Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Innovation for a Stronger, Fairer and Greener Wales

Author User:Gdr Licence CC BY-SA 3.0 Source Wikimedia Commons

Jane Lambert

The Welsh Government published a new innovation strategy yesterday with the objectives of creating better jobs, improved health and care services, a greener environment and a more prosperous nation.  Those are to be achieved through innovation which is defined as "the creation and application of new knowledge to improve the world."  The strategy is to be implemented by an action plan which will be published later.


Education is central to the strategy because "schools, colleges, universities and research organisations create knowledge through research" which can "lead to commercialisation, create societal value, and support a stronger economy."   The new Curriculum for Wales should prepare learners for work in knowledge-based careers and the opportunities and challenges of an ever-changing economy. A new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTEE) should create a more strategic, collaborative, and joined-up education and research sector for universities and colleges.


The mission is "an economy that innovates for growth, collaborates across sectors for solutions to society’s challenges, adopts new technologies for efficiency and productivity, uses resources proportionately, and allows citizens to share wealth through fair work."  The Welsh Government acknowledges that the Welsh economy is integrated into that of the UK and that its innovation strategy must be compatible with the UK one.  However, there is still scope for Welsh initiatives in R&D funding, public sector procurement, small business research, digital and healthcare innovation and Global Wales which will be pursued. A particularly exciting development is a partnership with T-Hub in Hyderabad which is the world's biggest innovation campus. 

Health and Wellbeing

The mission for this sector is a "coherent innovation ecosystem where the health and social care sector collaborates with industry, academia and the third sector to deliver greater value and impact for citizens, the economy, and the environment."  The pandemic occasioned clinicians to develop new ways of delivering health and social care which were discussed in  The NHS Wales COVID-19 Innovation and Transformation Study Report,  The strategy proposes greater alignment of the health and social care innovation ecosystems, coordinating health and social care with the wider economy and community.  Social Care Wales is developing a social care research, innovation and improvement which is set out in A healthier Wales: long term plan for health and social careHealth and social care priorities will dovetail with the initiatives in the economy, education climate and nature.

Climate and Nature

This mission covers meeting Wales's climate change objectives.  Proposals include reducing reliance on fossil fuels, making greater use of renewals, developing new power storage technologies and substituting hydrogen for hydrocarbons.  Existing plans for future gas and electricity networks will be implemented. The adoption of new technologies for heating buildings will be encouraged, particularly retrofitting for older structures. Shared vehicle use will be promoted in order to reduce the need for individual vehicle ownership.  Other initiatives include greater use of recycling of household waste such as using dirty nappies as a road construction material and developing the Welsh timber industry.


In contrast to the UK Innovation Strategy which I reviewed in NIPC Invention on 12 Aug 2021,  the Welsh Innovation Strategy is ambitious but doable.   The UK strategy had the aim of transforming the UK into a science and tech superpower by 2030 - pure boosterism of the kind promoted by the last Prime Minister but one.  As I said in my review:

"the idea that British companies will be competing with the likes of Huawei, Mitsubishi and Samsung in such fields as artificial intelligence, mobile telecoms, consumer electronics or any other new technology is as fanciful as the garden bridge, an airport in the Thames estuary and a bridge to Northern Ireland."

If I have any criticism of the Welsh strategy it is that it bothers to mention the UK Innovation Strategy.  There are lots of good ideas in the Welsh strategy such as the coordination of the education, economy, healthcare and climate and nature missions and the use of universities and other educational institutions as centres of research. 

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

Sunday, 26 February 2023

Negotiating Consultancy and Licensing Agreements with Universities

Author Andrew Woodvine Licence CC BY-SA 2.0 Source Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday I delivered a seminar on intellectual property law to the teams working on research, innovation, commercialization and partnership support for Bangor University.  I wrote about my visit in The Day I went to Bangor in NIPC News on 24 Feb 2023My audience included professionals who negotiate licence and consultancy agreements with third parties.

Licence agreements are made between owners of intellectual property rights and those who wish to use the technology protected by such rights.  Universities acquire considerable technical and scientific knowledge through research carried out by their academics and graduate students much of which can be useful for business. Where such research is protected by patents, unregistered design rights, supplementary unregistered designs, trade secrecy law or other intellectual property rights the university may license businesses and entrepreneurs to use the research.

Consultancy agreements are made between experts and those who wish to use their expertise.  Academics and graduate students often acquire considerable expertise in an area of science or technology through their research.   Businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to use such expertise may contract with the university to consult such an academic or student.  They may ask him or her to design or test something or carry out further sponsored research.

