Saturday, 29 August 2015

Venturefest Manchester

There has been a Venturefest in York since 2005 and one in Oxford for even longer. Over the years there have been Venturefest events in Bristol, the East and West Midlands and other parts of the country. Last year there was the first in Manchester. On the 22 Sept 2015 the second Venturefest Manchester will take place at Lancashire County Cricket Club at Old Trafford.

As its name suggests Venturefest is a festival of enterprise. It brings together business, the professions, education and local government in an all day conference and exhibition. The event is organized by the Business Growth Hub and sponsored by InnovateUK and the Knowledge Transfer Network.

The event will begin with business breakfasts at 08:30 on life sciences, investment and graphene, a welcome from Mark Edwardson, the keynote speech from Sir Howard Bernstein and then parallel events in different rooms (see the Agenda).  One of those events will be the Innovation Showcase competition the winner of which will receive
"a unique package of business support worth up to £30,000 and including a year’s free space at the Sci-Tech Daresbury, support around accountancy, patents and legal issues and a range of marketing and PR services."
Exhibitors include Lancaster, Manchester and Salford universities, the Intellectual Property Office, UK Trade and Investment, local business angels, science parks and patent agents.

You can register for the event through the Business Growth Hub website. I shall be there and I shall look forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

An Introduction to Intellectual Property for Commercial Lawyers

Jane Lambert

These are the slides of a presentation that I gave to Manchester Trainee Solicitors Group at the Manchester Study Centre of BPP University on 29 April 2015. As I had been told that all the members of the audience would be law graduates but few (if any) would have any training or experience of intellectual property law I discussed the following topics:
  • Intellectual property and intellectual assets
  • International legal framework for IP
  • Institutions
  • Types of IP
  • Choosing the right kind of IP
  • Practical tips
  • Enforcement
  • Contracts relating to IP.
I circulated a handout to delegates which can be downloaded here.

Anyone who wishes to discuss this presentation or my article should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or use my contact form.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Jean Wars - Lessons from G-Star Raw v Rhodi

Photo Wikipedia

In G-Star Raw CV v Rhodi Ltd and Others [2015] EWHC 216 (Ch) (6 Feb 2015) a group of companies in Preston and two of their directors were sued by one of Europe's leading denim fashion brands and designers of contemporary urban garments for unregistered design right infringement. Design right is an almost uniquely British intellectual property right that protects investment in product designs. It applies to the "shape or configuration (whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article".  I have written an introduction to design right law in Unregistered Design Rights: Overview 18 Sept 2008 IP Yorkshire.

In this case the defendants were accused of importing into the UK and selling jeans that had been manufactured abroad that reproduced the claimant's "Arc Pant" designs knowing or having reason to believe that they were infringing articles. The case came on before Mr Richard Spearman QC sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court who decided against the first, second, fourth and fifth corporate defendants but not the company directors. I have written a short note on this case at Unregistered Design Rights: G-Star Raw v Rhodi 28 Feb 2015 NIPC Law.

Design right is one of a range of intellectual property rights of which the garment trade should be aware. Other rights include 
  • copyright which protects the artwork for fabric designs from copying for the life of the designer plus 70 years, 
  • registered designs and registered Community designs which confer monopolies of the appearance of new designs having individual character for up to 25 years, 
  • unregistered Community designs which confer 3 years protection from copying on designs that could be registered as registered or registered Community designs, 
  • registered trade marks and the law of passing off which protect brand names and logos.
It is particularly important for such businesses to know about registered and registered Community designs because it has been an offence since the 1 Oct 2014 to make a product exactly to a registered or registered Community design or with features that differ only in immaterial details from that design knowing or having reason to believe that the design is registered under s.35ZA of the Registered Designs Act 1949. This new offence is one of many changes to design law that were introduced by the Intellectual Property Act 1949 (see Reflections on the Intellectual Property Act 2014 7 June 2014 4-5 IP.

