action Conduct and that you want this case to proceed in the small claims track.   Again, this is tricky and you main need some help.   Again, I am happy to settle particulars of claim for a fixed fee if you would like to contact me,   You must then serve the claim form with the particulars of claim and a response that on the other side or get the court to do it for you.   It is very important that you serve all the paperwork or you case will stall and any order or relief that you may be granted will be set aside.
  3. Wait for the other side to respond.   They have a fixed time to lodge their defence and any counterclaim against you the duration of which will depend on whether you complied with the Practice Direction.   If they don't lodge their defence in time you can apply to the court for judgment in default of defence which will probably require a hearing if you want an injunction.   If they do respond in time the court will give directions which may include fixing a date for a final or a preliminary hearing.   You must comply with all the directions of the court within the time specified if you want to get into or remain in the judge's good books.    
  4. Attend the Hearing    Unless the judge has indicated that your case is suitable to be disposed of in writing and everyone has agreed you must attend the hearing which will take place in the Thomas Moore Building in the Royal Courts of Justice which is a few hundred yards from the Rolls Building.   The judges of the Patents and Patents County Court have said in their guide that they will sit in London for the convenience of the parties and to save costs but I have only known a few occasions when they have done so.   You should have enough notice of the hearing to book a saver ticket and a Travelodge so it is hardly going to break the bank if you go to London and you should get some of your dosh back if you win.   Also, you and your Mrs. (or hubby) can combine a trip to the court with a visit to some of the other attractions that the Smoke has to offer.
If you want to learn more about this small claims track there is loads of info including links to my other articles and other guidance at "Patents County Court - the New Small Claims Track Rules" 20 Sept 2012 in my IP/IT Update blog.   You can also give me a bell on   0113 320 3232 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            0113 320 3232      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or send me a message through Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter or indeed my contact form.

30 September 2012

Kirklees Business Conference

Kirklees Business Conference is an exhibition and series of seminars that takes place at the Glapharm stadium in the last week of September. It is the highpoint of Kirklees Business Week.  The Conference is one of a series of events that are organized by Yorkshire Business Conferences throughout the year.  Others are held at various times in other towns and cities in the county.

I visited the exhibition and attended a question and answer session with Ajaz Ahmed, Dean Hoyle and Graham Leslie.

There were some interesting exhibitors bit the ones that caught my eye were the Nanofactory, the Design Council, Leeds City Region, Finance Yorkshire and Eaton Smith. Surprisingly there was nobody from the Intellectual Property Office, :Leeds Patent Information Unit or any of the local patent agencies.  That promoted me to ask Messrs. Ahmed, Hoyle and Leslie why Yorkshire businesses were so uninterested in innovation (see "If Yorkshire were a country ........" 8 Aug 2012).

The answer that I got from Mr Leslie are that Yorkshire folk are not good at shouting about their  achievements.  Really?   Most anecdotes about Yorkshire folk note a superfluity of self-confidence rather than a dearth.   The panel agreed that we need to do something about reviving manufacturing and particularly volume manufacturing.   I pointed out that Yorkshire folk are unlikely to work for the sort of wages available in Brazil, China or India.   Finally, Ajaz Ahmed revealed that he loves shopping.  "Quite unusual for a man" he admitted.   Earlier in the week he had driven all the way to Chester to look at a new retailer.   But then that's his business.

27 September 2012

Launch of Huddersfield University's 3M Buckley Innovation Centre

At last year's Kirklees Business Week, Bob Cryan, Vice-Chancellor of Huddersfield University, announced plans to set up an innovation centre. This year's Kirklees Business Week saw the centre's launch by the Calderdale and Kirklees Manufacturing Alliance and I was there to support it.

The centre is known as the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.  According to its website it is a "3,600 square metre. purpose built specialist environment creating a business facing centre for collaboration and research" which is intended to "act as a catalyst to promote business to business and business to higher education collaborations."

The Centre is built around "Innovation Avenue" which appears to be the central corridor shown on the floor plan to the left. The spaces on either side of that corridor will be let to businesses.  Tenants will enjoy access to such facilities as
- design and modelling
- prototyping and manufacturing
- workshops and wet laboratories
- precision measurement, and
- virtual laboratories
at the Centre.   In addition they will be able to enjoy many of the University's resources such as its library.

In his welcome speech, Patrick Allen, the Centre's Managing Director, explained that the mission was to provide access to growth. This was to be achieved through access to finance, access to markets and access to technology.   The University proposes to introduce its tenants to financial institutions, investors and professionals of all kinds who can provide such access. There will be a virtual community of tenants, investors, professionals and prominent business leaders who will mentor the tenants.

