Monday, 17 May 2021

Supporting Innovation and Creativity in North Wales

Jane Lambert

 








I have just started a new LinkedIn group called "ERGC/NWIP". "EDGC" is short for "Eiddo Deallusol Gogledd Cymru" which means "North Wales Intellectual Property".  I shall not insult readers' intelligence by telling them what the letters "NWIP" stand for. This new LinkedIn group is intended to be a forum and resource for everyone who is interested in innovation and creativity in North Wales in any capacity.  

Both the name of the group and its logo are provisional.  I am no graphic designer or branding expert. If anybody has a better idea for a name or logo I am open to suggestions.  I took the photo of the countryside near Caernarfon from the castle battlements under a lowering sky on a typical August day.  

The idea of a LinkedIn group is not mine but Sean Thomas's.  Sean is a patent attorney and inventor who was born and brought up on Anglesey and holds a degree from Bangor University.   He suggested the group at a seminar at the Menai Science Park which I chaired on 20 Sept 2019 (see Building an Enterprise Ecosystem on Anglesey 25 Sept 2019).

I was prompted to set up this group by an enquiry about trade marks from a company that already knew a lot about intellectual property,  It had previously instructed a patent attorney who used to practise in North Wales but has now retired to Scotland.  I also saw a report in the North Wales Chronicle about an project that combines artificial intelligence with drone technology that reminded me of the Welsh aviation pioneer William Frost who filed his own patent for a flying machine that he had invented in 1894 (see In William Frost's Footsteps 15 May 2021 LinkedIn and Patent Design and Trade Mark Filings in Wales  28 Nov 2019).  

The thought that crossed my mind was whether Frost would be able to access specialist IP advice if he were alive now.   He lived at Saundersfoot which is over 90 miles from Cardiff and Newport where most of the expertise in Wales on IP is concentrated.  Not a lot has changed in that regard since 1894.   

A LinkedIn group could help.  It is a great place for making contact with folk with skills and connections that you need. It is also a great place for gathering resources.  Every time I publish an article, deliver a presentation or even see an article that could be of value to knowledge-based businesses in North Wales I shall mention it to the group and encourage others to do the same.  At present most of those articles will be in English because I started learning Welsh from an online course only last summer.  I shall try to contribute in Welsh as well as English as I master that language. 

Anyone seeking more information about the group can visit it at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9060289/, I shall gladly answer enquiries through LinkedIn or by phone on 020 7404 5252 during normal office hours.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Gogledd Creadigol

Caernarfon from the Castle Battlements
© 2018 Jane Lambert: all rights reserved 

 














Jane Lambert

Last month I was privileged to take part in a short webinar organized by Gogledd Creadigol (Creative North Wales) on Copyright Licensing and ICT.  Gogledd Creadigol describes itself as a voice for the digital creative industries of North Wales at the centre of "the creative corridor from Dublin, through north Wales to the Northern Powerhouse region."

The strength and diversity of the creative sector are recorded in the 2018 North Wales Creative Audit.  The region's assets include the University of Bangor with its Applied Design Centre. Wrexham Glyndwr University with its Creative Arts Research Centre, the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre with its FabLab and Bryn Terfel Theatre and the Menai Science Park which hosts Ffiws and works closely with Gogledd Creadigol.  According to Gogledd Creadigol's home page, there are over 1,100 businesses in the sector in North Wales which has helped to create 10,800 jobs paying an average of £711 each week.

Gogledd Creadigol works with Bangor and Wrexham Glyndwr Universities, the North Wales Economic Ambition Board and North Wales Business Council, the BBC and S4C, CREAD, RONDO and many other arts and business institutions.   In addition to my contribution, it has held several very successful event including Powering Up the Games Sector which I attended and thoroughly enjoyed.  Details of those events appear in the News section.

My contact at Gogledd Creadigol is Sofie Roberts of the Menai Science Park who can be contacted through its website and Linkedin.  Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the creative industries generally may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Menai Science Park's Contribution to World IP Day 2021

Author  Jonathan Calugi  © 2021 WIPO, all rights reserved Licensed courtesy WIPO



 Jane Lambert

For the last 2 years, the Menai Science Park has hosted Wales's main contribution to World Intellectual Property Day (see World IP Day 2021: "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market" 21 Jan 2021). Emily Roberts and I have been discussing this year's contribution since Autumn and we hope it will be the best ever.