Just to the North of Manchester's Piccadilly station lies one of the largest concentrations of garment manufacturers, importers and distributors in the UK. The Liverpool law firm QualitySolicitors Jackson Canter has recently opened an office at 111 Piccadilly with a view to serving that industry. On 20 April 2015 between 16:00 and 18:00 QualitySolicitors Jackson Canter will hold a workshop at that office entitled Protecting your Brands and Designs: IP Advice for the Fashion Trade at which Alex Rozycki and I have been invited to speak.  

Alex is an expert on IP crime and he has also spoken on the subject to the Merseyside meeting of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys. Our chambers are recognized for their expertise in IP law relating to fashion and luxury goods which is why Alex and I were invited to speak to IALCI (The international association of lawyers for the creative industries) at the St Pancras Pullman in London on 10 Feb 2015 and at seminars in London and Paris on the "Paradox of Fashion" organized by the Franco-British Lawyers Association. You can download my slides to the IALCI seminar from IALCI Seminar: Enforcing IPR in England and Wales 13 Feb 2015 4-5 IP. The other speaker at the event will be Mr Michael Sandys, Director and Head of Commercial at QualitySolicitors Jackson Canter.

This workshop will cover just about everything on IP that businesses in the garment trade need to know including in particular the changes to the law brought about by the IP Act which I discussed in detail in How the Intellectual Property Act 2014 changes British Registered Design Law  19 June 2014 and How the Intellectual Property Act 2014 will change British Unregistered Design Right Law 11 June 2014. This is a workshop that you really can't afford to miss. Admission is by invitation only and demand is likely to be brisk. If you want an invitation or indeed if you want to discuss any aspect of fashion law including Mr Spearman's judgment in G-Star Raw call me on 020 7404 5252 during regular office hours or fill in my contact form.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Ice Cream Van Case shows the Value of Design Registration

Royal Courts of Justice, London
Photo Wikipedia

The decision  of Mr Justice Arnold in  Whitby Specialist Vehicles Ltd v Yorkshire Specialist Vehicles Ltd and others [2014] EWHC 4242 (Pat) (17 Dec 2014) shows the value of design registration. It costs relatively little and is very quick because there is no substantive examination unlike patents and trade mark registration. Unlike claims for unregistered design right infringement there is no need for the registered proprietor to prove copying or knowledge of the infringement on the part of the defendant. However, if copying and knowledge of the registration can be proved the infringer may now be prosecuted under s.35ZA of the Registered Designs Act 1949.

In the case that I just mentioned above a Crewe specialist vehicle converter successfully sued a company in Leeds and the individuals behind it for registered design, unregistered design right and trade mark infringement. I have set out the details in Designs in Ice Cream Vans: Whitby Specialist Vehicles Ltd v Yorkshire Specialist Vehicles Ltd and Others 27 Dec 2014 NIPC Law.

The claimant converts commercial vehicles into ice cream vans. One of its models, the Whitby Mondial, wis based on the Mercedes Sprinter. The company registered the design of the Mondial under the Registered Designs Act 1949. Because all ice cream vans share a lot of common features and designers are constrained by technical, commercial, regulatory, cost and practical restraints the registration afforded a relatively narrow scope of protection but it was enough for the purposes of this litigation.

The judge found that the defendants had purchased one of the claimant's converted vans, made moulds from its parts and used those moulds to make a competing product called the Millennium. The copying was so blatant that the defendants even reproduced the claimant's trade mark.

Design registration is relatively straightforward and many businesses do it for themselves. You can find a lot of information on the Register a Design page of the Intellectual Property Office website. It is usually a good idea to instruct a patent or trade mark attorney to assist you. If you do not already have a patent or trade mark attorney you can search the databases of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys or Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys through their websites. Alternatively, you can call my clerk Steve or George on 0161 850 0080 and he can give you the names of several with whom I or my colleagues have worked successfully in the past. Probably nobody is in a better position to judge whether an attorney knows his or her stuff than counsel for the reasons I explained in IP Services from Barristers 6 April 2013 4 to 5 IP.

If you want to discuss this case or design registration in general give me a call on 0161 850 0800 during office hours or use my contact form.