Other speakers at the event included

  • Isobel Mills of the Leeds Office of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills who raised quite a guffaw when she mentioned Vince Cable's Industrial Strategy
  • Brian Aungiers from UKTI who spoke about export, 
  • a chap from MAS (Manufacturing Advisory Service)    called Steve who spoke at length about his organization, its consortium members and how they divide the country and 
  • David Boath of PERA who gave the most entertaining presentation of the evening on how a good design for a dishwasher can come from designing the worst possible dishwasher not to mention poaching salmon in a dishwasher which is how a lady in Usk uses her appliance.
The whole of Yorkshire - nay the whole of .the whole of the North England and beyond - seem to have innovation centres where universities and businesses meet one another - yet, as I pointed out in my intervention to Mr. Allen, innovation in this region lags well behind South East England.   Will the 3M Buckley make a difference and, if so, why?

I for one will certainly do my best to help the Centre.  I have offered to help on behalf of my network of patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors, product design consultants, angels, financial institutions and other contacts with talks, clinics and any other way I can.

14 September 2012

Northern Ballet's Ondine

Undine, a fairy tale by Friedrich de la Motte Fouquée has inspired several films including Neil Jordan's, a number of operas including Tchaikovsky's and at least three ballets of which the most famous is probably Sir Frederick Ashton's. Ashton created the ballet for Dame Margot Fonteyn.to a score by Hans Werner Henze in 1958. It is a major three act work and was one of the Royal Ballet's staples in its golden age.  No wonder the choreographer David Nixon felt "intimidated by the history of Ashton's interpretation and the beautiful and challenging score of Henze" when asked to stage the work for Ballet du Rhin  and Northern Ballet.

I drove to the West Yorkshire Playhouse yesterday with considerable apprehension last night because I have seen Fonteyn dance and admire greatly Ashton's work. As I have said in "Ballet and Intellectual Property - my Excuse for reviewing 'Beauty and the Beast'" 31 Dec 2011 and "Cracking Nuts - Copyright in Choreography" IP North West 24 Nov 2011, Northern Ballet is a good company and Nixon is a good choreographer but could they really carry this off?   Well as a matter of fact they have - and spectacularly.   In my humble opinion this is Nixon's best work yet.  Indeed, it is probably Northern Ballet's best work to date.

Though he has kept Henze's score Nixon's Ondine is very different from Ashton's.  Instead of a sprite appearing in a waterfall, Nixon's story begins with a child on a beach teasing a fisherman by stepping in his nets. That child is Ondine and her appearance in the prologue sets the theme for the rest of the ballet.  Last night that role was performed delightfully by Caitlin Noonan of the Northern Ballet Academy.   The grown up Ondine (Martha Leebold), falls in love not with Palemon but with a knight called Brand (Tobias Batley). They marry to the distress of Beatrice, (not Berta) danced by Dreda Blow.  A sort of Giselle in reverse but instead of tragedy Ondine takes pity on Beatrice and allows her to live with her and her husband. The ménage à trois turns out not to be a good idea and Beatrice and Brand decide to take a boat trip.  Brand's eyes wander towards Beatrice, a storm erupts and Ondine jumps overboard. Thinking that Ondine is dead Brand and Beatrice decide to marry but just as they do another storm breaks out and the sprite Ondine reappears from the sea to reclaim her husband.

The ballet creates very powerful roles not only for the three principals, Leabolod, Batley and Blow but also for Sebastian Low who danced the priest and Kevin Poeung and Hironao Takahashi and indeed several soloists and coryphees in a spectacular wedding divertissement in the third act. All were good and it is perhaps unfair to name names but my eye was caught by Matthew Broadbent.   I am sure the public will see a lot of him in the next few years.

The final ingredient of the success of the work was Jerome Kaplan's set and costumes working skilfully projected with the lighting team. Surf, for example, was represented by the hems of the girls' skirts as they entered silently onto the stage in the prologue and left silently at the end. The waves and eddies of the sea by ingenious photography or lighting that suggested photography.

All very well but this is supposed to be an intellectual property blog not an arts paper I hear my readers say. Well so it is and here is my IP lesson. Before the show an announcer warned the audience not to take any photos or movies with phones or cameras. Why? Because this ballet was a performance falling within Part II of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and performers rights are infringed by any fixation (that is to say recording) without their consent.  Bootlegging - filming and taping on an industrial scale - is actually an offence under the Act as well as an infringement of the  dancers' economic and moral rights.

Northern Ballet's Ondine is at the Quarry Theatre in the West Yorkshire Playhouse until tomorrow.

12 September 2012

Leeds City Region Growing Places Fund: £26 million Loan Fund

Earlier today a conference and exhibition took place at Bradford University to launch Base Leeds City Region. I was unable to attend the event so I have to rely on the event website which states that it would  "promote the City Region as a low carbon location and highlight opportunities arising from initiatives that are under way." I noticed that there had been similar events in London and Glasgow that had involved many of the great and the good of our country. All very worthy stuff.

