- Agxio which describes itself as "an AI, data science and machine learning company that specialises in the biotech, life sciences and agricultural science industries";
- AMIGROW. "a service that aims to integrate field information, about crop condition and management practices, with high-quality satellite imagery in order to provide agricultural managers valuable insights to manage crop production and maximise crop yield";
- ARCITEKBio which commercializes a platform for the processing of agricultural waste into high-value products including xylitol a challenge to the global sweeteners market;
- BIC Innovation, a leading consultancy that I have known and with which I have occasionally collaborated for nearly 20 years;
- Biosample Hub, an online platform that connects biotech and pharma companies with hospital biobanks to support the research and development of new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines;
- Cambrian Cyber Consulting, a "provider of cyber and information security consultancy expertise, with affordable service offerings for companies wishing to assess, health-check and audit cyber risk"
- CHAP, a UK Agri-Tech Centre that brings together leading scientists, farmers, advisors, innovators and businesses to understand industry challenges, drive research and innovation and develop and trial solutions that transform crop systems;
- Cydweithio, Welsh for "Collaboration", brings together a selected set of primarily Welsh small businesses specialising in electronics and software and offers their products and services to the market;
- EISA Tea Co., an ethical and sustainable tea business that aims to inspire informed change in consumer habits;
- LeafCann which is on a "mission is to advance the re-introduction of plant-based extracts in medicine and nutrition through conducting and supporting product and industry research and development, clinical trials, commercial production and GMP manufacturing:
- PhytoQuest innovates "natural ingredients and compounds in the high-margin healthy-living products emerging from the convergence of food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics";
- PlantSea aims to replace environmentally damaging petroleum-based plastics with sustainable and biodegradable alternatives;
- Reselan, "a process development and implementation company, with the purpose of improving environmental and economic performance of businesses and other organizations;"
- Shire Meadery aims to create unique light meads with a focus on delicate flavours and drinkability;
- Starfish Labs on a mission to design and build apps that improve people's lives, that is to say, "apps for living – mobile and web apps for training, education, healthcare, tourism and to support people with learning difficulties and disabilities, and for our ageing population;"
- Techion, "a full-stack information company, integrating several modes of technology (hardware, software and data) to deliver solutions for complex disease problems;"
- Terravesta which describes itself as "the world-leading energy crop supply chain specialist, producing sustainable energy from marginal land using miscanthus;
- Watercress Research Ltd, a "phytochemical research company developing natural solutions to medical conditions;"
- Yma, which means "here" in Welsh, aims "to create the conditions where primary care in Wales thrives now and for future generations;"
- "ZipFarming is concerned with the research, development and commercialisation of AI-led ecosystem and farm services that when combined with satellite location, can enable payment or credit services to farmers;" and
- ZipMobility which "enables intelligent mobility services for UK agriculture and also off-road rural supply-chains in the developing world. "
Monday, 25 October 2021
Tuesday, 19 October 2021
|Author Worthhog Licence CC BY-SA 3.0 Source Wikimedia Commons|
"Over the last 15 years, first as an entrepreneur and now as an investor, I’ve seen many award-winning ventures end up in the global startup graveyard. Why? In large part, because very few of them secured intellectual property (IP) rights to protect their business assets."
He explained that that was because of an inadequate understanding of IP and a belief that IP protection is inordinately expensive. For many start-ups, IP is something that is nice to have but for those who invest in a scale-up adequate IP protection is crucial. Without such protection, it is only too easy for a predator to swallow a market or technology that has been carefully developed by the start-up. Specialist advice and representation do not come cheap but, as Singh also observed in his article, failure to protect a business's brands, designs, technology and creative output comes with an enormous price tag.
However, there is such a thing as having too much IP. In my career at the patent bar, I have seen far more business failures resulting from having too much IP protection than from having too little That is because businesses apply for patents they will never work, trade marks where they have no trade and designs for products they will never put into production. That wastes resources because registrations have to be renewed, policed and occasionally defended and enforced. A crisis occurs when those costs amount to more than the company can afford.
