Thursday 25 January 2024

An IP Clinic for M-SParc

Author Chris Andrews Licence CC BY-SA Deed Source Geograph


Jane Lambert

There is a network of public libraries linked to the British Library that offer a range of services to artists, designers, entrepreneurs inventors and other creatives.  Each of those libraries is known as a "Business and Intellectual Property Centre" or "BIPC".  One of the network's most popular services are Intellectual Property clinics which offer free consultations with patent or trade mark attorneys, lawyers and other professionals specializing in IP.

Probably because much of the initial funding for the network was provided by Arts Council England, there are no BIPCs in Wales.  Wales may be losing out because the BIPCs appear to contribute substantially to the economy.   According to an independent economic impact analysis of the national network between April 2013 – March 2015, BIPCs

  • "generated £38 million GVA (Gross Value Added) on investment, with an estimated increase to £214 million by 2018
  • created almost 1,700 new businesses and over 4,200 jobs, with an estimated increase to over 4,100 new businesses and over 22,000 new jobs within the next 3 years (almost a third in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’)
  • created a payback of £4.50 for every £1 of public money (estimated to grow to £25 payback for every £1 invested by 2018)
  • supported diverse communities: 47% of network users were women, 26% of users were BAME and 25% were unemployed or had been made redundant
  • achieved lower cost per job created and higher GVA leverage, compared with other business support initiatives"
(see British Library's Business & IP Centre national network published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 16 Dec 2015).

The IP clinics at the English BIPCs are staffed by local lawyers, patent and trade mark attorneys and other professionals and receive little or no public funding,  While a BIPC is unlikely to open in North Wales any time soon there is no reason why IP professionals practising in North Wales should not set up their own IP clinic.  Over the weekend I consulted Emily Roberts of M-SParc, patent attorney Sean Thomas, commercial solicitor Andrea Knox and IP tax accountant Steve Livingston and all were in favour.

As Sean and I plan to attend the Artificial Intelligence for Business workshop on 31 Jan 2024, we shall be in M-SParc between 14:00 and 15:30 to discuss our plans for the clinic with the science park's tenants and other local business owners.   Should anyone require a private consultation with Sean or me on an IP issue that is presently concerning them we shall talk to them there and then.  If someone has an issue that Steve or Andrea is best placed to handle we shall refer that enquirer to one of those professionals,   Each of us has a network of contacts around the world so if a business owner wants to export to China or an invention needs a prototype for your invention we can put him or her in touch with the right person.

If the launch on 31 Jan 2024 is successful we shall operate a triage system.   We shall ask users to fill in the following form which my clerk or I will acknowledge.    If Sean, Andrea, Steve or I can advise by phone, Zoom or email we shall give the enquirer an immediate answer.   If he or she needs a meeting at least one IP professional will be in M-SParc at least once a month.

If anyone wants to talk to me about this project he or she should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or use the following form:

Fill out my online form.

Sunday 14 January 2024

IP and the Sustainable Development Goals in Wales


Jane Lambert

In World IP Day 2024 - IP and the Sustainable Development Goals I reported that the theme for this year's World Intellectual Property Day would be IP and the SDGs: Building our common future with innovation and creativity.  Nowhere in the UK attaches more importance to those goals than Wales.  It was one of the first countries in the world to adopt a constitutional duty of sustainable development.  It announced its first Sustainable Development Scheme – Learning to Live Differently in 2000.  The National Assembly for Wales (as the Senedd was then known) enacted the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.  In 2019 the Welsh government published Wales and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

S.5 of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 sets out a table of goals that are compatible with but not identical to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.   These are known as the "Well-being Goals":

  • "A prosperous Wales:  An innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources efficiently and proportionately (including acting on climate change); and which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities, allowing people to take advantage of the wealth generated through securing decent work. 
  • A resilient Wales: A nation which maintains and enhances a biodiverse natural environment with healthy functioning ecosystems that support social, economic and ecological resilience and the capacity to adapt to change (for example climate change).
  • A healthier Wales: A society in which people's physical and mental well-being is maximised and in which choices and behaviours that benefit future health are understood.
  • A more equal Wales: A society that enables people to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances (including their socio economic background and circumstances).
  • A Wales of cohesive communities: Attractive, viable, safe and well-connected communities. 
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language: A society that promotes and protects culture, heritage and the Welsh language, and which encourages people to participate in the arts, and sports and recreation. 
  • A globally responsible Wales: A nation which, when doing anything to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, takes account of whether doing such a thing may make a positive contribution to global well-being."
Obligations are placed upon the Ministers of the Welsh Government and public services to promote the Well-Being Goals.   An official known as The Future Generations Commissioner of Wales is established by s.17 to promote the sustainable development principles and perform the functions in s.19.