Looking through the programme the item that caught my eye was an announcement by Neil McLean (Chair of Leeds City Region LEP) of a £26 million fund  for projects that are ready, but have been delayed and now need support to proceed.  This is known as the "Growing Places Fund" and appears to be open to all businesses and organizations of any size based in or looking to invest in the Leeds City Region. The fund will provide loans of between £250,000 and £5 million for capital investment in infrastructure such as expansion of business premises or the development of new road junctions.  Full details of the scheme are set out in the prospectus. Expressions of interest have to be communicated on a form that can be downloaded from the LEP's website by 1 Nov 2012.

There is also an interesting article on the Growing Places Fund and the Base Leeds City event by Ian Briggs on the Business Desk Website ("Growing Places Fund offers development opportunities" 11 Sep 2012).

29 August 2012

Yorkshire LEPs One Year After the Armouries

James Reed's article "LEPs unite to back energy hub bid" in today's Business Desk prompts a review of the county's local enterprise partnerships one year on from the very successful Local Enterprise Partnership Summit at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on 9 Sep 2011 (see my post "LEP Summit: My Impressions of the Day as a Delegate" 10 Sep 2011). The Summit welcomed representatives from other Northern LEPs and the question of regional co-operation was touched upon although they were more than counterbalanced by inter-regional rivalries.

Reed's article mentions an example of practical regional co-operation.  The four LEP's have joined forces to back 2CO Energy and and the White Rose CCS Project that could make Yorkshire a centre for green energy production. According to Reed, the LEPs are urging the Government to help fund those projects t as a first step to creating a 'cluster' of expertise in carbon capture and storage technology.  Reid continues:
"The demise of regional development agency Yorkshire Forward and the creation of local enterprise partnerships raised concerns that the new bodies would become preoccupied with local concerns and not act together.
That idea has always been rejected by the LEP chairmen and their united support for the region's pioneering CCS projects is the most high profile example of collaboration between the four bodies to date."
Yorkshire and the Humber now have four local enterprise partnerships and three of them have their own websites:

 If anyone wants to discuss this topic with me further, he or she can contact me through my contact form, Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter or call me on 0113 320 3232 .

8 August 2012

If Yorkshire were a country ......

Yesterday's Independent carried an article about the success of sportsmen and women from Yorkshire in the London Olympics: "London 2012: Yorkshire - the county that's trouncing Australia in the Olympic medal table" Independent 7 Aug 2012. It continued
If Yorkshire were a country....
1. China: 31 Gold, 19 Silver, 14 Bronze = 64 medals
2. USA: 29 Gold, 15 Silver, 19 Bronze = 63 Medals
3. Great Britain (minus Yorkshire): 14 Gold, 10 Silver, 11 Bronze = 35 medals
4. South Korea: 11 Gold, 5 silver, 6 bronze = 22 medals
5. France: 8 Gold, 9 Silver, 9 Bronze = 26 medals
6. Russia: 7 Gold, 17 Silver, 18 Bronze = 42 medals
7. Italy: 7 Gold, 6 Silver, 4 Bronze = 17 medals
8. Kazakhstan: 6 Gold, 0 Silver, 1 Bronze = 7 medals
9. Germany: 5 Gold, 10 Silver, 7 Bronze = 22 medals
10. Yorkshire 5 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze = 8 medals
Meanwhile sporting powerhouses Australia, South Africa and Japan languish behind....
16. South Africa: 3 Gold, 1, Silver, 0 Bronze = 4 medals
18. Japan: 2 Gold, 12 Silver, 14 Bronze = 28 medals
19. Australia: 2 Gold, 12 Silver, 8 Bronze = 22 medals
Now that is all well and good but you can't eat gold medals. It is innovation that brings in the brass.  So how do we do in that league?   Not very well, I'm afraid.

According to the Intellectual Property Office's Facts and Figures: 2010 and 2011 Calendar Years Yorkshire lies fifth from bottom in the number of patents granted in 2011:
Region                                                     Number
South East England                                    591
East of England                                          409
London                                                      401
South West England                                   363
North West England                                   246
West Midlands                                           216
Scotland                                                    207
Yorkshire                                                  175
East Midlands                                             155
Wales                                                            82
North East England                                      70
Northern Ireland                                            16    
(page 1).

We do even worse in trade mark registrations:

London                                                     7,089
South East England                                    3,992
North West England                                  2,628
South West England                                   2,047
East of England                                          2,029
North East England                                    1,962
West Midlands                                           1,727
East Midlands                                             1,282
Scotland                                                     1,237
Wales                                                            621
Northern Ireland                                            201
Yorkshire                                                     186 
(page 16)

And we are bottom of the list in design registrations too:

London                                                        649
South East England                                       563
West Midlands                                             416
North West England                                     399
South West England                                      346
North East England                                       330
Scotland                                                        229
East of England                                              213
East Midlands                                                171
Wales                                                            116
Northern Ireland                                               29
Yorkshire                                                        25
(page 26).