The licensing and consultancy services that are available from Bangor University are indexed on the Business Services page of its website.   These consist of a Collaboration Hub, Intellectual Property (IP) and Commercialization, Conferencing and Business Dining.  The services available from the Collaboration Hub that are most likely to interest businesses include knowledge exchange, collaborative research projects, consultancy and access to the University's facilities.  Those available from Intellectual Property and Commercialization are licensing and spinouts.

Most universities in Wales and indeed the rest of the United Kingdom as well as many more abroad offer similar services to businesses.   When negotiating with them, it is prudent to take the following steps.
  • First, whenever you disclose confidential information to a third party make sure that he or she knows that the information is confidential and that you are confiding it to him or her in circumstances giving rise to an obligation of confidence.   You must set out precisely how the information may be used, who may see it and, in the case of a disclosure of documents when you need them back.   I gave a lot of information about this topic in  Trade Secrets and Non-Disclosure Agreements on 1 April 2018.
  • Secondly, summarize the terms that you and the university may agree subject to contract in a document known as "heads of terms" or "heads of agreement".  Unless you and the university agree otherwise, most if not all the terms should be non-binding.  Even though the instrument should be non-binding it is a good idea for both parties to sign it so that there can be no doubt as to each party's understanding.   There is a good example of such an agreement and some explanatory notes on the Gov.UK website.
  • The sample agreement is one of several that have been drawn up by a committee chaired by Sir Richard Lambert known as the Lambert Toolkit.   I attended and contributed to one of the drafting meetings of that committee.  The core of the toolkit consists of  7 draft agreements which are used by Bangor and many other universities.  Guidance on those draft agreements can be obtained from a "Decision Guide."
  • A licence agreement is likely to be drawn up by one of the parties from scratch.   Tactically it is usually better for the licensee to draft it rather than rely on the university,   A typical licence will include the names and addresses of the parties, recitals on the background to the agreement, the grant, an interpretation clause, a description of rights granted, the territory and the term, the consideration for the licence, remedies for non-payment or delay, the licensor's obligations and the licensee's, provisions for termination, rights on termination, whole agreement, severance and other boilerplate clauses, provision for the service of notices and notifications, choice of law and jurisdiction.    
It is prudent to enlist the help of a lawyer or patent or trade mark attorney for at least some of the stages of the negotiation and drafting.   Such a lawyer can be a barrister specializing in intellectual property and technology law instructed under the public access scheme or a solicitor with expertise in those areas of the law.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or its contents may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form at other times.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Aria Studios - its Importance to Northwest Wales

Author Tim Felce Licence CC BY-SA 2.0  Source Wikimedia Commons


Jane Lambert

Reminiscing about his childhood in  Holyhead, Celyn Jones said that there were very few career opportunities for school leavers.  They could work on the railways or Irish Sea ferries, at an aluminium smelter or at a nuclear power station.  He made those remarks in an interview to celebrate the opening of Aria's impressive new film studios near Llangefni on 26 Jan 2023.  He concluded his interview by remarking that young people in Anglesey now enjoyed the option of "going down the studio."  

As a Cambriophile, his remark resonated with me.  For most of my life, I have witnessed the gradual industrial decline and consequential depopulation of Northwest Wales.  That decline has been arrested by the Menai Science Park at Gaerwen, the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre at Bangor and most recently the Aria Film Studios,  Each of those initiatives has stimulated the launch and growth of new businesses in the creative and science-based industries.  In turn, those businesses have generated many well-paid jobs 

After discussing some of the intellectual property and data protection issues of film-making at the science park earlier in the day, I was invited to Aria's opening ceremony.  My visit began with a tour of the studios.  The TV series Rownd a Rownd is recorded at the studios and visitors were invited to inspect the sets.  The first set that I visited was labelled "Tŷ K" which means "K's house" in Welsh. A lady and gentleman were on the set and after wishing them a "good evening" I enquired who was "K".  The lady introduced herself as the actor who plays K in the TV series. They explained that the series is set in Menai Bridge, a few miles south of Llangefni.

As Rownd a Rownd is a Welsh language show I had been encouraged to watch it by one of my teachers on a Sadwrn Siarad (Saturday conversation) course.  I had actually watched one or two episodes on the BBC iPlayer when my Welsh was a good deal better than it is now. I knew it had a substantial following in Wales as had another longstanding Welsh language TV series, Pobl y Cwm.  I visited several other sets and met other members of the Rownd a Rownd cast.  One of them told me that every aspect of the production was conducted in Welsh including technical matters. Upon my asking about the technical side one of the guides took me to the makeup department.  The lady in charge discussed some of the challenges of her job such as how to replicate with makeup the healing of a scar or or bruise.

