Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Young Inventors challenge

A group of young inventors from Leeds will have the chance to meet one of the world’s best at a special event this week.


Young inventors challenge: Staff from Leeds PATLIB have been working with a group of local school children with the idea of giving them an insight into what patenting is all about.....full article on the PatlibUK blog http://ow.ly/Hzmo

Young Inventors Challenge Autumn 2009 Leeds Library and Information Service is working on new project with students at Horsforth High Shool.

Young Inventors workshops at Horsforth library:

· Intro to the weird and wonderful world of patents – Find out how patents work, look at the good and the bad, those that made it and those that didn’t and more importantly how to protect your ideas.
·Applying for a patent – learn about the strange language of patents and how craftily changing a few words can keep your competitors away.
·Patent searching – Is your invention as new as you think.
·Choosing a name – what should you call your invention? Have a look at some of the names other people have use for their products. Become creative by designing your own logo.
·Market Research – build up a market profile asking who, where, and how?
·Presenting your product – show the group your ideas and explain why you think people will be rushing to buy it.

If you or your school is interested in click on the link to find out more or ring Business and Patents and ask for Tracy or Ged.0113 2478266/65

Kids Patent Sheet

Monday, 30 November 2009

There are several things you need to either do or be aware of when considering whether or not to apply for a patent for your invention.

There are several things you need to either do or be aware of when considering whether or not to apply for a patent for your invention.

1. You must not disclose your invention to anyone or put it in the public domain before applying for a patent - this doesn't mean that you can't discuss it with patent attorneys or business advisors but you should be aware of confidentiality and use non-disclosure agreements where possible.

Link to Non Disclosure leaflet


2. It is important that your invention is new if you are to have a chance of getting a patent granted - you can check this out by doing a web search - often a few words typed into a search engine such as google will produce a list of products. It is also possible to check out published patent applications on free sites such as espacenet:


tips: Always search title or abstract rather than just title and sometimes it is worth trying to find the relevant classification and searching by classification too - if you don't find anything similar on espacenet you may wish to consider having someone carry out a search for you.

We have access to several databases which we can use to do this - there is a charge of £45.00 + VAT for this service. For more information tel:0113 2478266

3. If, having satisfied yourself that there are no pre-existing applications and nothing similar on the market place you decide that you would like to protect your idea or invention in some way it might be worth looking at the costs involved and the different ways of protecting inventions, designs etc. We can send copies of the relevant booklets or the links to the on-line versions are here:






Registered Designs:


We also offer free half hour appointments with a CIPA patent attorney at our monthly clinics - http://leedsinventorsgroup.blogspot.com/2008/10/patent-clinics.html

You may also be interested in attending the monthly meetings of the Leeds Inventors group - we have speakers who talk on all aspects of getting inventions into the marketplace:

Leeds Inventor Group:


Monday, 23 November 2009

Dr Dan Bates at the Leeds Inventors Group 18 – 11 – 09

Dr Dan Bates, Ogive Intellectual Property “What can a patent do for me?” Leeds Inventors Group 18 – 11 – 09

Dan spent a number of years in industry working as an engineer for some of the largest firms such as Rover Cars & Marconi Communications. During this time he invented several engineering products himself. He then worked for a large firm of patent attorneys in Birmingham before setting up his own company – Ogive.
He briefly talked about intellectual property in general and the different types of protection available. Confidentiality is, of course, one of the easiest to get but it is difficult to commercialise a product without giving information away and it is impossible to gain any formal protection – such as a patent – without making details of the invention public.
He stressed that it is important to understand that a patent is a negative right. Having a patent granted does not in itself give you the right to produce a product only to stop others doing so - there may be other issues involved such as regulatory approval or other prior patents which may potentially be infringed.
A patent is a means to generate income, licence a product, sell a product and obtain research contracts. Dan used a number of case studies to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of patents and intellectual property generally.
The talk resulted in a lively debate and a series of questions from the audience who were clearly at differing stages and levels of experience with regard to the patenting process.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Otley Science Festival is holding a one day fair on Saturday 21 November

*************Eco inventor Emily Cummins (a star!) will be at Otley Science Fair all day 21 November.Its free. http://bit.ly/iSR8u *****************************

The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology is having an all-day table at the fair and are keen to use the opportunity to showcase a woman inventor or entrepeneur with a strong science, engineering or technology component to her work. They are looking for someone who could join them for the day (from 9am to 4pm)

Lots of adults and children will attend on the day, so it is a very good opportunity for contact with the public. If you can help please contact Ruth Wilson Tel: 01274 436132

Visit the UKRC website today:

UKRC News update:
New GetSET Women website launched: www.getsetwomen.org
GetSET Women is a unique resource in the world of SET offering women the opportunity to become more visible and promote their work.

Emily Cummins at the Leeds Inventors Group 21/10/09

Leeds student Emily Cummins has, among other things, won the Sustainable Design Award at the 2009 Women of the Year Awards, Female Innovator of the Year 2007, Technology Woman of the Future 2006 and Cosmopolitan's Ultimate Woman of the Year.
She spoke to the group of how her interest in making things work started at an early age and led eventually to great success. She puts her creativity down to the inspiration of her grandfather, in whose shed she learned at a young age to take things apart and build them up.
Her interest in solving technical problems led her to the national final of the Young Engineer of the Year at the age of 15. She pointed out that not having any knowledge at that stage of patents led to her losing the rights to her product and it turned out to be a valuable, if painful, lesson.
Always looking for a challenge she became involved with an organisation called Practical Action a charity which attempts to use simple technology to transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. She designed a water carrier from materials already available in Africa and constructed it in such a way that it would be easily repairable. This won her the Sustainable Design award.
In the meantime she had become obsessed with the idea of developing an energy-efficient fridge which could be easily used in Africa. Feeling that she needed to become more aware of the needs and limitations of the country she went to Africa, at the age of 18, to do voluntary work. She ended up extending her stay, living in a township in Namibia.
She learned a great deal about the lives and resourcefulness of the people and their opinions and suggestions helped her to improve the fridge. She encouraged them to make the fridges themselves. She hadn’t thought of making money out of it her only aim had been to help improve the situation of the people. Now thousands of them are in use.
On returning home to go to university she found that the media had got hold of the fridge story and great interest was created. Various companies offered her funding and she was nominated for the Technology Woman of the Future. This really launched things. She decided to make a commercial version of the fridge. Through meeting various high-profile personalities she was able to continually promote the fridge.
Emily is now in her final year in university and planning to go back to Africa next year. She hopes to continue developing new inventions particularly related to sustainability. Her enthusiasm and determination to make things happen - particularly for the benefit of others really stands out and as several people at the meeting commented, hers is an inspirational story.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Roland Hill at the Leeds Inventors Group 16 – 9 – 09