To avoid either extreme businesses need to devise IP strategies and integrate those strategies into their business plans. According to Singh, that is one of the indicators for which investors look when deciding whether or not to invest in a business:
"In the modern economy, IP assets often drive current and future revenues, so investors like to see that entrepreneurs have integrated IP rights into their business plans. Evidence of some kind of convincing approach to IP will, at the very least, mean that companies are better aligned with investors on the big question of how to sell the company for billions of dollars one day."
An IP strategy should, of course, take account of a company's research and development and marketing the aims and costs of which should also feature in its business plan.
As every business is different every business's IP strategy should be tailored to its specific needs. In a tech company, the emphasis may be on patenting and trade secrecy. If the company offers a new service it will focus on branding, data and business format. The starting point should be the intellectual assets that the business already has and those that it intends to develop. That will usually require an intellectual asset audit and sometimes specialist valuation. The costs of patenting and trade mark and design registration should be factored in. Consideration should be given not only to the UK but also to the countries in which the scale-up expects to do business or from where it anticipates competition. The strategy should provide for validity challenges and infringement actions and make arrangements for deploying an effective response. Often it is useful to consult an IP strategist when devising the strategy. Ideally, the IP strategist should be someone other than the professional who is already prosecuting your patent, trade mark or design registration applications (see Jane Lambert What is Intellectual Property Strategy? Updated 1 Sept 2017 NIPC Law).
On 11 Nov 2021, I will chair a seminar at the Menai Science Park (M-SParc) called "Scaling Up - Wales Enterprise Day" that will discuss how start-ups can leap across the chasm to become scale-ups. Emily Roberts and I have assembled a panel of experts on funding, intellectual asset valuation, scale-ups, patenting and the law. Edward French of Pinpoint Capital will tell us what VCs and angels look for in a scale-up. Alison Orr of Inngot will discuss intellectual asset valuation and leverage. One of BICInnovation's scale-up specialists will talk about growth strategies. Sean Thomas of Thomas Harrison will outline the patenting and trade mark and design issues in scaling up. Andrea Knox of Knox Commercial Solicitors will address due diligence, shareholders' agreements and other matters. If you can reach M-SParc by 12:00 on 11 Nov you can attend in person. Otherwise, you can follow it online. Either way, you will need to register through Eventbrite.
Later on 11 Nov 2021 there will be a pitching event for businesses that want to become scale-ups before real investors which will also take place before a live audience at M-SParc and streamed online. This is a unique opportunity to watch angels and possibly other investors in action. Again, if you can make it to the park by 16:00 you can attend in person. Alternatively, you can watch over the Internet. Again, you will need to register with Eventbrite.
Anyone wishing to discuss this article further may call me on 020 7494 5252 during normal office hours or send me a message through my contact form.
Wednesday, 6 October 2021
|UK Patent Office at Newport|
Crown Copyright Licence Open Government Licence
"(a) a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method;
(b) a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation whatsoever;
(c) a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a program for a computer;
(d) the presentation of information."
That exclusion covers great swathes of innovation in our increasingly services orientated internet-based economy. Happily, there are other ways of protecting a new technology.
If the invention cannot easily be reverse engineered it may be better to keep it secret. The law of confidence bolstered recently by the Trade Secrets Directive prevents unauthorized use or disclosure of secret technical or commercial information. A restriction on unauthorized use or disclosure lasts until the information is in the public domain. In some cases, that can be a very long time. The recipe for Coca Cola has been kept secret for more than a century and the recipe for Chartreuse for very much longer. The information has to be secret, it must have some inherent value and it must be imparted in circumstances giving rise to an obligation of confidence. Usually, that means a confidentiality agreement but there are other circumstances where an obligation of confidence will be implied. For instance, a patent attorney is bound by such an obligation when he or she advises an inventor on the patentability of a new invention. The information technology industry, in particular, relies heavily on trade secrecy law to protect algorithms, source codes and other unpublished information.