Each year, World IP Day has a different theme.  The theme for 2021 is IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market. It could not be more appropriate for the Menai Science Park because that is what it does all through the year.  Making full use of the park's expertise and that of its tenants, Emily had invited a panel of world-class experts to discuss this year's theme in an online webinar starting at 12:10 and ending at 13:50 tomorrow.

The speakers will be 


Time

Speaker

Topic

12:10- 12:15

Jane Lambert
Barrister

4-5 Gray’s Inn Square

Introduction and Welcome - Cyflwyniad a Chroeso


12:15- 12:30

Andrew Davies Intellectual Property Office

IP and Funding for Growth

12:30 -12:45

David Wooldridge
Welsh Government Innovation Team

Welsh Government Assistance for Startups and SME

12:45-13:00

Alison Orr
Inngot

Valuing startups; intellectual assets

13:00 -13:15

Mark McGowan
BIC Innovation

Arranging funding for startups

13:15- 13:30

Andrea Knox
Knox Commercial Solicitors

Due Diligence and shareholders agreements`

13:30 -13:45

Steve Livingston
IP Tax Solutions

Tax incentives for startups and SMR

13:45 -13:50

Jane Lambert

Thanks and Closing Remarks - 


If you would like to attend this event, please register here.

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 possibly in cooperation with a Wales law and innovation network on the lines of the Scottish Law and Innovation Network (see Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network? 14 April 2021),

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of the topics arising from it may call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Wales Law and Innovation Network

Llewellyn the Great

























Jane Lambert

On 14 April 2021, I asked: "Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network?"  The answer was a deafening yes for all the reasons set out in my article and more. However, as I also said in my article, such a network will not come into existence of its own accord.   We need an initial event to launch it.

As it happens, an important anniversary is coming up.  On 15 June 1215, Prince Llewellyn the Great extracted important concessions for the governance of Wales from King John of England.  I can think of no better way to celebrate that event than by holding the first meeting of the Welsh La\w and Innovation Network.

The event will take place online.  It will begin at 16:30 with a talk from me on Welsh geographical indications after Brexit and finish with a short business meeting at which I hope we shall secure general support for the project and some volunteers to prepare proposals for its mission, governance, funding and initial activities.   We aim to finish by 18:00.   If you want to attend you can sign up here

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

Monday, 19 April 2021

Copyright Licensing and Information and Communications Technology


 














I am delighted to have been invited to contribute to a short webinar on Copyright Licensing and ICT hosted by Creative North Wales and North Wales Tech on Wednesday 21 April 2021 between 15:30 and 16:00.  The other contributor will be Carwyn Edwards of North Wales Tech, He is a systems architect and software engineer.

Copyright is defined by s.1 (1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 as 
"a property right which subsists in accordance with this Part in the following descriptions of work-- 
(a) original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, 
(b) sound recordings, films or broadcasts, and 
(c) the typographical arrangement of published editions."
Unlike a patent, trade mark or design there is no need to register a copyright with the Intellectual Property Office or any other government department.  The only conditions for the subsistence of the right are that it should be created by a citizen or resident of the United Kingdom or some other state with which the government has concluded an agreement to protect the works of British nationals. Since most countries of the world are party to the Berne or Universal Copyright Conventions, that is pretty much everyone.  By virtue of those Conventions the books, broadcasts, buildings, choreography, compositions, computer programs, films, plays and sound recordings of British artists, authors and publishers are protected automatically everywhere,

Those rights last a very long time.  In the case of an artistic dramatic, literary or musical work copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years.  Thus, copyright still subsists in the wedding photo of Dylan Thomas taken in 1937. It came as a nasty surprise to the owner of a website advertising holiday cottages in Southwest Wales who had used the photo to underscore the region's associations with that great literary figure  (see Pablo Star Media Ltd v Bowen [2017] EWHC 2541 (IPEC) (13 October 2017)).

The consequences for infringing copyright can be draconian.  In addition to compensatory damages for the depreciation of the value of the copyright as a thing in action, a court can award additional damages under s.97 (2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 where the justice of the case so requires or art 13 of the enforcement directive (Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights),.  In some circumstances, an infringement of copyright can be a criminal offence carrying heavy prison sentences and unlimited fines.  Even that is not the end of the story because the photo of Dylan Thomas was protected in the Republic of Ireland by Irish copyright law and in the USA by the Copyright Act of 1976  The unfortunate holiday cottage website owner faced demands for massive statutory damages that are available in those countries.