Roland was a partner in an engineering practice for 20 years and was involved in various structural engineering projects such as the development of Old Trafford football ground. He set up his own company Contra Vision in 1985, first on a part-time basis, becoming full-time as his ideas took off.
In 1976 he was appointed to look at the possibility of developing a demountable squash court which could be taken on tour by the national squash team. His “Courtback”™ Squash Spectator Seating System was patented and this was then followed up with the development of a demountable squash court with four unobstructed one-way vision walls. The “Safe-Screen”™ material used in this court was also patented. Using transparent panels enabled spectators – and camera crews to see into the brightly lit court from the outside.
The court was sold to the Squash Rackets Association for £100,000 but had actually cost £250,000 to build!
Putting a transparent material onto glass which allows one-way vision offered numerous opportunities – you can put a design onto it so that the design can be seen from the outside while not obscuring the view from inside. “Bus wraps” became common where adverts were placed on the windows of buses without blocking the view of the passengers. Some became like travelling billboards and this concept of advertising is now established around the world. In 1993 he suggested to BT that the material could be used for adverts on payphones. It took until 2000 before they did so. “Building wraps” became popular and the material is also used for privacy so people can see out of a window but no-one can see in. Banks and airports use them for security screens.
As Roland said, it’s always important to keep looking for improvements in an invention and to patent those improvements. He stated that if Contra Vision hadn’t done this they would no longer be in business. The original version of the material tended to fade at night when there was less light, so Roland came up with an improved version which can be artificially illuminated and therefore stands out night or day.
Roland stated that Contra Vision has always been better at inventing and patenting than producing and therefore most of their products are licenced to others. They have numerous registered trade marks in many countries and classes and also several unregistered marks. All of these marks develop value by people believing in the product and its quality and reliability.
Roland commented that it is vital for governments to support innovation but believes that in this country successive governments have little interest. For example the Danish government want a government-backed insurance for European patents against litigation but the UK government will not support this. He believes that far-sighted countries will support their inventors and inventors will go there.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Emily Cummins Speaker at the next Inventors Group

Just to let you all know that the speaker at next week's meeting - 21st October - will be Emily Cummins who, among other things has won the Sustainable Design Award at the 2009 Women of the Year Awards, Female Innovator of the Year 2007, Technology Woman of the Future 2006 and Cosmopolitan's Ultimate Woman of the Year...

Prize for electricity-free fridge

Emily's gap-year trip to Namibia meant she could improve her prototype fridge
A 22-year-old Leeds student has been named one of the Women of the Year after inventing a "sustainable" fridge.....read more at

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Innovation Events Calendar

We have created a google calendar for events we are running or attending plus other IP and business/enterprise related events. It is not exhaustive but will hopefully prove useful.The * events are the ones LIG and/orBusiness & Patents are involved in.

Also check out http://www.innovationcalendar.co.uk/
and http://www.ipo.gov.uk/whyuse/events/events-calendar.htm

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

FREE Olderpreneur Roadshow in Leeds Wednesday 14th October 2009

FREE Olderpreneur Roadshow in Leeds on Wednesday 14th October 2009.

Over 50?

Learn about starting your own business

FREE Olderpreneur RoadshowWednesday 14th October 2009

The Merrion Hotel, Wade House House, 52Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NH

1.0 0 pm to 4.1 4.15 pm OR 4.30 pm to 7.4 7.45 pm

• Hear from inspirational speakers

• Meet people who have gone ahead and started

• Find out where to get help locally

Book your free place NOW online
www.primebusinessclub.com/eventsOr call 0800 783 1904

PRIME - helping the over 50s set up in business. The PRIME Initiative is a registered charity (No. 261794-2)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Brands, Inventions and Ideas Event 8th Oct

This FREE event aims to offer help and advice to businesses who want to know more about trade marks, patents and designs and the value in registering them.

Identifying these assets and realising their value can make an impact on the medium to long term success of most businesses.Every business has some form of Intellectual Property that it uses to distinguish itself from its competitors.

Whether it is their trading name, a logo or a brand - all businesses need to be aware of the value and importance of their intellectual assets as well as the risks of not registering them, to prevent others using them at anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

This event will provide a seminar, networking opportunities, expert advice and support, along with industry professionals who will be on hand to offer guidance on individual questions during the day.Additional support will be available on the day from Business Link and the professional body for trade marks - ITMA and patents - CIPA. With the opportunity to attend a licensing workshop.

Free refreshments will be provided.
DateThursday 8 October 2009
Time of event 11:30 - 17:00
Venue: Elsie Whiteley Innovation CentreHopwood Lane, HalifaxHX1 5ER, Book your place for this event http://www.ipo.gov.uk/events-halifax1009.htm

Tuesday, 1 September 2009



Exhibition, Conference, & Award Ceremony Helsinki, Finland, 7-9 October 2009

Innovation for Enterprise, Science & Technology in Europe

Celebrating the European Year of Innovation & Creativity

Over 300 delegates are expected at the 2nd Bi-Annual International Expo, Conference and Awards Ceremony, the most informative occasion for promoting inventive and innovative women in Europe and the international world.
Join us for a programme rich in content and lots of opportunities to learn more about existing policies and practises which support and assist the many creative and scientific inventions and innovations by women in Europe which have a good potential in developing into thriving businesses. Areas of discussions will cover intellectual property rights, business intelligence, research and development, equity and commercialisation, access to funding and various other existing opportunities.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Inventique Seeks New Partners

As a regular reader of Inventique, the free monthly innovation magazine, I am seeking your ideas and advice as to possible ways forward for the publication.

From its beginnings in May 2003 as a club newsletter for inventors, editor Frank Landamore has built Inventique into a nationally-recognised and internationally-read magazine covering every aspect of innovation, entrepreneurship and related investment. However, its increasing success and enlarged editorial coverage brought with it ever-increasing demands on his time (as you may have read in issue 100).

Advertising and sponsorship are in short supply in these difficult economic times, and attempts to take the magazine forward from a philanthropic venture to a self-sustaining publication have not yet proved viable. However, never has there been a more important time to share best experience and help bring the best of innovation to market - indeed, never a greater need for Inventique.

I am therefore soliciting suggestions on the way forward from you. I would welcome realistic suggestions from Inventique's loyal readers on how to progress the magazine with sponsorship offers to provide the editor with a reasonable return on his time. Only the prospect of a secure financial future for Inventique (as either a stand-alone publication or in partnership with a compatible venture) will suffice to stop the closure of this crucial innovation news publication.