Aria has two massive studios and one of them was used for a reception.  A stage had been erected at one end of the studio above which there was a massive screen.  Celyn Jones had been interviewed on that stage. Other guests from Creative Wales, Bangor University and the Welsh film and TV industry delivered speeches from the stage. Recorded messages from the First Minister of Wales, the local MP and other speakers were flashed on the screen.  Nearly all the speeches were delivered in Welsh.  Simultaneous translation was available but I chose not to use it.  This was a rare opportunity for me as a student of Welsh living outside Wales to hear live wall-to-wall Welsh and I did not want to waste it.  I think I got the gist of most of the speeches and conversations but I must have missed some of the content.

One of the characters I have encountered through learning Welsh is Gareth the Orangutan.  My favourite Gareth clip is his drive around Caernarfon with the actor, Owain Arthur.  Mr Arthur had been one of the speakers at the reception and I encountered him just as I was leaving.  I reminded him of his video with Gareth which seemed to amuse him.  He retorted that he was about to try some of the chips which had been provided by the local restaurant chain, Dylans.  The significance of "chips" is that Gareth likes chips though as he explained in another clip about his work experience at a chip shop he can't eat them because they are too hot.  One of the tunes that Gareth and Mr Arthur played and sang along to was Fflipin Lyfio Chips which does not require translation any more than Llareggub.

Aria's collaborators include

  •  Cymru Creadigol (Creative Wales), the Welsh creative industries body 
  • Ffilm Cymru Wales, the national film agency 
  • S4C,  the Welsh language TV channel 
  • Screen Alliance Wales which is concerned with recruitment and training for the film and TV industries, 
  • Rondo the film and TV programme marker, and 
  • the Universities of Bangor and South Wales.  
The websites of those organizations contain a lot of information on the Welsh film industry and the facilities, services and personnel that are available for film and TV makers in Wales.  More is available from Creadigol Cymru's Filming in Wales web page.

As this is an intellectual property publication, it is worth mentioning that films are works in which copyright subsists pursuant to s.1 (1) (b) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  "Film” for this purpose means "a recording on any medium from which a moving image may by any means be produced" (s.5B (1)).   The "author" of a film is its producer and principal director by virtue of s.9 (2) (ab)S.10 (1A) provides that a film shall be treated as a work of joint authorship unless the producer and the principal director are the same person.  Subject to certain exceptions, copyright subsists in a film for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the death occurs of the last to die of the principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue, or the composer of music specially created for and used in the film (S.13B (2)).  Actors' performances whether on a stage or in a studio are also protected from unauthorized filming, taping or broadcasting by a separate intellectual property right known as rights in performances pursuant to Part II of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

There is now a small but growing corps of intellectual property advisors in Northwest Wales,  They include patent and trade mark attorneys such as Sean Thomas, solicitors like Andrea Knox and Johnty Gordon and tax advisors like Steve Livingston.  I support all those professionals and their clients.   Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page

Friday, 27 January 2023

World Intellectual Property Day 2023

Author WIPO Licence CC Attribution 3.0 IGO


Jane Lambert

World Intellectual Property Day is an annual, international festival of creativity and innovation that takes place on or around 26 April to celebrate the anniversary of the coming into force of the treaty that established the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"), the UN agency for intellectual property.   Each year the celebrations focus on a different theme.  This year's theme is "Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity."

The Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") at Gaerwen on Anglesey has celebrated every World IP Day since 2019 with a lunchtime seminar.  These have been Wales's main contribution to the worldwide celebrations.  They have raised awareness of the importance of intellectual property to the businesses and general public in Northwest Wales but also the rapidly growing importance of the region to the Welsh and wider UK economies.   

Nothing underscores the region's importance more than the opening of Aria Film Studios near Llangefni which I shall discuss in a separate article shortly.  Those studios have stimulated demand for creatives and technicians of all kinds prompting imaginative responses from local and national recruitment and training providers.  

It is with those developments in mind that M-SParc has begun to plan this year's World IP Day celebrations.  As in previous years, the project will be led by Emily Roberts with the assistance of Charlie Jones.   The centrepiece will be a hybrid in-person and online seminar for which we hope to use the Haia platform.  The main speakers will be women inventors and creatives from M-SParc's tenant companies plus at least one IP professional.   As we have a little more time to plan this year we hope to encourage some of the organizations based at M-SParc and in the region to stage their own celebrations. 

Anyone wishing to discuss this article is welcome to call me at +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form at any other time. 