Many innovative new products, particularly in the consumer electronics, fashion and beauty, toys and novelty industries, have a very short shelf life. For them, short term protection from copying is enough. The UK is one of a very small number of countries that protects "the design of the shape or configuration (whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article" from unlicensed reproduction. Such protection, known as "unregistered design right" subsists automatically in original designs. There is no need for examination, registration or professional help. Design right protection can last up to 15 years if the design is not exploited by the marketing of articles made to the design or 10 years where it has. However, in the last 5 years of the design right term, anyone in the world can apply to the design right owner for a licence to use the design as of right. Any dispute over the terms of the licence can be settled by the Intellectual Property Office.
The design of semiconductor chips is protected in the UK by a modified form of design right under The Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989 as amended by The Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018. The main differences lie in the qualifying countries, the term of design right and the exclusion of the licence of right provisions.
Although computer programs as such cannot be patented, computer programs, preparatory design material for computer programs and databases are specifically included in the definition of "literary work". Copyright subsists automatically in original literary works and lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. There is no need for registration in the UK or most other countries. It is however important to note that copyright provides protection against copying. It does not prevent the making of a similar or even identical work provided that there has been no copying of or reference to the copyright work. IT and many other industries that supply goods and services over the internet rely heavily on copyright.
The breeding of new varieties of seeds and plants is an increasingly important technology in view of climate change. In the USA and some other countries, it is possible to obtain plant patents (see General Information About 35 U.S.C. 161 Plant Patents on the US Patents and Trademark Office website). In the UK plant breeders' rights are protected by registration with the Plant Variety Rights Office under the Plant Varieties Act 1997 (see Plant Breeders' Rights).
It is important to bear in mind that consumers are often drawn to a new product by its shape or reputation rather than the technology under the hood. Designs of new products with individual character can be registered under the Registered Designs Act 1949 for up to 25 years. They are also protected by unregistered design rights and a new supplementary unregistered design right. The surface decoration of a fabric, wall covering or other product can usually be protected from copying by copyright. Occasionally, the article itself qualifies for protection as a work of artistic craftsmanship. The reputation of a product or service is its brand. Brands are protected in the UK by the registration of their name, logo or other indicia as a trade mark and by the common law of passing off.
Anyone requiring additional information on any of those matters should fill in the following form.
Friday, 24 September 2021
|Author User (WT-Shared) Cardiff Public Domain Source Wikipedia Cymru|
On our visit, my travelling companion and I were welcomed in English and Welsh by a very kindly gentleman called Shay who is a "Visitor Engagement Officer." I have been learning Welsh for just over a year with SaySomethingin supplemented by online courses from Popeth Cymraeg, Nant Gwrtheyrn and the London Welsh Centre but I have found it very difficult to practise speaking the language. The moment Shay uttered the words "Bore da" I responded joyfully with "Oh! Dach chi'n siarad Cymraeg?" And happily, he did. For several minutes he patiently listened to my laboured sentences, grammatical errors and mispronunciations before ushering us through the security screen and introducing us to a colleague. Shay's colleague showed us the chamber, a debate in committee over a video link, various infographics showing the composition of the Senedd, its constituencies and regional lists, exhibitions celebrating the history of devolved government in Wales and the Welsh Afro-Caribbean community's experience in Wales before depositing us in the tea room with panoramic views of Cardiff Bay where my friend and I enjoyed cacennau cri, bara brith and paneidiau o de.
I shall be at Nant Gwrtheyrn between 27 and 29 Sept 2021 and intend to visit M-SParc during that time. Should any tenant or other local business wish to discuss an intellectual property or related legal issue please call my clerk David on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form to make an appointment.
Sunday, 5 September 2021
M-SParc (the Menai Science Park) has a mission is to promote science and technology throughout Wales and not just in Anglesey. According to its press release, M-SParc takes Tech on Tour by Launching New Colwyn Bay Location personnel from the science park engaged with nearly 700 local residents on visits to Bethesda and Botwnnog before lockdown. Those visits have now resumed and M-SParc's latest port of call is Colwyn Bay where it has established a temporary base at 29 Conway Road.
Like many seaside resorts, Colwyn Bay flourished in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the middle of the last century, it has lost holidaymakers to sunnier destinations. Dwindling numbers of visitors discouraged investment in tourism and hospitality. The pier closed in 2009 because it had been allowed to fall into disrepair though it should be remembered that some new attractions have opened such as the Welsh Mountain Zoo and the Colwyn Leisure Centre in Eirias Park.