If you can see an opportunity to take the magazine or its content forward and maintain the current editor's involvement - so essential to its future success - please contact me as soon as possible.

Peter Hebard
Director, Inventique Limited
Email: bizdev@inventique.info, Tel: 01590 622 517, Mob: 07764 170 439

Inventique Limited Registered address: 42 South Way, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1LY. Registered in England & Wales Registered number: 6791057

Click on inventique.info for back issues of Inventique and details of forthcoming events such as the 'The Great Exhibition' and the 'British Invention Show' or on wrti.org.uk to view WRTI's website, which contains hundreds of links to other sites relevant to inventors, entrepreneurs and innovative companies.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Leeds Inventors Group 15-7-09 Tim Moor

“From Product Inception to Marketplace”
Tim Moor - Leeds Inventors Group 15-7-09

Tim gave the group a quick rundown of his own background through his time at Northumbria University’s School of Design, through his stint at the ministry of Defence’s DERA section (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) to his own businesses.

In 2006 he set up G & T Design specifically to develop new products. It’s a consultancy which helps inventors along the way from product inception to market. As Tim said, fitting an inventor into the right network so that they can make the right contacts is vital.

He went into detail on a number of different products of his own which he has worked on over the years. He described one device which is a gas analyser. It works by analysing the make-up of a patient’s breath when they blow into it. From this an early diagnosis of such conditions as diabetes and asthma can be made.

He is currently promoting a flat-pack baby bottle. It folds down to a sixth of the size of a conventional bottle, making it very easy to carry around. The bottle is not rigid and as the milk (or other liquids) are drunk from the bottle it collapses slowly. It can be disposed of after use so there is no need to re-sterilise it. The product has granted patents covering it in several countries.

It has taken six years to get the product to market, having to overcome several hurdles. Obviously as a baby product is has to adhere to certain standards and must have the CE mark. It was also rejected by several companies before a company called “Vital Baby” took it on. It is now on sale in Boots.

However, as Tim pointed out, while this is a great achievement it is still just another step along the way. There is a long way to go before the product breaks even. Royalties take a long time to build up and the debts which build up during development have to be paid off.

Tim then used the example of his new product “Bedrock Gin” to show how a product develops. He had already made an impressive entrance to the meeting holding a bottle of gin in each hand.

The idea originated from a conversation in a pub. They had thought of developing a new whisky but then from their market research realised that the gin market was growing the most so decided on that. They found a distiller – the oldest distillery in the country - and gained their interest. They then had to decide on what flavours they wanted the drink to have, what ingredients and processes would be involved and of course what could be protected. Patents have been filed but are still going through the early stages of the application process.

They had wanted to use the name “Osprey” for the drink but this was already owned by Whyte & Mackay. On contacting them Whyte & Mackay became very interested and helped them to get things going.

Bedrock Gin has got to market much faster than the baby bottle did, and won awards along the way. Part of this, as Tim explained was down to inexperience when he first started off with the bottle, and a significant part was also down to getting the right contacts.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

European Inventor Award 2010

European Patent Office is advertising its "European Inventor Award". Anyone can submit a proposal, deadline 12th September 2009.

Details here:

Entry forms and selection criteria can be found online at:

the four categories of the European Inventor Award:



-Non-European countries

-Lifetime achievement

Dates and deadline:

Closing date for entries 12th September 2009

Announcement of nominees February 2010

Award Ceremony in Madrid April 2010

Monday, 13 July 2009

meet the inventor Tim Moor at the Leeds Inventors Group:

The end of baby bottles as we know them? meet the inventor Tim Moor at the Leeds Inventors Group: http://twitdoc.com/c/rn4tk9

G & T design, press release

A great opportunity to mix with other inventors and get advice from people involved in the business of protecting and exploiting new ideas and products. An invited speaker attends each monthly meeting. Open to all. Free admission.

Next meeting: Sept 2009

Where: Leeds Central Library, third floor meeting room.

Speaker: TBA

Central Library
Calverley Street,

Ring (0113) 2478266 to book your place

For further information tel 0113 2478266 or email piu@leeds.gov.uk

Leeds Inventors Group-bits & pieces

A few things which may be of interest:-

Firstly, the European Patent Office is advertising its "European Inventor Award". Anyone can submit a proposal, deadline 12th September 2009. Details here:-


Secondly, a couple of newspaper articles on Tim Moor, who is the speaker at this week's meeting of the inventors group:-



Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Leeds Inventors Group 17 – 6 – 09 Mark Coulman

Leeds Inventors Group 17 – 6 – 09 Mark Coulman, Rapid Growth Advisor, Business Link. “Product Feasibility & How to Measure it: How to determine whether your product has a market”Mark explained that he’s part of Business Link’s Business Development team which looks at new products and services – working with individuals and established businesses. He himself has worked in industry in a number of areas and runs his own business.

Mark set out a specific process which he believes anyone should go through when trying to determine the feasibility of a new product:-

The first thing you have, of course, is the idea. Mark suggested that there are three types of idea: Someone else’s idea – ie something which has been done before; a Personal idea which solves a problem you’ve got and is based on what you know; a New idea – a genuinely new idea is very rare. Most ideas are improvements or variations on what has gone before. You must define what this is.

The next step and the most critical, is market research. The inventor needs to ask what problem is being solved? It may be a small problem but it could, nevertheless be a significant one. At the same time, if nobody but the inventor sees it as a problem then nobody will be interested in the solution. Who might use the product? If the answer is “everybody” (which is what an inventor will often say) then in Mark’s view, you are deluded!

You need to target a potential market. Why might anyone use your product? Different people might buy a product for different reasons – expectations might be different, and the price they’re willing to pay might be different.

What is the competition and why would your product be seen to be better? This is particularly important if you’re competing with a product which has a well-established market. What would customers be willing to pay for it? Is it a budget product, or top of the range? These are all questions which need to be answered. Some general information may be found in existing reports such as market research held by Business and Patent Information Services, some may be found through your own specific questionnaires. You may then need to go on to more detailed investigation but you need to know what your market is.

You then need to think about Intellectual Property. Is the product new? Can it be protected? Information on patentability and searching can be found on the Business & Patent Information Services website. Protecting your product takes time and money and isn’t always the most effective way of proceeding. It is particularly useful if you are intending to licence the product. However if the market is short-lived or small the best procedure might just be to get the product on to the market as quickly as possible. Once again, your market research may indicate whether IP is worthwhile.