Monday, 19 December 2022

New Year, New Beginnings

Fireworks at Midnight on New Year's Day
Author Clarence Ji Licence CC BY 2.0  Source Wikimedia Commons


The New Year is an opportunity for the formation of new businesses, the launch of new products and services, the opening of new business premises and all sorts of other new business initiatives.   There will be a business plan for most of those initiatives but many of those business plans will lack an important component.

That missing component will be intellectual property and the reason why it is important is that it protects your investment in branding, design, technology and creativity.  Without such protection, it will be so much easier for competitors who have not spent time and money on research, development or marketing to filch your business.

The way to prevent that from happening is to identify the advantages that attract customers to your business. It may be your reputation in the marketplace, the look of your products or the way they work or are made.  You may need an IP audit to identify those advantages (see How to use an IP Audit 19 Jan 2022 NIPC News).  Once you have identified what attracts customers to your business you must choose the optimum protection.   That is not necessarily the most expensive.  A patent will give you extensive protection for up to 20 years but if the invention is likely to become obsolete in a year or two you may prefer to rely on trade secrecy or unregistered design right.

Whatever intellectual property right you choose to protect your asset you must be prepared to pursue infringers and defend challenges to your rights. Infringement, invalidity and revocation proceedings take place in the High Court.   Unless the claim is for £10,000 or less and does not involve patents, registered designs, semiconductor topographies or plant varieties it must be brought in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court where recoverable costs are limited to £80,000 or the Patents Court or Intellectual Property list where such costs are unlimited.   The only way that most small businesses can afford such costs is by taking our specialist IP insurance (see the IPO's Guidance on IP Insurance on the government website).

Unless you are confident that you can raise several hundred thousand pounds at short notice, IP insurance is not a nice-to-have extra but as much a necessity as your staff, plant and premises.   Just as you make provision for recruitment, rent and equipment leases or acquisition in your business plan you must do the same for your IP rights and their legal protection and enforcement.   In an extreme case, failure to do so could threaten the existence of your company.

If you are about to undertake a new venture in the New Year I wish you every success.  If you have questions or concerns feel free to contact me at 020 7404 5252 during normal business hours.  Alternatively, you can send me a message through my contact form at any time. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Wales Enterprise Day 2022: Intellectual Property Rights outside the UK


Jane Lambert

Wales Enterprise Day celebrates business expansion.  Last year's theme was start-ups becoming scale-ups.  This year's is about obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights abroad.  Businesses that export, license, manufacture or market their goods and services abroad need to make sure that their brands, designs, technology and creativity are protected outside the United Kingdom and that they have the means to enforce such protection in foreign courts and tribunals.

I discussed those topics in Protecting Intellectual Assets Abroad on 6 Oct 2022 in IP after Brexit and in Protecting your Brands, Designs and Technology Abroad on 21 Oct 2022 in this publication. Essentially a business should seek legal protection for those assets in its markets and in the jurisdictions in which its actual or potential competitors are to be found.  That is where a lot of mistakes are made and money is wasted.   For instance, many SMEs arrange for their product to be manufactured in China or some other country for distribution in the UK without first obtaining industrial design, patent or trade mark protection in that country, They then wonder why lookalikes flood their export and sometimes even their home markets.

To help businesses to avoid those mistakes I shall chair a hybrid in-person and online seminar on Protecting your Brands, Designs, Technology and Creativity at the Menai Science Park (M-SParc) on 18 November 2022 between 12:15 and 14:00.   To protect those assets businesses need to put the following arrangements into place:

  • Legal protection in the form of patents, copyrights, trade marks, registered designs and other intellectual property rights in each of their foreign markets and the countries where their competitors are to be found;
  • Local teams of lawyers and patent and trade mark attorneys to enforce such protection; and
  • Adequate funding for enforcing such protection.
M-SParc has gathered experts in each of those fields to speak on those topics.

The most important markets are the European Union, the United States and China.  Sean Thomas of Thomas Harrison IP will explain how to apply for patents whether directly or through the European Patent Convention or the Patent Cooperation Treaty.   He will discuss trade mark registration through the Madrid Protocol and design registrations through the Hague Agreement.  He will address such issues as how much a typical application will cost and how long it will take.  He has a lot of experience in registering and enforcing IP rights in China and the United States and will pass on some valuable tips.

When the UK was in the EU, the judgments of its courts could be enforced throughout the Union, EU trade marks and registered Community designs applied to the UK and they did to the other member states and London was to host one of the Central Divisions of the Unified Patent Court.  All that ended at 23:00 on 31 Dec 2020 when the implementation period provided by the EU withdrawal agreement expired.  Businesses in the UK that hold EU trade marks, registered Community designs or unitary patents have to bring proceedings in an EU member state.