As the Well-Being Goals are fewer and more tightly defined than the 17 Sustainable Development Goals it will be easier to relate them to intellectual property law.  For example, the legal protection of branding, design, technology and creative works is essential to the prosperity of Wales and more or less anything said on those topics would be relevant.  A Healthier Wales can focus on the needs of the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries in Wales and on the use of artificial intelligence and big data in finding new medicines and treatments.  "A Wales of Vibrant Culture and thriving Welsh language:" could discuss the arts, universities, education, broadcasting and cinema in Wales.

 On all those topics the management of the Menai Science Park and the park's businesses are brimming with talent and experience.   If the net is cast wider to catch AberInnovation, Tramshed, the Pontio Centre and the Universities Wales can create a brilliant contribution to IP and the Sustainable Development Goals.  In an upcoming meeting with Emily Roberts and Iwan Pitts, I shall suggest a programme based on Wales's unique contribution to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals for M-SParc's World IP Day celebrations..

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal office hours or send me a message through my contact page,

Tuesday 26 December 2023

World IP Day 2024 - IP and the Sustainable Development Goals

Jane Lambert

World Intellectual Property Day is an international festival of creativity and innovation which takes place on or around 26 April of every year. It celebrates the entry into force of the international agreement that established the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"), the UN specialist agency that assists governments to protect investment in creativity, enterprise and innovation ("intellectual assets") through a bundle of laws known collectively as "intellectual property". World IP Day is one of two annual intellectual property events that the Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") celebrates every year.   The other is Wales Enterprise Day which takes place in November,

Every year World IP Day revolves around a different theme.   The theme for 2024 will be "IP and the Sustainable Development Goals".  There are 17 sustainable development goals which are introduced by this YouTube video.  M-SParc and the other science parks of Wales have businesses that promote those goals.  World IP Day 2024 will be a splendid opportunity to promote and celebrate those enterprises. This year's celebrations by M-SParc and other organizations throughout the United Kingdom should do much to bring the sustainable development goals to the attention of the British public.   Although I like to keep of myself as reasonably well informed of such matters I had only the sketchiest awareness of the programme before the announcement of the theme for this year's World IP Day,

As the theme for World IP Day 2024 has only just been announced I have not yet had an opportunity to confer with the management of M-SParc about this year's celebrations.  In the past, the park's managing director, Pryderi ap Rhisiart,  has put Emily Roberts, M-SParc's Outreach and Community Manager, in charge of the event and I have assisted Emily by suggesting speakers and chairing pr speaking at the event on the day. I shall be very glad to assist M-SParc again if it so wishes this year. As soon as the Christmas and New Year's Day holidays are over, I shall seek an early video conference with Emily and her colleague, Iwan Pitts, to discuss M-SParc's contributions to the World IP Day 2024 celebrations.

By celebrating World IP Day and Wales Enterprise Day, M-SParc has done much to raise awareness of the importance of intellectual property not only among its own tenants but also among businesses and institutions throughout Northwest Wales. Safeguarding businesses' investment in branding, creativity, design and innovation is crucial to the economic regeneration of the region.

Anyone wishing to discuss this topic can call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal business hours after the holidays. In the meantime, they are welcome to send me a message through my contact form.

Thursday 30 November 2023

Building on the Success of Wales Enterprise Day 2023


Jane Lambert

The Menai Science Park  (M-SParc)'s seminar Restoring Bridges with Europe on 17 Nov 2023 to celebrate Wales Enterprise Day was the park's most successful intellectual property event ever. 

M-SParc was hooked up to AberInnovation in Aberystwyth, Tramshed Tech in Barry, Cardiff, Newport and Swansea and the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin. Individual speakers and attendees joined the event from Dublin, London and all parts of Wales. We had excellent presentations from John Glennane and Mike Hawkes of CapVentis, Patrick O'Connor of VRAI and James Bridgeman SC of the Irish Bar, There were also helpful interventions from Patricia McGovern of DFMG and Elinor Cavil of DLA Piper.  A lot of information on the business and legal environments of the UK and Ireland was exchanged and new contacts were made.