It is important not to forget about technical issues. This is something which many inventors assume someone else will sort out for them. Knowing how the product works, the materials required and some understanding of the production process will help you to determine the cost and therefore the feasibility. If you don’t know the production cost you won’t be able to determine the retail cost.

This leads into operational issues. What is required in order to produce the product? Whether you intend to do it yourself or involve others thought will have to be put towards whether it will be produced here or abroad. If you are doing it yourself you will need to think about equipment, premises and staff.

Delivery issues will follow. To a large extent this will be determined by whether you’re going to be doing it yourself, whether you’re doing it through an agent or a partner. How will you get it to the market, and how will you promote it? Just as importantly, will you be able to deliver if sales grow significantly – can you satisfy demand? It may seem an obvious statement, but it is vital to be certain that the product does actually work – before it gets to the market.

In order to measure the feasibility of a product you need to be confident that you have made a commercial case for it. Having been through the process outlined above the financial information you need should fall into place. You need to be clear about what will make it commercially viable. If the cost of production and marketing means that you need to sell a million units in your first year you are taking a big risk.

Feasibility is all about turning an idea into a workable plan, or giving you warning that perhaps the idea is not as good as you had originally thought.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Firebox Inventor

Calling all creative geniuses, visionaries, mad scientists, tinkerers, ponderers and garden shed inventors:

Firebox have teamed up with Stuff, the World’s best-selling gadget magazine, to launch Firebox Inventor: a national search to find the next must-have product for 2010 and it might just be your idea that makes it onto our shelves! It could be a cool new toy, handy gadget, or something else entirely: if it’s original and it fits our quirky range, we want to hear about it.

You don’t need to have an expensive prototype, polished business plan, or to take part in a scary formal pitch. You can send your entry to us in any format you like and there isn’t a Dragon in sight.

We’ve assembled an expert panel of judges from across the technology, toy and product development industry to pick out the very best idea from the bunch. Just get your ideas in before midday on the 20th of November to be in with a chance.

The winning idea will be developed and sold on Firebox, and we'll share 50% of the profits with whoever comes up with it!

Click here for more information

For full Terms & Conditions please click here

Innovative Calderdale

What’s it about?

Protect your work and ideas @ Innovative Calderdale.
Everything you need to know, and more, about how to protect your work and ideas.

Due to popular demand, 'Innovative Calderdale' will host an entertaining journey through the facts needed to protect your Intellectual Property.
Renowned experts from the Intellectual Property Office will explain copyright, designs and trade marks.

No matter what business you are in, if you are making a living out of 'your' ideas, then discover your true worth at the event.

In addition, Yorkshire Forward will update you on the range of grants, loans and other support available - such as Business Link's £3k Innovation vouchers - and will also be happy to field individual enquiries at the event on support for potential innovation projects.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre, Halifax
17 June 2009
Register here
To book your free place, contact the team on 01422 399 400 or email reception@innovationhalifax.net

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Inventique - latest issue

June 2009 issue - Contents

Lead story: Successful inventor Joe Silver has added to his company's range of LifeLock personal security products.
The Association of Women with New Products and Inventions is launched at the British Library Business & IP Centre this month.
Guest columnist Matthew Simmons concludes his 'Ten steps to success in new ventures' series by leaving the best 'til last.
Female engineers at Ohio State University have designed flight control software for NASA's Scramjets.
Portsmouth University has devised an Artificial Intelligence programme that analyses whether aircraft are safe to fly (and also reduces fuel consumption).
A new type of air-fuelled battery, the STAIR cell, could give up to ten times the energy storage of lithium batteries.
Kingston University has entered its 102mph electric motorbike for the all-electric Isle of Man TTXGP race - the world's first zero-carbon, clean-emission Grand Prix.
In Design from Nature, Ithaca College research could lead to surgical adhesives developed from slugs.
In Your Shout, George Monbiot argues that a new Research Council requirement of those seeking academic research funding is fatally flawed.
The Seawork Innovation Awards will be presented this month.
This month's Centre of Excellence is WES (Women's Engineering Society).
Book of the Month is Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.
Website of the Month is FedBizOpps.gov, the US Government's one-stop virtual marketplace (which requires no login).

Click on inventique.info for back issues of Inventique, containing articles by guest columnists such as James Dyson and Mandy Haberman, as well as details of forthcoming events or on wrti.org.uk to view WRTI's website, which contains hundreds of links to other sites relevant to inventors, entrepreneurs and innovative companies.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Support For Inventors

Support for Inventors

There is no set route by which you can obtain assistance in either gaining finance or getting your product on to the market. Many of those who offer help have specific criteria which you must fulfil in order to gain their help. However you may find some of the following useful. This list is not exhaustive.

Business Link Yorkshire
Tel 08456 048 048
Information on funding available for inventors & innovators as well as business support

Sharing the Success
Tel 0113 2206350
Intensive support available for those thinking of starting a business or developing a new product

Yorkshire Association of Business Angels
Tel 01423 810149
Matches up investors and entrepreneurs with new business ideas

Viking Fund
Tel 01924 227237
Yorkshire-wide venture capital fund particularly aimed at new technology companies

Pd-M International Ltd
Tel 01423 503900
Prototyping and manufacturing assistance

A Better Mousetrap
Tel 01422 842401
Assessment service and advice for inventors

Ideas 2 Market
Tel 0870 803 1964
A DIY evaluation software package & Ideas Bank which aims to match investors and inventors/entrepreneurs

Innovation Showcase,
Leeds Metropolitan University
Tel 0113 383 9633
Access to facilities, prototyping & support

Design Enterprise Centre,
University of Hull
Tel 01482 466470
Product development, prototyping and funding information

Huddersfield University Business Incubation Programme
Tel 01484 483127
Help for start-up businesses including facilities and access to funding

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Leeds Inventors Group Jane Lambert 20-05-09

“Alternatives to Patents” Jane Lambert Leeds Inventors Group 20-05-09
Many people who come up with an idea for a new product tend to assume that they must get a patent, but Jane pointed out that while some people do need patents some businesses have actually been ruined by having too many. This was the issue which Jane looked at in her talk.

The reality is that 90% of patents which have been filed are never actually worked. Patents are worthwhile for a small minority of inventions (often belonging to the big companies) but it is important to realise that they are expensive. Getting a new product on to the market is often not easy and if you have a patent but no product you will be in debt. It is also important to realise that a patent can be revoked at any time.

So what alternatives might there be? One possibility is Trade Secrets. If you apply for a patent you will have to disclose details of the invention and have them published. Some products have based their success in not using patents and not disclosing details of them – the formulas for Coca Cola and Chartreuse are two famous examples.