Happily, a short ferry trip from Hollyhead lies an English-speaking common-law country that remains within the European Union,  Its courts can try EU trade mark, registered Community design and plant variety disputes.  Its counsel and solicitors can appear before the Unified Patent Court.  The Brussels Regulation continues to apply to the Irish Republic.

I have asked my friend and colleague James Bridgeman SC to speak on how the Irish legal profession can help UK businesses enforce their intellectual property rights.  James holds an appointment that is equivalent to King's Counsel in the United Kingdom.  He appeared in one of the leading cases on rights in performances before the Court of Justice of the European Union.  Before he was called to the Bar he practised as a trade mark attorney.   As a Past-President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, he can suggest strategies in which the rights of British businesses can be enforced through international arbitration.

International IP litigation does not come cheap but, fortunately, it is possible to obtain insurance against such expenses.   M-SParc will welcome back Ian Wishart a director of Sybaris Special Risks whose company specializes in IP insurance. He has already spoken at M-SParc on litigation insurance for the UK.   On Friday he will discuss policies for the EU, USA, China and elsewhere,  In countries such as the USA where contingency fees are possible litigation funding is an alternative to IP insurance.   Sybaris talks to investors in litigation funding.  If there is time, Ian will say a few words about that market,

This will be a fascinating session.   Readers can register through this link.  Anyone wishing to discuss this topic can call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page.

Friday, 11 November 2022

North Wales Creative meets Creative Wales

Author Tanya Dedyukhina Licence  CC BY 3.0  Source Wikimedia Commons


On 9 Nov 2022, I attended a meeting of Creative North Wales (Gogledd Creadigol) at the Galeri arts centre in Caernarfon.  That was not my first encounter with Creative North Wales.  I wrote about them in Gogledd Creadigol on 11 May 2021 after I had given a talk to their members on Copyright Licensing and Information and Communications Technology on 21 April 2021 (see Jane Lambert Copyright Licensing and Information and Communications Technology 13 April 2021).

The evening began with an introduction to the executive and prominent members and a review of their recent activities.  One of those was a webinar entitled Powering up the Video Games Industry which took place just before my talk.  The keynote speaker at that webinar was Dr Davd Banner MBE who is founder and CEO of Wales Interactive.  David attended Wednesday's meeting and I was delighted to meet him in the flesh. He told me that he had been in the games industry since the 1990s and we remarked on the growth of the industry over the years.

David is also a non-executive board member of Creative Wales (Cymru Creadigol) and the purpose of the meeting was to introduce that organization and its leaders to stakeholders in the creative industries in Northwest Wales.  Gerwyn Evans, deputy director of Creative Wales delivered a short presentation on its work.  He began by stating that Creative Wales had a narrower remit than the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in that it did not cover such fields as architecture.  It occurred to me as he said those words that the United Kingdom equivalent to Creative Wales was the Creative Industries Council ("CIC") which is chaired by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  Architecture is indeed within the CIC's remit as well as advertising,, arts and culture and fashion which are outside Creative Wales's.

Creative Wales does, however, cover a lot:
  • film and television
  • music
  • games
  • animation
  • createch
  • R & D, and
  • publishing.
The deputy director mentioned each of those sectors in turn and discussed its importance to the Welsh economy and the support that it received from Creative Wales.

A surprising omission in view of the importance of such composers as Catrin Finch and Jack White, dance companies like Ballet Cymru and the National Dance Company of Wales and the National Eisteddfod is the exclusion of the performing arts.   According to Creative Wales's website:
"Fine art, dance, theatre and poetry fall outside of our remit. Don’t worry, they’re not forgotten. Other organisations, such as the Arts Council of Wales take care of these essential and thriving areas of creativity."

Other parts of the UK also have an Arts Council but the arts in those other nations and regions are still represented on the CIC. 

As an intellectual property specialist, I am particularly interested in the digital industries and I was fortunate to meet Paul Osbaldeston, the digital lead sector development manager.   Our meeting was brief but it is good to put a face to a name should we come into contact again.

Finally, I was delighted to see a strong representation from the Menai Science Park which included its managing director, Pryderi ap Rhisiart,. its outreach and community manager  Emily Roberts who has recently visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tanya Jones who kindly invited me to the event.  The science park and North Wales Creative complement each other in that the park catalyses business opportunities while the cultural industries feed the mind and soul.   Both are essential to making this region of Wales one of the most attractive places anywhere in which to work and live.

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