Most of the creative industries, artists and their publishers regard copyright as a very good thing.  Many of them have established organizations known as collecting societies that sell licences for the performance or other use of their members' works.  Pubs, caf├ęs, restaurants, retailers and other businesses that pipe muzak to the public often display decals with the initials "PRS" which shows that they have been licensed by the Performing Right Society and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society to play such music. Most of those organizations have agreements with collecting societies in other countries so the works of British artists and publishers are protected around the world and those of other countries are protected here.   Failure to obtain such licences and pay the licence fee can lead to litigation or worse.

In contrast to other creative industries, there has been a measure of ambivalence towards copyright and other intellectual property rights in the computer industry.  While many have been quick enough to asset their rights, others regard it as an unwelcome interference with their work.  

Until the early 1980s, nobody paid much attention to intellectual property in software because there was no way of copying software. In the very early days of computing, software was bundled with hardware. Even after unbundling software was recorded on very bulky media such as punch cards or later heavy magnetic drums the size and shape of fruitcakes. Programmers tended to share handy little programs for calculating dates and similar tasks.  That was the original meaning of "freeware" and it was an issue in Ibcos Computers Ltd v Barclays Mercantile Highland Finance Ltd and others  [1994] FSR 275 as late as the early 1990s.

The coming of personal computers in the early 1980s  changed all that.  Applications could be distributed on floppy discs or even online.  There was for a time some doubt as to whether copyright could protect software but the Copyright (Computer Software) Amendment Act  1985 settled such uncertainty in the UK.   As a result of this legislation and advances in technology informal collaboration between programmers was no longer possible.  

It was in response to such challenges that the Free Software Foundatiion was established in the early 1980s. It promoted mass collaborations such as the GNU project that enables users to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve their software.  The Foundation was joined by the Copyleft movement from which Prof Lawrence Lessing established Creative Commons.  In the last 20 years, there have been many other projects that have enabled copyright materials to be made available to the public free of charge. Some are operated by national governments such as Open Government licence in the UK.

Carwyn and I have only 15 minutes each on Wednesday, .  I shall stick to the legal issues and Carwyn to the technical ones.  That is not enough time to explore the topic in any depth but if the talk goes well we may hold another longer one with experts from the industry and academia.

Anyone wanting to sign up for the talk should register here.  Those wishing to discuss this article or its contents should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network?

Menai Science Park
☺ 2018 Jane Lambert: all rights reserved




Earlier this month I discussed the Scottish Law and Innovation Network ("SCOTLIN") which describes itself as "a Scotland-focused collaboration and knowledge exchange hub that promotes impactful research, excellence in teaching, and societally beneficial law and policy innovations" (see Jane Lambert Scottish Law and Innovation Network 3 April 2021 NIPC Law).  It is a project in which all Scottish universities and some practitioners participate.

The project has been launched shortly before elections to the Scottish Parliament in which a second independence referendum is an issue.   As I said in my article, very little was said about innovation policy in Scotland's Future, the independence white paper, even though it would have been crucially important.  With the establishment of SCOTLIN, there is the [possibility for both sides in the coming independence debate to be better informed.  Also, intellectual property should gain a higher profile in both law schools and science and engineering faculties of Scottish universities regardless of the outcome of any future independence referendum. 

Although the issues in the Senedd elections are different, the need for a law and innovation network in Wales is at least as great.  As I argued in A Separate Welsh Legal Jurisdiction on 20 Feb 2021,  legislation enabling the Senedd to enact primary legislation necessitates a separate court system along the lines of the arrangements for Scotland and Northern Ireland.  That is as much in the interests of businesses and individuals in England as it is for those in Wales.  A separate Welsh court system will have to deal with specialist matters such as intellectual property that are currently resolved in London.  A Welsh law and information network could play a useful role in training practitioners and judiciary as well as practical matters such as raising awareness of the importance of intellectual property among businesses and the general public in Wales.

Whether Wales remains in or secedes from the Union, its prosperity depends on the creation of knowledge-based businesses such as those in the Menai Science Park, Aberinnovation and elsewhere. Those businesses are helping to reverse decades of economic decline and depopulation in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet.  They require access to specialist advice, forums for the resolution of disputes, angel and private equity funding and other services close at hand.  A law and innovation network could catalyze those developments.