Obviously any disclosure would destroy the secret and the product would have no protection. The use of confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements can be helpful. If such an agreement is not used the person receiving the information still has an obligation of confidentiality providing that they are aware of the fact that the information they receive is confidential. This obligation remains for as long as the information remains secret.

Typical subjects of trade secrets include the source code of computer programs, customer lists, recipes and formulas (providing they can’t be easily reverse-engineered) and inventions before a patent application has been made.

Jane pointed out that all staff in a company which holds trade secrets should be trained to be aware of, and respect, those secrets. Computer files should be password protected and documents kept secure. All disclosures should be logged, dated and written up. All confidential documents should be numbered. It is also important that any non-disclosure agreements relate to the specific situation in which they are to be used.

Unregistered Design Right is another means of protection. It protects the whole or part of the shape or configuration of a particular article, whether internal or external. It doesn’t include surface decoration and it doesn’t protect an article whose shape is determined by how it must fit together. This right is automatic and free.

It has been available since 1st August 1989. The creator must be a citizen of the European Economic Area and the product must have been first marketed in one of those countries. It lasts for 15 years from creation or 10 years from first marketing. In the last 5 years anyone, including an infringer, can apply for a “licence of right”.

Copyright is an automatic right which tends to be thought of in relation to artistic, literary, musical and dramatic works. However it can also cover logos, patterns and surface decoration of an article.

Copyright infringement has to be proved. In order to do so some copyright owners set traps – for example putting a certain number of false addresses in a phone directory. If the directory is copied the false addresses will indicate this.

Trade Marks Particularly if your product is not patentable you can sometimes add value or good-will with a trade mark. If customers associate your product (and in particular the quality of your product) with your mark it can become very valuable to you. A registered trade mark has to be applied for and fees paid. However an unregistered mark can give you a certain amount of protection if you build a significant reputation in your particular field.

Some countries also have “utility models” or “innovation patents”. These give a more limited protection than full patents. They have not been available in the UK since the 1930s though Jane feels that they would currently be an advantage to inventors and SMEs.

Jane summed up by pointing out that patents (and the other forms of intellectual property) are a means to an end – they are a deterrent. However constantly developing new or improved products is always likely to be the best way of maintaining your market. Using business tactics such as cutting costs, improving advertising etc can be just as important.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Inventique - latest issue

May 2009 issue - Contents

Lead story: Creative women have until 29 May to enter this year’s British Female Inventor and Innovator of the Year Awards.
This Awards issue of Inventique also brings news of Design Council, James Dyson and IET awards worth over £410,000.
In his series 'Ten steps to success in new ventures', guest columnist Matthew Simmons asks: "What, no Plan?"
The Lifesaver Bottle can produce clean drinking water from almost any source by filtering out 99.9(9)% of viruses.
William D. Richard and David Zar have invented an ultrasound imaging device that fits the palm of a hand, thanks to a $100,000 Microsoft grant.
The British Library Business & IP Centre has launched free e-courses on intellectual property.
British companies have been challenged to develop new technologies in a new £100m development programme – with contracts on offer.
In Design from Nature, researchers in Germany have created a material that can absorb 10 times its normal tensile energy – from a spider's web.
In Your Shout, Warwick Group founder Lord Bhattacharayya says: "Support innovation – or be left behind."
The Midlands Manufacturing Show and the International Subcontract Show take place in Birmingham and Coventry.
This month's Centre of Excellence is IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
Book of the Month is Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel by Michio Kaku.
Website of the Month is unico.org.uk, the UK’s leading knowledge transfer membership association.

Visit http://www.wrti.org.uk/ to view WRTI's website, which contains hundreds of links to other sites relevant to inventors, entrepreneurs and innovative companies, plus back issues of Inventique, containing articles by guest columnists such as James Dyson and Mandy Haberman, as well as details of forthcoming events.


Friday, 17 April 2009

Patent Searching Using the Espacenet database

Basic guidance for anyone wanting to search the largest free database of patent information on the internet:

Patent Searching

It is important to understand that no searching of any kind can ever be deemed completely foolproof – and lack of understanding of search techniques and how patent documents work often leads to incomplete results. Databases such as Espacenet are not intended as comprehensive search tools and should be regarded as a starting point only. However, as this database is free time spent checking through it could save a lot of money at a later stage, and should not be rushed.


Searching a Subject Area

Choose Advanced Search from the list on the left. When the page opens ensure that the database at 1 is set to “Worldwide” (existing patents filed in any country can be a threat to you even if you’re just intending to apply for a British patent).

Go to the second box down – Keywords in title or abstract. The keywords are those words which you feel best describe what is new, or different about your invention. It is important to search both the title and abstract as patent titles on their own are often vague.

Remember to think of synonyms – you might decide to use the word “car”, but if an existing patent has described the invention as relating to a “vehicle” your search will miss it. Therefore you must try to think of all the alternatives.

Use truncation (wildcards) where you can. Using the word “vehicle” in your search will find patents which use that exact word only. However, using the truncation symbol (*) can widen your search – “vehic*” will find patents which use the words vehicle, vehicles, vehicular and any other variations.

For more detailed guidance on-line, use the Espacenet Assistant.

Alternatively, contact staff at Business & Patent Information Services and we will be happy to help. As well as assistance with Espacenet, we can provide information on the patenting process and also offer more comprehensive searches using commercial databases.

Business and Patent Information Services
2nd Floor
Central Library
Calverley Street

Tel: 0113 2478266
Fax: 0113 2478268
Email: piu@leeds.gov.uk
Web: http://www.businessandpatents.org/

Getting your invention on to the market - information to get you started

You’ve come up with an idea for a new product and you’re convinced it’s got potential. What do you do?

Have you considered whether you can protect it? Is it worth protecting? We can provide you with information on patents, trade marks, registered designs and copyright which may help you decide.

Are you intending to produce the product yourself or are you hoping to sell or licence the product to someone else to produce? Many people choose this latter option, thinking it is the easiest. However, it is a mistake to think that your product will “sell itself”, no matter how good it may be. The chances of you attracting the interest of a producer / distributor is likely to be much greater if you can show that you have done some background research and can back your claims up with facts. Remember that the company will judge you as much as your invention. You need to consider the following key areas:

The ability to demonstrate how the product will benefit the customer and the producer / distributor
What makes your product unique
Is there a gap in the market?

Never rely on opinions of family or friends – they will tell you what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear.

Research your market. It is unlikely that anyone will take you seriously if you are not familiar with what is out there now. Never assume that there is bound to be a market for your product – you need to show that there is a demand.