Two new initiatives have arisen from the event.  Tom Burke of Haia suggested a seminar on patenting software-implemented inventions.   In Europe, unlike the United States, China, Japan and India, there is an express  exclusion from patentability for:

"(a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
(b) aesthetic creations;
(c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers
(d) presentations of information
........ as such."

The words "as such" are important because they allow software-implemented inventions to be implemented in certain circumstances.  The courts and the European and national patent offices have developed elaborate rules as to when the exception applies and when it does not.  Emily Roberts welcomed Tom's suggestion and asked me to consider how a seminar or conference on software patents could take place. 

This is an issue that affects a lot of businesses in many different industries throughout Wales and beyond.  It should have the widest possible coverage.  In Yorkshire, intellectual property awareness is spread by an organization with the acronym TIPSY  ("The Intellectual Property Society of Yorkshire"). There is a need in Wales for a similar body to bring together practitioners from both branches of the legal profession, patent and trade mark attorneys, legal scholars, government bodies and most importantly tenants of the Welsh science parks and other knowledge-based businesses.   

Most IP specialists in Wales are to be found around the university cities.   Because of the distances between those centres, a Wales IP society would rely on video conferencing rather than on face-to-face meetings. In that regard, the success of the Wales Enterprise Day seminar in connecting the science parks shows just what can be achieved by technology.

Over the Christmas holidays, I shall put together proposals for a 2 - 3 hour seminar on software patents to be addressed by leading experts in the field.   I shall also draw up plans for a Wales IP society which would be based in M-SParc but would hold events in other places as and when requested,   All meetings would be linked by video conference and recorded on YouTube,

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal office hours or send me a message through my contact form,

Sunday 29 October 2023

Wales Enterprise Day - Wales's Relationship with Ireland".

Dublin Castle
Author Donaldytong Licence CC BY-SA 3.0 Deed Source Wikimedia Commons

Jane Lambert

On Wales Enterprise Day the Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") celebrates the businesses that have graduated from start-up to scale-up.   By definition, scale-ups seek to expand their business not only in the United Kingdom but also overseas.   An obvious stepping stone for expansion for businesses that have established themselves in Wales is the Republic of Ireland.  That is why the theme of this year's Wales Enterprise Day is "Rebuilding Bridges with Europe - Wales's Relationship with Ireland".   

Traffic between Wales and Ireland is not all one way.  Despite Brexit, Britain remains an attractive market for Irish businesses.  It has a market of over 65 million consumers, a highly developed financial services sector and it was recently ranked by the WIPO as the 4th most innovative country in the world (see WIPO Global Innovation Index 2023).  With its science parks, enterprise zones and proximity to Ireland, Wales is a good place for Irish companies to set up their first base.

To explore the opportunities for Welsh scale-ups in Ireland and Irish scale-ups in Wales the main event on Wales Enterprise Day will be a hybrid seminar between 12:30 and 14:00 entitled "Adfer Pontydd gydag Ewrop" or "Restoring Bridges with Europe," It will link the Welsh science parks AberInnovation, M-SParc and Transhed Tech with the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin. One high-tech company that operates in both Wales and Ireland is the IT consultancy CapVentis. That company's CEO John Glennane and its CTO Mark Hawkes will outline some of the practical issues of carrying on business in Wales and Ireland.  

Ireland's intellectual property laws are very similar to those of Wales and England.  Ireland is a party to the European Patent Convention and has signed but not yet ratified the Unified Patent Court  Agreement (see OJ 20.6.2013 C175/1). Applicants for patents can choose between a European patent or an Irish patent granted under the Patents Act 1992.  There is a further choice between full-term and short-term patents.   Brand owners can choose between an EU trade mark granted by the EU Intellectual Property Office ("EUIPO") in Alicante under the EU Trade Mark Regulation or an Irish trade mark granted by the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland ("IPOI") in Kilkenny under the Trade Marks Act 1996. Similarly, design owners may seek a registered Community design under the Community design regulation from the EU IPO or an Irish registered design from the IPOI under the Industrial Designs Act 2001.