I wish all my readers a happy New Year.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Let's Take this Opportunity with Both Hands

Granada TV Studios, the Site for the Factory Arts Centre
Photo Wikipedia

There has been a lot of talk about "the Northern Powerhouse" lately.  In my article on the Northern Futures Summit in my IP Yorkshire blog I compiled a bibliography of articles that I and others have written about it. Now there is a commitment from HM Government to make it happen. On page 48 of his Autumn Statement, George Osborne, a local MP as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that HMG will invest over £7 billion in transport, science and technology and the arts and leisure to create a "Northern Powerhouse".

The transport investment will include upgrading the trans-Pennine rail system which may include a high speed railway ("HS3") and improvements to the Liverpool docks and across the Pennines. Bidders for the new rail franchisees will be required to increase capacity by 20% with new rolling stock and to improve station facilities.There will be similar improvements to road and rail connections in Yorkshire and the North East.

Investments in science and technology will include a centre for materials science based at Manchester University with satellites in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield, a Cognitive Computing Research Centre in Daresbury, a new National College for Onshore Oil and Gas in Blackpool and an Energy Security and Innovation Observing System at Thornton. The Chancellor gave details of these developments when he visited the Museum of Science and Technology on 8 Dec 2014 (see the press release "Chancellor puts science at heart of Northern Powerhouse" 8 Dec 2014).

Investments in the arts will include a Great Exhibition in the North to celebrate art, culture and design in the region, a massive new theatre and arts centre on the site of the Granada studios to be known as "The Factory Manchester" and various arts projects in all the Northern cities to commemorate the First World War. Of all the investments announced by the Government it is The Factory that has aroused most interest. On its website Manchester City Council wrote:
"The Factory Manchester will play an integral part in helping Manchester and the North of England provide a genuine cultural counterbalance to London, supporting the city and region's growth."
The Council estimates that the Factory Manchester will create 2,300 jobs and generate revenues of £134 million per year within 10 years.

This investment in communications, manufacturing, science, technology and the arts is bound to result in new businesses, designs, inventions and works of art and literature all of which will require legal protection. We shall continue to advise on the legal issues that may arise from time to time. Should anyone wish to discuss this article, the Northern Powerhouse or the Autumn Statement in general he or she should call me during office hours on 0161 850 0080 during office hours or click my contact form.

Further Reading

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Start Smart

Lowry Hotel
Photo Wikipedia

I first mentioned the Business Growth Hub on the 31 Dec 2012. It describes itself as
"A community for ambitious growing businesses to thrive, with the support and expertise of first class industry leaders brought together by the Business Growth Hub ,"
The Business Growth Hub was established in 2011 and is accountable to the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership. On the 22 Oct 2014 it organized Manchester's first ever Venturefest (a rare example of Manchester following a lead from Yorkshire) and on Friday 7 Nov 2014 it held its first Start Smart Conference at The Lowry Hotel.

The conference was directed at those thinking of setting up their own businesses.  Having attended the Northern Futures Summit 8 Nov 2014 IP Yorkshire and Ballet Black's Triple Bill 7 Nov 2014 Terpsichore in Leeds the day before I arrived at the morning coffee break which meant that I missed Prof Lynn Martin of the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University, Isla Wilson of Ruby Star Associates and Gemma Roe of Rotunda Living. However, I did catch futurologist Tom Cheeswright of Book of the Future and Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management who delivered interesting and in a sense complementary presentations. 

My ears pricked up when Mr Urquhart Stewart said that he had been a barrister which prompted me to ask him why in the Q & A session at the end. I observed that this was rather a good time to be a barrister as the Legal Services Act 2007 had opened up the industry to competition. I added that the Bar built had always outsourced its management and marketing operations to clerks while getting on with the business which was a business model that both he and Mr Cheeswright had commended.  Mr Urquhart Stewart replied that I was a very rare breed indeed. In his experience most barristers and indeed solicitors were foundering. He said that his brother who was responsible for running a set of chambers elsewhere in the country had engaged the services of a marketing guru without thinking about who they were marketing to or what they were marketing. However, he did concede that there was something in my observation and that lawyers (like anyone else) should respond to change by assessing what they were good at and offering their services to those who needed their skills rather than bemoaning changes in the market.