A Welsh law and innovation network will not just happen.  It needs something to gather potential participants together.  Maybe that something will be the Menai Science Park's contribution to World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April (see World IP Day 2021: "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market"  21 Jan 2021). We have gathered experts from the Intellectual Property Office, the Welsh government, Inngot, BIC Innovation, Knox Commercial Solicitors and IP Tax Solutions to speak on the day's themes "Taking your Ideas to Market",   We shall keep with that panel after the webinar and expand it until it becomes a law and innovation network for Wales.  Probably we need to adopt another name because neither "Wales Law and Innovation Network" nor "Rhwydwaith Cyfraith ac Arloesi Cymru" condenses into a memorable acronym like SCOTLIN. To help us clear the ground I have a presentation on geographical indications in Wales that I should be glad to deliver (see Jane Lambert The New Protected Food Names Scheme as it will apply in Wales 25 Oct 2020).

Anyone wishing to discuss the proposal further is welcome to call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Big Ideas Wales- Understanding IP

 Contains public sector information licensed under the OG Licence v3.0.

 








Jane Lambert

Yesterday I attended a webinar given by the Intellectual Property Office to Big Ideas Wales entitled Understanding IP.  It consisted of a presentation given by Nich Chard, one of the business engagement officers at the Intellectual Property Office and a Q&A at which Nick and Emma Richards, Business outreach manager at the Office, answered questions from members of the audience.  It was advertised to begin at 17:30 and end at 18:00 but there were so many questions that it continued until 18:15. According to Nick, there were about 20 individuals on the call including him and Emma.

I attended the webinar because I have given a lot of talks on IP and held a lot of clinics across Wales mainly at the Menai Science Park on Anglesey but also at Parc Menai near Bangor, Aberystwyth University, the Beacon Centre at Llanelli and Glyndwr University at Wrexham.  I do that work because IP is essential to securing investment in branding, design, technology and creativity.  Such specialist advisory services as Wales enjoys are concentrated around Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.  If Wales is to attract investment to establish new knowledge-based industries to reverse the decline of so many of its industries and depopulation of its rural communities that have occurred during my lifetime it must protect such intellectual assets.

On its "About" page, Business Wales states that it "is here to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in Wales and encourage young people under 25 to develop enterprise skills whatever the career choice." its website provides an introduction to business for younger audiences and makes the right links to business.wales.gov.uk to help build knowledge of business; with tools, information and help for those who want to start a business.  Big Ideas Wales endeavours to help those under 25:

  • "Get some inspiration about what you might want to do in the future
  • Find out a what it’s like to start your own business
  • Hear from other entrepreneurs in Wales (who share their stories and top tips!)
  • Discover more about yourself with useful guides and self assessments
  • Help you generate ideas and think them through
  • Get involved in enterprise and take advantage of opportunities and workshops
  • Learn about key business topics and links to improve your knowledge
  • Find out what’s happening in your college or university and how to get involved!
  • Find out what “business support” is all about and who might help
  • Join like minded young people on our social media channels Facebook,Twitter and Instagram."

There is certainly a fair amount of information on the Big Ideas site including some guidance on intellectual property on "How to pick a business idea page". 

Nick's presentation covered trade marks, copyrights, design registration, patents and confident all within half an hour.  Clearly, he couldn't cover everything in that time and he did very well to cover as much as he did. While he was talking members of the audience were asking questions in the chat channel which Emma did her best to answer.  On certain aspects of trade mark law, Nick went into quite a lot of detail. However, one matter that could have been emphasized is that with a few exceptions IP rights have to be enforced by the owner in the civil courts and that can be both risky and expensive.  Whenever I give a similar talk I stress the need for adequate funding of enforcement which usually means specialist IP insurance since most legal indemnity policies specifically exclude IP.

Although they are concentrated in the Southeast corner of Wales, the country has some valuable resources. In addition to the Intellectual Property Office at Newport and the Business and Property Courts in Cardiff, there is Inngot IP at Swansea which superseded IP Wales, one of the most useful websites on IP in the UK.  Both initiatives were launched when the present Principal of Bangor University held the Hodge chair of law at Swansea. 

Since it opened in 2018, the Menai Science Park has hosted a lot of talks and other events on IP. It has reached out to neighbouring centres of excellence such as Bangor Law School and the Pontio Centre. It has offered the most ambitious contribution from Wales to World Intellectual Property Day.  It plans the best ever webinar on "IP for Funding and Growth" between 12:30 and 14:00 on World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April 2021 with speakers from the Intellectual Property Office, the Welsh Government, Inngot, BIC Innovation, Knox Commercial Solicitors and IP Tax Solutions.  It hopes to follow that up with another seminar later in the year - with any luck in its boardroom or training room - on "IP for Scale-Up" with speakers from the nearest business angels networks and private equity investors.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of the topics mentioned should contact me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page.