For British owners of EU trade marks and registered Community designs or EU plant varieties it is worth remembering that the Irish High Court remains an EU trade mark court and a Community design court.  Actions for the enforcement  of those rights can usually be brought in those courts where the procedure will be very similar to that of the courts of Wales and England,

Guidance on those issues will be provided by James Bridgeman SC a leading member of the Irish Bar,  I shall offer similar guidance to any member of the audience who wants information on Welsh and English law.   I shall invite other professionals, investors and other experts to join the audience and comment on matters within their expertise,

Anyone requiring further information should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Wales Enterprise Day - Rebuilding Bridges with Europe

Menai Suspension Bridge


Jane Lambert

Wales Enterprise Day is an annual celebration of Welsh creativity, enterprise and innovation in all sectors of its national life including education and government as well as business.  Every year it revolves around a different theme,   in 2021 the theme was "From Start-Up to Scale-Up" and in 2022 it was about "Obtaining and Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights Abroad."  This year it is "Rebuilding Bridges with Europe - Wales's Relationship with Ireland".

Anyone flying into a continental airport or checking into the Eurostar will have noticed significantly longer delays in clearing immigration since 2020.  British passports now have to be checked and stamped and there are limits to how long their holders can stay and what they can do in most of the EU.  The one country where there has been no significant change is the Republic of Ireland largely thanks to the much-maligned Northern Ireland protocol to the agreement for the UK's withdrawal from the EU and Eueatom.  All parts of Ireland remain in the Common Travel Area and the rights of British citizens to live and work in the Irish Republic and those of Irish nationals to live and work here are largely unaffected by brexit (see HM government's recently updated Common Travel Area Guidance).

As the Republic of Ireland remains in the EU it serves as a bridge between Britain and the rest of the European Union.   The Irish courts, for example, are still European Trade Mark and Community Design Courts which will entertain claims for infringement of EU trade marks and registered Community designs held by British nationals.   The Brussels Recast Regulation continues to apply to the Irish Republic which makes it considerably easier for a judgment of an Irish court to be enforced in most of continental Europe than a British one.  These were points that were made eloquently by James Bridgeman SC at the first of a series of talks on the Latest Developments in IP Law which he delivered in London on 18 Sept 2023.

Janes who participated in last year's Wales Enterprise Day over Zoom will be at the Menai Science Park ("M-SPark") in person this year underscoring the proximity of Dublin to the park.  However, intellectual property and other legal issues will not be the only topics to be discussed at our lunchtime seminar "Rebuilding Bridges with Europe - Wales's Relationship with Ireland" on 17 Nob 2023.  One of my fellow guests at the reception in the House of Lords which I discussed in Reflections on Wales Innovation Week in London on 20 Sept 2023 was Mr John Glennane of CapVentis.  According to its website, CapVentis "works with some of the world’s largest brands in delivering integrated solutions around analytics, customer engagement and experience management works with some of the world’s largest brands in delivering integrated solutions around analytics, customer engagement and experience management."  John told me that CapVentis had recently moved its UK office from London to M-SPark.

While I was in London, Mr Pryderi ap Rhisiart, M-SParc's Managing Director, told me about the park's close and ever-strengthening ties with Ireland.   It was he who suggested a focus on Ireland for this year's Wales Enterprise Day.  His suggestion makes a lot of sense because Dublin is developing rapidly as a leading financial centre (no doubt benefiting considerably from brexit) and it is geographically closer to M-SParc than London or even Cardiff.  There is as yet no direct air service to Dublin but Maes Awyr Môn has already hosted a commercial air service to Cardiff, If the Anglesey Enterprise Zone succeeds there is likely to be sufficient traffic to justify a connection with Dublin.   Ireland which already hosts the European offices of some of the world's largest tech companies and many smaller ones has no shortage of private equity and angel investors who might take an interest in the new knowledge-based businesses of Northwest Wales.

Over the next few weeks, I shall publish more details of the Rebuilding Bridges with Europe seminar as ideas crystalize,   In the meantime, anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Reflections on Wales Innovation Week in London

Palace of Westminster
Claude Monet


Jane Lambert

One of my favourite YouTube channels is Ben Llywelyn's. He is an American by origin who has learnt Welsh and settled in Wales.  He makes videos about Wales, its history and languages, mainly but not exclusively Welsh.  As a Cambriophile and a student of Welsh, I often watch his channel.

He  has recently published a particularly interesting video called "How do we save Welsh Devolution from killing itself?" He argued that sections of the public are losing interest in politics because none of the parties that are likely to form a government represents their views.  The Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, the only parties likely to form a government in Wales, are essentially social democratic with very similar outlooks.  Liberal Democrats are also inclining towards the left and the Conservatives are increasingly populist.  The absence of a moderate right-of-centre voice has allowed parties like Reform UK and UKIP  to win seats in the Senedd.  So, too, has a party called "Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party",

Llywelyn contends that those parties have managed to gain a foothold because there is in Wales no credible right-of-centre counterweight to Plaid Cymru and Labour as in other countries including most of the rest of Britain.  He suggests that the only way to create a moderate right-of-centre voice is to expand the professional and managerial classes in Wales. That requires the development of knowledge-based businesses with well-paid jobs in such industries as financial services, telecommunications and computing.  Only when there is an aspiring, entrepreneurial, property-owning class in significant numbers in Wales will changes in policy be possible.  