Bearing in mind that we have great universities like Bradford - one of the first with a business school and arguably the first to offer a degree in computer science - the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham, Digital Region in Sheffield, the Northern Technology Institute in Leeds, the Leeds College of Art and PatLib libraries in Leeds and Sheffield we really ought to do better. We can't afford to be complacent.

23 June 2012

Who Needs London?

If the National Media Museum were in London we would never hear the end of it. Because it is in Bradford we don't hear enough about it.

This wonderful institution is part of the National Museum of  Science and Industry which includes the Science Museum in South Kensington and the National Railway Museum in York.  Here are just some of its offerings:
  • "The Museum is home to over 3.5 million items of historical significance. We look after the National Photography, National Cinematography, National Television and National New Media Collections
  • Traditional and interactive galleries located across eight floors of the Museum investigate and celebrate film, photography, television, animation and new media.
  • Two gallery spaces display a changing programme of exhibitions which are inspired by our Collection.
  • The touring exhibitions programme enables us to share our exhibitions and the National Collections with audiences across the UK and abroad.
  • The Museum is the home of the BBC in Bradford. Visitors can watch presenters and researchers collating news stories and broadcasting online and on-air in this real, working exhibit.
  • The UK's first IMAX theatre opened right here in Bradford. It continues to offer an exciting programme of 3D and blockbuster films for that essential, all-embracing viewing experience.
  • The Museum houses two other cinemas which can accommodate a wide range of film formats. Our Pictureville and Cubby Broccoli cinemas host an impressive film programme, from cult classics to contemporary art house cinema.
  • Pictureville cinema boasts the only permanent, regularly programmed Cinerama installation in Europe, a magnet for enthusiasts worldwide.
  • The Museum organises three major film festivals every year: Bradford International Film Festival, Bradford Animation Festival and Fantastic Films Weekend.
  • A comprehensive programme of cultural and educational events and activities bring the Museum's subject matter to life for families, schools and adults alike.
  • Archive is our quarterly publication which is produced to complement the Museum's cultural programme and highlight objects from the Collection.
  • For a venue with a difference, the Museum can provide the setting for a whole spectrum of events, from birthday celebrations to corporate conferences.
  • Membership @ National Media Museum gives visitors the opportunity to experience everything that we have to offer with added value and exclusivity, while supporting the National Media Museum right here in Bradford."
Other bloggers such as Barbara Cookson and Gita Mistry have written about the Museum.

I should like to mention just two special events.   First, a programme of ballets, concerts, plays and other live performances streamed live from such venues as the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the National Theatre in London.  Tomorrow they are showing Raymonda to which I am looking forward very much.  The other special events are the London 2012 Olympic Games in Super Hi Vision which are free. They are advertised as the best seats at the Games and I am sure they are right.

Yorkshire folk are not easily impressed and they never admit to being impressed even when they are.  They are very lucky to have this museum and should celebrate it more. 

28 May 2012

"SpeedFunding", Lean Startups and Teaching Children about Invention

On 29 March 2012 I wrote that my friend Amanda Lennon had been appointed to run Angels Den in Yorkshire and the Humber. On 14 May 2012 I was delighted to introduce Amanda to the Sheffield Inventors Group to speak on "Raising Business Growth Investment- alternatives to bank finance".  She attracted a good audience and held their attention for the best part of two hours.

After outlining the types of funding available and how to raise it, Amanda focused on equity funding in general and angel investment in particular.   She told us who angels were and what they did.   She discussed angel networks such as Angels' Den and their relationships with angels and entrepreneurs before introducing us to her company.

Angels Den differs from other angel networks in that it pioneered a process called "SpeedFunding"(TM).   According .to its website the concept is rather like speed dating. Entrepreneurs are given an opportunity to pitch their proposition individually to a number of angels for up to 3 minutes at a time.   The advantages of this process to the entrepreneur is that he or she gets an opportunity to refine his or her pitch and possibly his or her business model as well as meet a wider selection of potential investors than would otherwise be the case in the course of the session.   I imagine that it can also be very entertaining - at least for the angels.