How we can help you – We have access to one of the largest public library collections of market research reports which can provide you with the information you need to determine where your market lies, how strong it is, buying habits of potential customers and future market prospects.

Back up your findings with statistics. Apart from those gathered from market reports there are a number of sources of statistics which could help to strengthen your case. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/ covers the economy, population and society and can be broken down into local areas. Leeds economic and social statistics can be found at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/ and http://statistics.leeds.gov.uk/

Find out as much as you can about the companies you’re dealing with - whether it’s a competitor or someone you’re hoping to sell / licence your invention to. What products are they developing now?

Don’t always go for the company which is the market leader. They are often least likely to be willing to deal with inventors. Small companies can often exploit niche markets where larger companies can not.

How we can help you – We can provide a tailor made mailing list focusing upon companies in key industries, target companies of a particular size and in key geographical locations. We can also help you research potential partners credit ratings, access any county court judgements and provide full financial reports.

Check to see if the company already has any existing patents. See our information on patent searching.

Maintain an awareness of current issues and events in your area of interest. Checking newspapers and the internet can keep you up to date with issues which could affect the chances of completing a successful agreement with a company.

How we can help you – we can access databases which contain thousands of articles from newspapers and specialist trade journals. A comprehensive list of web sites listing companies by industries is available at www.leeds.gov.uk/weblinks

Check out any publications or trade associations specifically related to the market you hope to sell your product in. They may reveal information on companies and issues which are not highlighted elsewhere.

How we can help you - A large number of business journals and directories are held within the department often concentrating on a particular field eg “Food Trade Directory” and “Furniture & Furnishing Directory”. Trade associations can be found at http://www.taforum.org/

Look at funding opportunities. Grants may be available through various organisations.

There is never a guarantee of success but the more information you gather, the better chance you’re likely to have of convincing someone that your product is worthwhile.

For more information see the “Getting your product on to the market” section of our web-site, or contact us:
2nd Floor, Central Library
Calverley Street
Leeds LS1 3AB
t. 0113 2478266
f. 0113 2478268
Email piu@leeds.gov.uk


Searching – An Important First Step

If you are considering applying for a Patent or a Trade mark it is essential that you do some initial searching. This can save you a lot of time and money further along the line!
Business and Patent Information Services provides access and advice on free search tools. We also carry out low cost Patent and Trade mark searches on your behalf.If you wish to complete your own search you may find the following websites a useful starting point:

Our own website-http://www.businessandpatents.org

The largest patent database on the web-http://ep.espacenet.com/

The British Library guide to Intellectual Property -http://www.bl.uk/bipc/resources.html

The US Patent Office website-http://www.uspto.gov./

The UK Intellectual Property Office Trade mark database- http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tm/t-find/t-find-text/

If you don’t find anything after searching these website please do not assume that there is nothing there. Even if you are experienced in using the internet it is often difficult to construct an effective search if you are unfamiliar with patents. It is advisable to seek guidance from a Patent Library, The UK Intellectual Property Office or a Patent Agent.

2nd Floor, Central Library
Calverley Street
t. 0113 2478266
f. 0113 2478268
Email piu@leeds.gov.uk

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Leeds Inventors Group - Peter Draggett - 14/4/09

"Funding, exploiting and protecting your idea" - Peter Draggett, Dragon IP Strategics Ltd, 14th April 2009

Over 30 years in the IP profession, and 25 years as an in-house intellectual property attorney (EPA, CPA) in a wide range of industry sectors in ICI and Smith & Nephew in in-house commercial teams, providing and implementing commercial IP strategy at all levels up to CEO in line with corporate business strategy.
This included product/business development and launch, research collaborations, in- and out- licensing, subcontracting, partnering, etc.
In the last 3 years he has become a gamekeeper turned poacher, providing the same commercial services to spin-outs, start-ups, SME’s and investors, working as an integral part of the client’s business team.
He set up on his own in 2008 to provide the same ‘business development IP’ consultancy services through Dragon IP Strategics Ltd consultancy.

We help people fund, exploit and protect their ideas (IP)
And help to maximise the commercial return on our client’s IP

Case Study:
-Motorcycle Helmets
-Good for direct impacts
-Poor for glancing impacts

The Invention
Film of lubricant under sheet of rubber-like (‘elastomeric’) plastic over the helmet attached around the edges
On glancing impact, road pushes sheet to slide over the helmet – by up to 90o
Force of impact absorbed, spinning slowed/ minimised – 40% increase in safety

Client had developed the invention himself for 10 years, raised equity funding for commercial exploitation ,two families of solid patents/applications in major global markets – Europe, Japan and US but only 10 years life left, a raft of engineering drawings and development know-how
no trade marks.

The idea (IP) may be a person or company’s biggest asset, so
When Dragon talks about IP and Legal, it really means Business

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My Bright Idea! - Leeds Inventors Group Article

Leeds Inventors Group article in the Yorkshire Evening Post 15/4/09 page 16 - featuring some of our very own inventors........http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/features/My-bright-idea.5172049.jp

Leeds has its very own inventors' circle which meets regularly to discuss ways of making the world that little bit better....

Leeds Inventors Club was founded by Jane Elizabeth Lambert, a barrister of 30 years, who specialises in patent law.She set up the club four years ago because she was concerned about naive inventors falling foul of opportunistic agents....

A good place for any would-be inventor to start is the Leeds club, which meets monthly at Leeds Library.Stef Stephenson and Ged Doonan, work in the Business and Patent Information Service at Leeds Central Library and help run the club.........

Retired Leeds plumber Bill Hyland, 66, came up with the idea for a de-burring tool – a time saving gadget which quickly and safely rounds-off the edges of plastic pipes, making them easier to push into fittings.

Full article - My Bright Idea - YEP:

Leed Inventors Group meets once a month , next meeting: http://leedsinventorsgroup.blogspot.com/2008/07/leeds-inventors-group.html

Leeds Inventors Group:

Contact Business & Patent Information Services Tel: 0113 2478266 email: piu@leeds.gov.uk
http://bapisleeds.blogspot.com/ our website http://www.businessandpatents.org/

Search for patents at: http://ep.espacenet.com/

Follow us on twitter http://twitter.com/baplig

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Leeds Inventors Group - Sara Ludlam 18/3/09

“Making money from your IP” Sara Ludlam of Ludlams IP Solicitors
Leeds Inventors Group 18th March 2009

Sara began by giving a brief overview of her career, which started when she trained as an IP solicitor in London. She became an IP litigator, working in-house with several large companies. During this time she was involved in licensing such well-known trade marks as Lacoste®, Kickers® and Kangol®. She now runs her own company in Leeds.