Though such developments are welcome it makes sense for Colwyn Bay to broaden its economic base with new businesses in the high tech and creative industries. To encourage the formation, establishment and growth of such businesses, M-SParc will offer at Conway Road all the activities that take place in Gaerwen including Ffiws Maker Space, hot desks, co-working space, business, design, technology and innovation workshops and seminars, as well as science and technology sessions for young people.
The following events take place at 29 Conway Road on the dates and at the times indicated:
- 7 Sept 2021 17:00 - 20:00 Noson Gofod Gwneud - Makerspace Evening
- 21 Sept 2021 19:00 - 20:00 Arwyr Lleol Sgwrs Tech - Local Heroes of Tech Talk
- 23 Sept 2021 13:00 - 13:45 Trefi SMART Towns
- 23 Sept 2021 18:30 - 19:30 Gweithdu FreeCAD Workshop
- 28 Sept 2021 18:00 -19:00 Technocamps - Sesiwn ddigidol i blant / A digital session for children, and
- 29 Sept 2021 16:00 - 17:00 Clwb Sparci - Sbarduno Science Session
Tuesday, 17 August 2021
This year's theme was IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market and the theme park held a very successful webinar on that topic on 26 April 2021 (see Menai Science Park's Contribution to World IP Day 2021 25 April 2021). In that article I wrote:
"If this webinar is successful we hope to hold subsequent ones on scaling up the business covering angel and private equity investment and Stock Exchange flotation later in the year ..."
In view of the webinar's success, Emily Roberts is planning a similar seminar on scaling-up to take place on 11 Nov 2021.
The first seminar focused on the funding that is available for new businesses in Wales during their early years. Many of those businesses will fail but those that survive are likely to enjoy strong demand for their products and services. Some of those businesses will wish to expand their capacity and exploit new opportunities. Such expansion and exploitation will require equity investment. Such investment can be provided by
- wealthy individuals with experience of business and useful connections known as "business angels",
- private equity businesses specializing in investing in fast-growing new companies known as "venture capitalists" and
- the Alternative Investment Market.
As such investors will risk many thousands and sometimes millions of pounds, they will wish to make sure that their investment is secure. They will require due diligence, sound legal agreements and full intellectual property protection. We will arrange for those topics to be covered by an experienced commercial lawyer and a patent and trade mark attorney. Everybody attending the webinar will be given links to further information on scaling-up.
The Eventbrite cared will appear shortly. In the meantime, anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of the topics mentioned in it should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.
Wednesday, 11 August 2021
Geographical Indications: Gower Salt Marsh Lamb - First Product to be registered under the British Scheme
|Gower Meat Selection at a Swansea Restaurant|
By a decision notice dated 23 July 2021 the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has decided to register 'Gower Salt Marsh Lamb’ as a Protected Designation of Origin under the UK quality scheme for protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs. The significance of the decision is that it is the first product to be registered under the British scheme. The application was made on 1 Jan 2021 (the day after the transition or implementation period provided by art 126 of the agreement for British withdrawal from the EU expired) and the product was added to the register today.
In Geographical Indications I wrote:
"Ageographical indication' is defined as a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin (see the "Geographical Indications" page of the WIPO website). The sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production. Examples include 'Scotch' for whisky from Scotland, 'Champagne' for sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France and “Parma” ham for dry-cured ham from the Parma region of Italy."
"The signs used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to their origin are known as geographical indications. They are a type of intellectual asset that the United Kingdom and other parties to the WTO agreement are required to protect by Section 3 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS"). In the United Kingdom, these requirements are satisfied by the law of passing off, the registration of certification and collective marks and sui generis EU intellectual property rights established by Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, p. 1–29."The UK is required to continue to protect protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed by art 54 (2) of the withdrawal agreement. That requirement is implemented by The Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019 No 1366) which amend Regulation 1151/2012. Essentially, the EU legislation as amended by that statutory instrument has been incorporated into the laws of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland by s.3 (1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 with effect from 31 Dec 2020.