When Amanda spoke about "SpeedFunding" (TM) I was immediately reminded of Eric Ries's concept of "the lean startup", a process that I mentioned in my Inventors Club blog (see "Lean Startup" 6 May 2012).   Could the 3 minute pitch be compared to the "minimal viable product" and the angels to "early adopters"? I asked myself.   If you want to learn more about "lean startup" there is a lean startup group in Manchester which meets regularly at the Manchester Business School and I know there was a meeting at Sheffield University last week to set up a similar group in Yorkshire.   If you contact me I would be glad to pass your name on to the organizer

Anyway, returning to Angels Den, the company appears to offer more conventional ways of raising equity funding, though those appear to be more expensive than "SpeedFunding" (TM) (see "How much do you charge" on the Angels' Den website).   The company charges £799 + VAT for the SpeedFunding (TM) package plus a 5% success fee when funding is raised.   Apparently, entrepreneurs get opportunities to choose the approach at "funding clinics" held from time to time and to develop their pitch at training sessions known as "pitch school" (see "10 steps to getting funded through Angels Den").

While I do not endorse any particular angel network and emphasize that angel funding is not for everyone I hope to arrange a forum where angels can meet some of the bright lads and lasses from the North's inventors' clubs and "FabLabs" in July as well as a Northern innovation academy in September.   I will invite Amanda or one of her colleagues to speak at both events.

Sheffield and the other great cities of Yorkshire indicate that this county once had an entrepreneurial culture which must have been very similar to that of Silicon Valley in the 1980s and perhaps the BRIC and CIVETS countries today.   Can this can do culture be revived?   The success of Silicon Roundabout and Tech City in London shows there is no reason why it cannot.   Many of those responsible for those new businesses in London were either born or educated in Yorkshire.   The well known inventor Trevor Baylis has suggested that pupils should be taught about innovation and enterprise at school.   Visiting the Sheffield Quaker meeting house yesterday I was delighted to see in the children's meeting (equivalent of Sunday school) a popup book on invention for young children.   It was attractive, entertaining and informative.   Leafing through the pages, I learned something new from it even though I am old enough to have been the kids' grandmother and have practised patent law for the last 35 years.   That sort of book could do more good in the long term than the loan scheme announced by the Prime Minister today (see "PM wants start-up loans scheme to help young" 28 May 2012 on the BBC website).

If anyone wants to discuss this article further, call me on 0113 320 3232 or click here.

10 May 2012

Hull Digital

I have already mentioned my visit to Hull for the Screen Yorkshire Roadshow on 3 May (see "Screen Yorkshire Roadshow: £15m for TV, film, games and digital sectors" 4 May 2012). Shortly after that presentation I found my way to the Fudge Restaurant which hosted the May Meetup of the Hull Digital Developer Group.

Before I discuss the evening I should say a word about Hull Digital. It describes itself on the "About" page of its website as Hull and East Yorkshire’s Digital and Technology Community. Apparently it was launched in 2009 and has "an awesome mix of members" who write about:
  • Local news, events and happenings in the online world
  • Apps and the mobile space
  • Clever devices / web-connected devices
  • Anything about the web
  • Broadband and connectivity
  • Home and business computing
  • Gadgets
  • And many more great topics!.
The group was founded by Jon Moss of theappleofmyi who has apparently organized East Yorkshire's Digital Conference in 2009 with an impressive line up of speakers. Members of Hull Digital keep in touch through a Meetup Group. In addition the developers meetups Hull Digital holds regular "techy breakfasts" at the Fudge.  The next one for anyone who may be interested will be on 25 May 2012.

I heard two good presentations last week.   
  • Marc Towler, a freelance PHP developer, whose presentation  "Open Source, the way forward?" was an excellent introduction and overview of open source software; and
  • Adam Jennison, who is not actually a black and white cat but a systems administrator, developer and systems integrator for Hull City Council. Adam's talk was entitled "Restful APIs" and discussed how the local authority intends to make some of its data available to local developers.
Both talks were very interesting and though I am not a developer I look forward to returning for more.   

4 May 2012

Screen Yorkshire Roadshow: £15m for TV, film, games and digital sectors

On Wednesday I received an email from Hull Digital about a talk to be given by Screen Yorkshire on a new £15m content fund for TV, film, games and digital sectors at the World Trade Centre in Hull. I have since discovered that was a stop on a roadshow by Chief Executive Sally Joynson and Head of Production Hugo Heppell.   It has already visited Bradford and Barnsley and will be at the Workstation Sheffield today.  It will also go to York on 8 May, Huddersfield on the 14 and Leeds on the 31. The talk is free and bookings are made through Eventrbrite.