Licensing is one of the most common ways of making money from your Intellectual Property – allowing others to produce / sell the product in return for licence fees. Sara pointed out that the first question for anyone in business should be – What Intellectual Property have you got? Until you know what you’ve got, you don’t know what you can sell. The most obvious things initially are the company name and the product name. If you can’t protect these things they can be much more difficult to sell. She passed around a packaged air freshener and asked the audience to think about what types of intellectual property might be relevant to that particular product. Even something as ordinary as this had several types of protection on it.

As well as patents, trade marks, designs and copyright she discussed trade secrets which, like the other types of intellectual property, can be licensed. The formula for Coca Cola is one of the most famous trade secrets. Confidentiality agreements can be useful in all of these situations but it is important to disclose information to as few people as possible.

Patents and registered designs in particular have a limited life span, but other types of Intellectual Property such as trade marks and copyright can be used to increase the value of a product. Gore-Tex® fabric was invented 30 years ago and the patents expired some time ago. However the company insisted that any licensees used the Gore-Tex® trade mark. In doing so goodwill was being built up around the Gore-Tex® brand. It became very familiar and the trade mark built up its value. Trade marks can last indefinitely so it can be a powerful tool to help build your reputation. It is therefore important not to focus on just one aspect of intellectual property.

When licensing your intellectual property it is important to think about the details of the licence. The IP owner can determine such things as the term of the licence, the territories (countries) of use, the field of use (such as the internet) and whether or not the licence is exclusive. Sometimes the IP owner will stipulate a certain number of sales before a licence is extended or renewed. There should always be an option to get out of an agreement if such stipulations are not met, and quality control should be built in can you see samples regularly? Can you inspect the licensee’s factory? Agreement should be reached on who should take action if the IP is infringed – the owner or the licensee? Who, if anyone, is to pay infringement insurance?

It’s always a good idea to keep records of when you were developing your ideas. Potentially it could act as evidence should any disagreements end in court.

The more thought that can be put into how you intend to get the product to market and how you might want to licence it the better.

http://www.ludlams.co.uk/ tel: 0113 2307476

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Copyright in Photography - a brief guide to UK copyright in photography

What is copyright?

Copyright is an automatic legal right which protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. This includes among other things, sound recordings, broadcasts, photography, film and computer programs. It does not protect inventions or names you give to your product or service. It also does not protect an idea, but rather the tangible expression of the idea in some physical form - a photograph is one example of that expression in physical form.........................

Also available Copyright in Music. http://bapisleeds.blogspot.com/2008/09/copyright-in-music.html

FREE booklet available from Business & Patent Information Services - Email: piu@leeds.gov.uk tel: 0113 2478266

Friday, 6 March 2009

New IP Healthcheck Launched

What is it?
The IP Healthcheck online diagnostic tool helps artists, inventors, sole traders and small and medium sized businesses identify, protect and commercially exploit their Intellectual Property (IP). It’s free to use and will help you find out;
• If you have IP to protect;
• Whether you own it and, if you don’t, who does;
• How to protect it, and whether you should;
• How you can exploit it commercially.
What you get
Just answer a series of simple questions on the IP topic of your choice and we will create a tailored confidential report for you, based on what you have told us. The report will include;
• A list of recommended action points, to help you protect and exploit your IP rights;
• An explanation of why we have made each recommendation;
• Guidance on how to put each recommendation into practice;
• Links to useful information, websites and other resources.
When and where will it be available?
The tool is on the website at www.ipo.gov.uk/iphealthcheck

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Enterprise shows

Business & Patents Information Services wil be attending the enterprise shows:

The Enterprise Show is your chance to get professional advice on both starting and developing your own business - all under ONE roof and in ONE day! It's FREE to get in, and is the ideal place to make contacts, acquire new knowledge and gain the confidence and abilities that will help you to succeed.

YORK SHOW Venue: Racecourse, York Dates: Saturday 14th March - Sunday 15th March 2009 Time: Sat: 10am-5pm / Sun: 10am-4pm
LEEDS SHOW Venue: Millennium Square - Leeds Dates: Saturday 28th March - Sunday 29th March 2009 Time: Sat 10am-5pm / Sun 10am-4pm
HULL SHOW Venue: City Hall - Hull Dates: Saturday 18th April - Sunday 19th April 2009 Time: Sat 10am-5pm / Sun 10am-4pm
SHEFFIELD SHOW Venue: Meadowhall Shopping Centre - Sheffield Dates: Saturday 2nd May - Sunday 3rd May 2009 Time: Sat 10am-5pm / Sun 10am-4pm

http://www.theenterpriseshows.com/ Tel: 0800 0322626

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Leeds Inventors Group 18/2/09 - Lydia Machell

Leeds Inventors Group 18/02/09 – Lydia Machell

Light Bulb Moments: Inspiration, Innovation and Invention – Lydia Machell, Director of Prima Vista Braille Music Services Limited, 18th February 2009

“Prima Vista” literally means “first sight”. It’s also a musical term for the skill of performing music straight off the printed page without having seen it before. Lydia established Prima Vista Braille Music Services Limited in Leeds in 2008 to bring “first sight” to blind music-makers around the world. Lydia spent the previous seven years developing a system, including software and hardware designs, that will make the mass production of braille sheet music possible at last. Patents are pending for the system in Europe and in the United States and Prima Vista’s e-commerce website, selling downloadable braille scores, will launch later this year at http://www.primavistamusic.com/.

Lydia was here to tell us about the creation of the Prima Vista system but began by taking a look at the history of a number of famous inventions: the brains behind them, the flukes along the way and the nature of the inventor’s mind which, she said, “could be a pretty surreal place. They have light bulb moments because they make connections other people fail to see. But as well as having a knack for lateral thinking, they have to have a single-mindedness that will allow them to pursue a problem, often for years.”

The story behind Lydia’s own light bulb moment started with the publication of a small collection of ringtone formulas called “Ringtone Mania” in 2001, and, after what we now saw as the twists and turns of fate required in any invention story, arrived at the development of a website selling braille music created using the Prima Vista system.

Lydia worked in music publishing for about 15 years and in that time the industry was revolutionised. The development of score-writing software such as Finale and Sibelius has made it easier to prepare scores for printing, much as word-processors were faster and more flexible than typewriters for the production of text documents. At first, the digital scores created by these applications were seen as just a step in the print-production process, a replacement for camera-ready artwork and a by-product with no intrinsic value. But music publishers now recognise the true worth of these digital files, particularly in their flexibility. A digital file can be listened to. A file of one score can form the basis of a new publication for a different instrument, or in a different key, or in a new arrangement. And a digital file can be downloaded, opening up an entirely new delivery route to market.