For the last two hours we attended business breakout master classes in accessing finance, cyber security, marketing Manchester and IP.  I had put my name down for IP and accessing finance. The IP master class was given by Tom Lambert and Rachel Nicholls and I am ashamed to say that I probably made a confounded nuisance of myself (for which I apologize) by asking questions of second medical use when Tom was talking about obviousness and the unitary patent as well as making an observation about confidentiality. They both spoke well and I learned something new from Rachel, namely that the tick that Nike has registered as a trade mark may derive from a fold on the dress of a statute of the goddess. I never made the access to funding seminar because I was waylaid by Sean Randles by webvm who taught us all about making YouTube videos. Another excellent presentation.

During the day I met some interesting entrepreneurs including a young chemical engineer who was starting her own industrial waste disposal consultancy and had brought her little boy with her. Regrettably she had forgotten her business cards but I gave her one of mine and I do hope that she gets in touch with me for I can think of several possible areas for collaboration. I also met Gyles Denn, the Business Growth Up's Start-up Manager who impressed me considerably and we discussed possible ways in which I can contribute to the business community of my native city.

Altogether it was an excellent day. Comparing it to Northern Futures the day before we may not have had the Deputy Prime Minister, Mayors and Council Leaders or leading thinkers like Jim O'Neil, Ed Glaeser or Tony Travers but we got some really useful practical tips and information which we can use in our businesses tomorrow. If anyone wants to discuss this article or entrepreneurship in general, he or she should call me during office hours on 0161 850 0080 or click my contact form.

Saturday, 25 October 2014


I am grateful to Barbara Cookson for alerting me to the press release Deputy Prime Minister launches TechNorth.  According to the press release TechNorth is
"a major new Northern Futures project bringing the pockets of excellence in tech industries from across the North together to form an internationally renowned virtual hub." 
The idea is to
"co-ordinate the many pockets of excellence dotted around the region – including the existing digital technology expertise of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and the North East tech cluster. It will do what Tech City UK has done for East London – put it on the international map."
Not surprisingly, Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent,  has expressed some caution ("Can a northern tech cluster take off? 23 Oct 2014 BBC).

Tech City succeeds because skills, capital, customers and suppliers are concentrated in the same place. It is one of the consequences of agglomeration.  If there is to be a technology cluster in the North the conditions that created Tech City - in other words, agglomeration - have to be created here.

As it happens I was at the  "International Economic Conference" in Leeds on 4 July 2014 where Nick Clegg announced the launch of Northern Futures (see Power. Performance. Potential. Leeds Economic Conference 5 July 2014).  In his speech Clegg called for the great city regions (or metros) of the North to work together to create a Northern agglomeration.  As you can see from my article, though Clegg spoke quite a lot of sense his message to local politicians seemed to fall on deaf ears.

A couple of things have happened since 4 July 2014 that may change such attitudes. First, the Scottish referendum forced the government to promise the package of powers to the Scottish Parliament that are known as "devo max". That has created something of a backlash in the rest of the UK which will only be satisfied when similar powers are devolved to Wales and Northern Ireland and the regions of England. Secondly, the City Growth Commission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) published Unleashing Metro Growth: Final recommendations of the City Growth Commission on 23 Oct 2014.  The report envisaged six "powerhouse super city regions" by 2030 namely London, North, Midlands, Central Scotland, North East and Severn. The North super city region would consist of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Merseyside with a combined population of 6.9 million and a GVA at 21012 prices of £232 billion (an uplift of £19.4 billion).

The idea of a northern agglomeration has been met with scepticism and outright hostility in some circles. "We don't want some kind of northern goo" tweeted someone in response to one if my earlier articles. But agglomeration need not mean loss of identity or the abandonment of local loyalties.  Look at London football teams. There has never been a "London United". Teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, QPR, Tottenham and West Ham which compete in the Premier League are based in districts of Greater London. London is a network of villages and the sense of belonging to the "East End" or "South London" is arguably as strong as county loyalties in the North.

Further Reading
For a bibliography on Northern regeneration and devolution, see my article Northern Futures Summit 8 Nov 2014 IP Yorkshire