The World Trade Centre in Hull is not quite the same landmark as its namesake had been in New York.  Not everybody in that city has heard of it and none of those who have had a clear idea of where it was. I drove to the address in Queen Street on the Eventrbrite print out only to be re-directed by the signposts and passers by to a desolate looking office block that would not have looked out of place in the German Democratic Republic known as "Humber Quays." Once I had penetrated the security of Humber Quays I was told by the porter that the WTC had been there but had moved out but neither he nor anyone else in that Lubyanka quite knew where.  Hull city centre is bisected by a dual carriageway so a journey of a few hundred yards from one end of the waterfront to another can take quite a long time - especially in the middle of the afternoon,   Once I had found my way back to Queen Street, I parked on a bit of waste ground that proclaimed itself as a car park only by its ticket machine and proceeded on heels past every building in the street - many of which were unoccupied - until I eventually found the modest façade of the WTC.  As a result of this perambulation I missed Sally's presentation altogether and caught only the last few slides of Hugo's.

However, the event was still well worth attending.   Screen Yorkshire is now the only regional agency to support film, television or interactive media in its area and it has done some very good work. Recent productions include Wuthering HeightsThis is England 86 and  Red Riding.  Like everything else, public funding for film and TV has been cut since the change of government.   Save for the regional growth fund and Broadband Delivery UK there has been very little public money for anything.  So when I received Hull Digital's email about this £15 million cornucopia, my ears pricked up

Half of the money comes from Europe - more specifically the European Regional Development Fund channelled through the Department of Communities and Local Government - while the other half will come from unspecified other sources.   The scheme is known as the Yorkshire Content Fund and its object is "to address a gap in the market place by providing targeted co-investment finance into companies based in Yorkshire and the Humber producing creative content projects, and to develop innovative approaches to further investment in the digital and new media sector."   Funds under the scheme will be investments and not grants.   Those investments will be made in projects and companies across the whole range of digital media activity including film and television production, videogames, mobile content and ‘apps’, web-based and digital media products. However projects must be initiated by Yorkshire-based companies or by SMEs attracted into or started up in the county.  Further information on the scheme is available from an "Overview"  and expressions of interest can be registered through the following form.

After the presentation I asked Hugo whether funding under the scheme would take the form of a loan or equity investment. He replied that it would be neither but "quasi-equity".  When I pressed him as to what he meant by "quasi equity" he replied that it would be "a charge over the intellectual property".  As he had told someone else that Screen Yorkshire would retain a stake in a licensable character until it had been bought out, I asked Hugo whether that would mean that Screen Yorkshire would expect an assignment of copyrights or rights over performances to which he replied that it would mean that Screen Yorkshire would take a charge over the revenues.  

It is clear that anybody thinking of taking advantage of this scheme whether as a content producer (film maker, developer or otherwise) or as an investor - will require specialist professional advice.   If anyone wants to discuss it with me further, he or she can contact me through my contact formFacebookLinkedinXing or twitter or call me on 0113 320 3232 .

2 May 2012

FabLab Airedale: Introductory Offer and Visit

FabLab Airedale is open at last. We had been looking forward to it for months just as children look forward to Father Christmas (see "A FabLab for Keighley" 9 Nov 2011 and "FabLabs for Yorkshire: Progress Report" 16 Jan 2012).  Now I have actually seen it.   I visited it on 20 April 2012 and was given a grand tour by the manager, James Kitson (see my report "Keighley FabLab opens for Business" in my Inventors Club blog of 1 May 2012).

I also met Jane Bilous, the Masterplan Delivery Officer of the Airedale Partnership, while I was there and Jane, James and I discussed a number of ways in which we could co-operate.   The first of these will be a visit by the Leeds Inventors Group on 16 May 2012 between 18:00 and 19:45 (see "16th May Leeds Inventors Group -visit to Fablab Airedale" in the Leeds Inventors Group blog of 30 April 2012).   As there will not be a meeting of the Sheffield Inventors Group in May because the first Monday falls on a public holiday, inventors from Sheffield are also invited.   It will be the first opportunity for members of the two Yorkshire clubs to meet.  Places however are limited so you must call Ged or Stef of Leeds Central Library on 0113 247 8266 to book your place.

Other projects that we discussed were an introductory seminar on IP like the ones we gave to FabLab Manchester on 12 Oct 2011 (see "FabLab Manchester: Introduction to Intellectual Property" IP North West 8 Nov 2012) and Freerange Artists in Carlisle on 8 March 2012 (see "Introducing IP to Freerange Artists in Carlisle" IP North West 10 March 2012), a funding workshop with business angels, bankers, community development finance institutions and venture capitalists and maybe an inventors' academy in conjunction with the Manchester FabLab, Carlisle's Freerange and the Sheffield Refab Space.

For a limited period, businesses in the metropolitan district of Bradford can receive up to one day's free machinery time and technical support from the FabLab staff which could include rapid prototyping, 3D printing or other consultancy. Since commercial design agencies charge a lot of money for those services, this could be quite a saving.   Call 01535 606703 or email info@fablabairedale.org  to register your interest.

If anybody has any questions or comments about this post or FabLabs generally, he or she can contact me through my contact form,, Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter or call me on 0113 320 3232 .

