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

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/cda.pdf

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:

http://ep.espacenet.com/advancedSearch

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:

Patents:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/p-essentialreading.pdf


http://www.epo.org/topics/innovation-and-economy/handbook.html


Trademarks:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/t-essentialreading.pdf

Registered Designs:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/d-howtoapply.pdf

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:

http://leedsinventorsgroup.blogspot.com/

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:
www.ukrc4setwomen.org

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.