But the revolution in music publishing has for the most part bypassed blind musicians. With printed music now more easily available than ever before, are blind music-makers benefitting? The answer, sadly, is “no”. Braille music is still mainly created by individual transcribers who manually copy a printed score into braille using a braille typewriter. This is a 6-keyed device that uses different key combinations to produce all the variations of the 6-dot braille cell. Transcriptions are usually done on an individual order basis, often with no guaranteed turnaround time. There are two commercially-available braille music applications on the market but neither works directly with publishers’ digital files and the culture is still one of “transcription at destination”.

Lydia spent a lot of time since her light bulb moment researching braille music, attending conferences, speaking to blind musicians and learning from braille music specialists. The overall picture is one of frustration. She realised that by using the digital score as her starting point, mass production of braille music could be possible at last. With “transcription at source” becoming the norm, one day a new braille score will appear on the market every time a new print score is published.
Making her designs work is one thing, but this wasn’t going to be much use unless she could also put together a commercial model that was going to work. A great deal of her energy in the past 12 months has gone into negotiating contracts with publishers. With the music industry as a whole beset by copyright infringement, Lydia needed to show that she understood and respected publishers’ rights.
She hopes to provide blind musicians with the same range of choice available to sighted musicians. This will be done through Prima Vista’s e-commerce website, to be launched later this year. Designed to be fully accessible to blind users with screen-readers, the site is the first of its kind and will enable blind users to browse by ear for the music they want. With a varied range of scores for all musical tastes, the site will offer customers the option to buy braille downloads or to order an embossed score for postal delivery.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People endorses Prima Vista as one of only 3 recognised braille music transcription services in the UK. Central to Prima Vista’s approach has been the development of a licensing agreement which Lydia hopes will set the standard for this new market. Publishers are granting Prima Vista access to their copyright files in return for a royalty payment on sales. Printed publications available in braille are identified by the Prima Vista “Sightmark” logo. Not only does this show that a braille edition is available, but it shows the publisher’s commitment to accessibility and is likely to be a powerful incentive for other publishers to join the scheme.
Making printed music accessible to blind musicians is only half the story. What about blind musicians who want to compose in braille and share their work with sighted musicians? As well as its print-to-braille software, the Prima Vista Braille Music System has developed an application that addresses the needs of blind composers with braille-to-print software, ensuring that accessibility is a two-way street. Both software components come together to drive the Braille Music Workstation. This is a prototype electronic keyoard incorporating a braille display, and completes the Prima Vista braille music system. Prima Vista has patents pending for the system in both the US and in Europe.


Prima Vista Braille Music Services Limited
Elizabeth House
Queen Street
Leeds LS1 2TW
tel. +44 (0) 113 2626483

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Leeds Inventors Group 14/1/09 - Richard Hall

Richard Hall of Pd-m International at Leeds Inventors Group

Richard began by talking about his background from his engineering apprenticeship at Rolls Royce, through his degree in product design and various design posts until he became Operations Manager at POS Global in 2003. He set up Pd-m in 2005.

Pd-m is all about taking new products from a basic idea through prototyping and on to the market. Richard talked through some of the successful products which the company has dealt with:

Businessman James Dunne won an award at the Grand Designs Awards for his “Savasocket” - an energy-saving standby socket, praised for its economy and energy and emission saving features. Pd-m were involved in the product development and manufacturing of the Savasocket.

Rowena Mead got quite a lot of press and TV coverage for her invention – the flexible “Bug Brush” toothbrush - and of course has previously spoken to the inventors group about her experiences. She used Pd-m for her prototyping before taking her product round to manufacturers.

Mel Blythe came up with the idea of the “Octopod” - a water saving device which won Eon’s Energy Lab competition. Once again Pd-m was involved in the development of the product.

Richard pointed out that the first step for anyone with a good idea for a product must take is “due diligence”. It’s vital to determine whether anything similar to the proposed product is already there – and a thorough patent search such as that offered by Business & Patent Information Services is necessary before taking things any further. From there an inventor can approach design consultants or perhaps Business Link. He also referred to the importance of confidentiality agreements or non-disclosure agreements.

Pd-m will look at the viability of the product before anything else – will it cost more to make than you are likely to get back in sales? He used the Sinclair C5 as an example of something which was a good product but not commercially viable.

Doing some market research is vital – whether the inventor does their own or gets someone else to do it for them. Pd-m will then put together a design brief. Often there are things which an inventor hasn’t thought of or materials which he or she is not aware of. As Richard said the product may work in your shed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the shop.

A lot of products need to be compliance–tested to ensure they comply with all the relevant regulations (such as the CE mark). Failure to do so can result in the product having to be recalled and it is a very important step for a new product. Pd-m uses compliance companies to carry out testing on any products they deal with and this has to be taken into consideration when working out costs. It is not cheap.

Richard went on to explain how important it is to know and be familiar with a manufacturer and how they work. A new product will evolve and it’s not just a case of handing it over to a manufacturer and expecting it to come out the other end exactly as it was originally envisaged. It’s important to have regular detailed checks and be aware of any difficulties. The inventor should be involved in the manufacturing process throughout. Having a detailed agreement with a manufacturer from the outset can reduce the risk of disagreements and he suggested insisting on samples being produced before any large batch is manufactured. It is also important to make very clear who owns the intellectual property in the product. Disputes and even court cases have resulted from agreements not being explicit enough in this regard.

Manufacturing overseas is common now but it is important in these situations to take transport costs into consideration – and such things as import taxes. Adding up costs for the product – right from protecting it with a patent or registered design etc, through prototyping, compliance, and the various other costs the total can be tens of thousands of pounds.

Richard summed up by saying that anyone who wants to keep everything to themselves will probably struggle. It’s important to have a good team – each a specialist in their own area, whether it be prototyping, manufacturing, marketing or any other area. You can have a mediocre product which can succeed with a good team, and you can have a very good product which doesn’t succeed because of a poor team.
Summary of Tips
1. IP: Ensure its not already out there or already protected
2. Design: Make sure the product has a commercial advantage
3. Compliance: CE + CE does not equal CE
4. Manufacture: Make sure you have agreements in place.
5. Quality: Avoid ambiguity at all costs.
6. Final tip: Get a good team around you!

Contact details:
•Richard Hall
•Pd-m International Limited
•Tel: 01423 503 900