29 March 2012

Lennon to run Angels' Den in Yorkshire and the Humber

Yesterday I received an email from Amanda Lennon to say that she is now running Angels Den in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Amanda has recently returned to the UK from New Zealand where she worked for a number of enterprises in the public and private sectors. These included project management for the Rugby World Cup in Auckland, Commercial Manager of the Geospatial Research Centre and Incubator Manager of powerHouse, a university incubation service in Christchurch. I first met Amanda when she ran the University of Huddersfield "Business Mine" and later set up and ran the Bradford IP clinic for her at Velocity.

Angels Den is one of the biggest angel networks in the UK with branches throughout the nation and overseas. I have already written about the Qatar network in NIPC Gulf ("Angels' Den in Qatar" 26 Sept 2011) and they have expressed interest in participating a seminar for the FabLabs and similar organizations which I discussed with Haydn Insley of Manchester FabLab after his presentation to the Liverpool Inventors Club last month (see "Liverpool Inventors Club Re-launched" IP North West 29 Feb 2012).

Angels are equity investors who often can offer skills and experience as well as capital to promising start-ups and other small and medium enterprises. They fill the gap between fools, friends and family and private equity. For an introduction, see my article on "Business Angels" on the NIPC Inventors Club website and "On the Side of the Angels" on my chambers website on the 6 July 2011 and my article "What Business Angels and VCs need to know about IP" on 21 June 2011.

Amanda can be contacted by email at Amanda@angelsden.co.uk or by telephone on  07805 313904.

If anybody has any questions or comments about this post or angels funding generally, he or she can contact me through my contact form,, Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter or call me on 0113 320 3232 .

1 March 2012

"Refab - a fabrication laboratory for Sheffield"

Last week I reported Integreatplus's "Learning Lunch" at the Electric Works in Sheffield.  One of the two star speakers was James Wallbank of Access Space.  Access Space has recently been listed as number 2 in The Guardian and Nesta's pantheon on Britain's 50 New Radicals. So James is something of a celebrity.

Sheffield Inventors Group is delighted to welcome him as guest speaker on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 18:00.   

The title of his talk will be on "Refab - a fablab for Sheffield".  He will talk about Refab-Space and what it can do for inventors, craftsmen and women, artists, designers and entrepreneurs in South Yorkshire.   Since some of those bods will set up businesses that will require professional services and investment, this talk should also appeal to patent and trade mark agents, design consultants, angles and banks in the county.

The meeting will take place at
Surrey Street,
S1 1XZ.
Admission is free but you are strongly advised to book your place in advance.   Call or email Lynne Hichcliffe on 0114 273 4736 to let her know you are coming.   The last Sheffield Inventors Club meeting was packed.  Standing room only.

24 February 2012

Integreatplus's Learning Lunch: Refab Space and FabLab

There was definitely a touch of Spring in the air today as I followed the Don to Sheffield. According to my car's thermometer the temperature hit 18 degrees Celsius at one point which is almost unheard of for February in Yorkshire.

The early taste of Spring was a good backdrop for Integreat Plus's Learning Lunch which was the reason for my journey. The topic was "What are these Fablabs". The speakers were James Wallbank, chief executive officer of Access Space, and the Manufacturing Institute's Eddie Kirkby.  They had a good audience which included academics like Prof. Paul Atkinson of Sheffield Hallam University, product designers like Dan Taylor of Click Industrial Design, architects from SKINN (Shalesmoor, Kelham Island and Neepsend Network) not to mention a respectable delegation from the local authority.

James's presentation was particularly timely as Access Space had been listed as number 2 in NESTA and The Guardian's list of 50 New Radicals (see Geoff Mulgan's article in The Guardian on 18 Feb 2012). James spoke about the work of Access Space which brings together learners from all kinds of backgrounds and gives them hands on experience of computing through working on recycled hardware and open source software. The project has inspired similar centres around the world and there are now 100 across Europe and Latin America.   Access Space's latest project is the Refab-Space which will be a fabrication laboratory for Sheffield.

Manchester, of course, already has a FabLab and Eddie Kirkby is one of its prime movers.  I first met him at the breakfast meeting in Daresbury and was bowled over by the project (see "FabLab Manchester" in my IP North-West blog of 18 July 2011).  The two things that appeal to me about FabLab are that it places an important new technology within reach of ordinary people and its technologies bring manufacturing back to Britain.  Eddie gave some heartening news about the success of FabLab. It had attracted twice as many users as it had expected and it was paying its way commercially. More FabLabs were on the way.   Keighley in Spring 2012.  Northern Ireland some time later this year.  West of Scotland shortly after that and another centre in the North West.

