Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Protecting your ideas & inventions 15th Sept Leeds Central Library

Leeds libraries hosted this event led by the UK Intellectual Property Office – an opportunity for anyone interested in protecting their ideas and inventions to listen to a series of speakers and then take part in one-to-one discussions with local attorneys.

Addressing around 50 delegates Dave Hopkins of the UKIPO gave an overview of intellectual property explaining why patents, trade marks, designs and copyright are important to business – both in terms of their value and also in avoiding infringement of the rights of others.

A recent survey by the UKIPO show that there has been an 11% increase in the number of patents granted in the Yorkshire region. 67% of Yorkshire businesses believe that innovation and product development is vital to their businesses while 38% feel that innovation is fundamental to business growth. Developing an awareness of intellectual property is therefore very important.

John-Paul Rooney of Appleyard Lees, patent and trade mark attorneys then explained the role of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and why it can be important to talk to a patent attorney at an early stage of developing a new product or service.

Ged Doonan of Business & Patent Information Services (part of the Europe-wide PatLib network), based in Leeds Central Library gave a brief history of intellectual property in Leeds followed by an overview of current services and resources. Business & Patents have many years experience of dealing with intellectual property enquiries and carrying out patent and trade mark searches. Many business resources such as company databases, factsheets, British Standards, market research reports and journals are also available. The department has produced some of its own booklets on subject such as copyright for photographers and musicians and also starting a business. All of this is backed up by a number of websites and blogs providing a wealth of further information – and readily available to those wishing to find out more about how to protect their ideas.
IP barrister Jane Lambert followed this up with an explanation of intellectual property enforcement. Infringement of IP rights is not a criminal act unless carried out on a commercial scale and therefore it is up to the owner of that IP to take action against such infringers. Jane detailed what is very often a complex and expensive challenge to the wronged party.

Alison Orr of Enterprise Europe Yorkshire discussed the importance of seeing intellectual property as an asset which can be bought, sold and transferred. The Enterprise Europe network, which spans more than 40 countries, aims to encourage innovation, help technology transfer or finding a business partner and promote competitiveness.

Inventor Claire Mitchell then described her “Eureka moment” when she first realised that her idea of a pre-sterilised teat which could be attached to a carton of formula baby milk could be developed into a business - Chillipeeps. She gave an entertaining description of her first encounter with a patent attorney, her dealings with large companies and the many awards which she and her product have won. She emphasised the determination needed to succeed and the importance of making the most of any advice offered – such as that available during this event.

The event was rounded off with the one-to-one discussions. Attendees could book a short consultation with one of six local patent attorneys in confidence, in which they could gain advice relating to their specific situation.    

The response from the attendees was very positive – several expressing their appreciation of the value of events such as these in developing awareness and pointing them in the right direction.