I abstain from commenting on Llywelyn's political analysis because I do not live in Wales but I have held a similar view on economics for many years.   I have visited Northwest Wales regularly all my life,  Throughout that time I have seen its industries decline and some of the best and the brightest of its young people leave the region.  Since 2018   Menai Science Park ("M-SParc")  and the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre have begun to arrest and even reverse those trends.

In M-SParc is coming to London - Mae M-SParc yn dod i Lundain, I announced that M-SParc would host a series of events in London.  These would range from a reception in the House of Lords to a coding class for the students of the London Welsh School.  I attended the reception and most of the Digital Wales events.

The reception took place in the Attlee and Reid Room in the Palace of Westminster between 15:30 and 17:00 on Monday, 11 Sept 2023.  Guests were welcomed by Pryderi ap Rhisiart, Managing Director of M-SParc and Lord Wigley.  I knew quite a lot about Lord Wigley's political career but nothing about his business acumen.  In his speech, he mentioned that he ran a business in Llanberis that had created 400 jobs. Other speeches were delivered by the Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University. the Secretary of State for Wales, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Welsh Government and Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation.

By far the most interesting speech was Prof. Badyal's, He discussed the plan to expand Wales's scientific capabilities.   In describing that plan Prof Badyal discussed the efforts of other small countries such as Israel and Singapore. There was no formal Q&A but as I had been sitting quite close to him, I buttonholed him to ask why Wales fell behind all the nations and regions of the UK in the number of patent applications except Northeast England and Northern Ireland (see Table 2.1a: Patent applications, publications and grants1 by region).  I also suggested to him that the Lambert Toolkit precedents should be updated and that Welsh businesses and academics might like to make their own Toolkit.   I renewed those observations in the panel discussions at the Digital Wales event the next day, 

If Prof Badyal's speech was the most interesting Dame Ottoline's was the most flattering.  She described the University of Bangor as a jewel in Wales's crown and M-SParc as its most glittering.  I was personally heartened by the Secretary of State's approval of the UK's rejoining Horizon Europe   He explained that he had been a brexiteer during the referendum campaign but nevertheless favoured a good relationship with the EU.

The reception was attended by representatives of Wales's other science parks.  Just before the event, I met Rhian Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of Aberinnovation who had chaired a conference at Aberystwyth's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences on 13 March 2019 at which I delivered a presentation and others from Aberinnovation in Victoria Gardens.  Inside the Attlee and Reid Room, I met representatives of Bangor, Swansea, Wrexham Glyndwr and other Universities, Menter Môn, AMRC Cymru, business angels, private equity investors and many others who are promoting knowledge-based industries in Wales.   All those meetings took place over sandwiches, cakes, tea and later wine,   The reception was an excellent start to the next 4 days of talks and networking.

The following day I attended Digital Wales in the Welsh Government's offices at 25 Victoria Street.  The event consisted of four sets of presentations and panel discussions on the topics of leveraging data, cybersecurity, smart towns and digital creativity and an indication of the good things to expect at Wales Tech  Week which is to be held between 16 and 18 Oct 2023 at the International Convention Centre, Wales just outside Newport.  This was an opportunity to see many old acquaintances such as Tom Burke of Haia, Carwyn Edwards who must take much of the credit for the success of the Digital Wales event and Richard Scott formerly of GlobalWelsh as well as make many new connections. Sustained by endless supplies of bara brith and Welsh cakes we covered a lot of topics in just 5 hours of talk,

Welsh Innovation Week continued for another two days with discussions on energy, trade and investment at the Welsh Government office and a reception hosted by GlobalWelsh on the theme "Connect to London", I would happily have stayed for the whole week had been free to do so.   

If the objects of the exercise were to establish new connections, renew existing ones and raise the profile of the M-SParc and  Aberinnovation science parks, their tenants, the Welsh universities and other participating institutions in London, the week was a great success. The economy of rural Wales is changing thanks in part to such initiatives as the science parks and the Pontio Centre,  Whether that will bring about the social and political changes for which Ben Llywelyn hopes remains to be seen.   Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.