The commercial success of FabLab prompted me to ask a question that had been discussed in a number of forums as to whether FabLab was taking bread out of product design and development consultants' mouths.   "Too bad if it is" was the general view, "They have to develop new business models or take the consequences."  Eddie pointed out it was too late to do anything about it because open source design software was already available.  Professor Atkinson recalled that graphic designers made similar objections to desk top publishing 20 years ago but it did not hurt them in the end as they simply changed their business models.  The product designers in the audience agreed.  The ghost of Ned Ludd was well and truly laid to rest.

For those who missed the presentations, there will be an opportunity to catch James Wallbank at Sheffield Inventors Group on 5 March 2012 at 18:00.  He will be the guest speaker at the Group's next meeting at Sheffield Central Library, Surrey Street, S1 1XZ.  He will talk about how the Refab Space can help inventors.  The talk is free but let Lynne Hichcliffe know that you are coming because it is likely to be popular.  The last meeting was packed.  Email her or give her a tinkle on 0114 273 4736.

 If you fancy a jaunt across the Pennines, Haydn Insley of the Manchester FabLab will be guest speaker at Liverpool Inventors Club next Monday (see "Liverpool Inventors Club Re-launch - Fabulous FabLab" Inventors Club 28 Jan 2012).  The meeting will take place on Monday, 27 Feb 2012 at 18:00 at the offices of QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter at 88 Church Street, Liverpool L1 3AY.

If anybody has any questions or comments, he or she can contact me through my contact form,, Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter or call me on 0113 320 3232.

31 January 2012

Meet a patent examiner at Sheffield or Leeds Inventors Group

I have just announced on my Inventors' Club blog that patent examiner Kalim Yasseen will be talking to Sheffield and Leeds Inventors Groups on 6 Feb and 15 Feb respectively. For more information, see my post
"Straight from the Horse's Mouth:"Filing a UK patent application - process and procedures".

The Sheffield will take place on 6 Feb at 18:00 at

Central Library
Surrey Street
S1 1XZ
Call Lynne Hinchcliffe  on 0114 273 4736 for further information.

The Leeds event will be at 18:00 on 15 Feb at
Central Library
Calverley Street
Call Ged or Stef  on  0113 247 8266 for more information.

Both events are free but do let the libraries know in good time whether you are coming as demand is likely to be heavy for both events.

28 January 2012

MMI v CellXion - a patent case with local interest

I've just blogged about the Court of Appeal's decision in MMI Research v CellXion and Others. The reason I mention it here is that one of the defendants, Datong Plc, is based in Leeds.

According to its press release, Datong "provides a range of advanced high performance covert intelligence gathering solutions, supplying defence, homeland security and law enforcement agencies around the world."  It employs 95 staff and distributes its goods in 37 countries,   Group turnover in the year ended 30 Sepr 2011 was £11.75 million.

Datong was joined to the action as the re-seller of mobile telephone detection equipment which is used by police and intelligence services to monitor wrongdoers' movements.

The case had twice been before the Patents Court and twice before the Court of Appeal.   More

24 January 2012

Yorkshire's Links with China

I have just returned from the Chinese New Year Show at Sheffield City Hall and was bowled over. It was an excellent show with acrobats, dancers, dragons, face changers, jugglers, pandas and even acrobats on roller skates.  The night before I attended the Liverpool Chinese Business Network's VIP Dinner in Liverpool which also had a show (see Jane Lambert "Welcome to the Year of the Dragon" IP North West 23 Jan 2012). That was very good but the Sheffield spectacular was even better. Everyone knows that there have been Chinese communities in Liverpool and Manchester for generations. What is less well known is that there is also a Chinese community in Yorkshire. Its links with China are at least as strong as the North West's.

One of the most important connections between China and Yorkshire is the Confucius Institute of Sheffield University. This is an international collaboration between the University of Sheffield, the Office of Chinese Language Council International (commonly known as Hanban), Beijing Language and Culture University and Nanjing University. Its mission includes a number of objectives the first of which is to be "a focal point for China-related activities in Sheffield and the broader region of the Midlands and Northern England."

Another connection will be the "Visions of China" theme park which is to be built in Rotherham. This £100 million project will include ornamental lakes and gardens; retail outlets; a Shaolin temple and cultural centre, a theatre, restaurants, spa, pavilions and an hotel. The project will be undertaken by the Chinese government.

In "Happy New Year - this could be the year the recovery starts"  I argued that China and other rapidly growing emerging economises would lift us from recession starting this year.   The "Visions of China" investment is one sign that that is happening.  Other signs include China Telecom's MVNO and Huawei's continuing  investment in the UK.

As the State Intellectual Property Office of China is now the second largest recipient of patent applications according to the WIPO, demand for Chinese technology is likely to increase from the UK. Should you require advice or assistance in drafting licences and technology transfer agreements, do not hesitate to call me on 0113 320 3232.