Sunday, 5 September 2021

Making SParcs Fly

Colwyn Bay
Author Dot Potter Licence CC BY-SA 2.0 Source Wikimedia Commons


 









Jane Lambert

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:

I have a personal interest in the Ffiws events because I had the pleasure of addressing its members on 15 April 2020. I had intended to give the talk in Porthmadog in person but was prevented from visiting Wales by the pandemic. However, I presented the talk over Zoom and my slides can be downloaded here,

Gogledd Creadigol is the forum for the creative industries in North Wales. On 15 Sept 2021, it will host an event called Cocktails and Creativity which will take place at M-SParc and online. One of the guests is Elin Fflur about whom I knew nothing until I started to learn Welsh just over a year ago.  As I suspect that many others in the English speaking world have yet to be introduced to her, I urge them to listen to her sing Ar Lan y Môr ("By the Sea Shore") with Max Boyce.  She is good as are a whole galaxy of singers, musicians, film and programme-makers and even a chip munching talking orangutan - all of whom I have discovered through learning Welsh.  Other guests will include Stifyn Parri, Osian Gwynn, art director of the Pontio Arts Centre and guests from the TV series Rownd a Rownd.

Crucial to the success of all businesses - but particularly those in the high tech and creative industries - is the legal protection of their investment in branding, design, technology and creativity. Guests from the Intellectual Property Office, the Welsh Government, Inngot and BIC Innovation stressed its importance for startups on World Intellectual Prop[erty Day (see Menai Science Park's Contribution to World IP Day 2021 25 April 2021).  It is even more important for businesses seeking angel or private equity investment or flotation on the Alternative Investment Market as attendees will hear at our in-person and live-streamed webinar  IP & SME - Scaling Up on 11 Nov 2021.

In the meantime, readers are reminded that choosing the optimum legal protection for their brands, designs, technology and creativity, for the time being, can make all the difference between business failure and a howling success.   They will find guidance in Choosing the Right IP Protection which I posted on 24 April 2019.  If they want to discuss this matter further, they can book a free 30-minute appointment over Zoom by completing this simple form.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

IP & SME - Scaling-Up

Stock Exchange
Author Gren  Licence Public Domain  Source Wikimedia Commons





















On 26 April of every year, a worldwide festival of creativity and innovation takes place to celebrate the anniversary of the implementation of the convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. For the last three years, the Menai Science Park has contributed to the festival by holding a seminar on its annual theme.

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 

Emily and I will invite an angel, venture capitalist and NOMAD (nominated advisor) to speak at the seminar.

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
Author Vouliagmeni Licence Public Domain Source Wikipedia Commons

 










Jane Lambert

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."

In The New Protected Food Names Scheme as it will apply in Wales I added:

"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.    

I discussed the UK scheme in Geographical Indications in the UK after 31 Dec 2020 in NIPC Law on 30 Sept 2020.   I considered how the new British scheme would apply in Wales in The New Protected Food Names Scheme as it will apply in Wales on 26 Oct 2020 in NIPC Wales.   I explained the way in which the EU legislation had been amended and incorporated into domestic law in How Brexit has changed IP Law in NIPC Brexit on 17 Jan 2021 and in my presentation and handout IP after Brexit on 26 Jan 2021.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published a full product specification for Gower salt marsh lamb.  It identifies the applicant for registration, the product's name and description, its geographical area, proof of origin, method of production and link with the area.  The City and County of Swansea will be the inspection body for the product. 

Gower salt marsh lamb is not the only famous product from the area.  The Gower peninsula is an important gastronomic region of the British isles.  It is also famous for its beef, game, fruit, vegetables, seafood and many other products.  A distinctive local speciality is laverbread made from seaweed.  Further information on the area's foods can be obtained from the Wikipedia article Cuisine of Gower.

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

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Website Access Terms and Privacy Statements - Something that every Website should have















When I talk to business owners in Wales (or indeed anywhere else for that matter) there is usually at least one who wants to talk about terms and conditions.  Usually, he or she wants to talk about conditions of sale or service.  Sometimes about procurement and purchase.  If a website is to be used in business, then it should display the terms upon which goods are to be traded.  I discussed what they should be in "All At Sea!" - Terms and Conditions of Business on 15 April 2019. But in addition, it should also have website access terms ("WAT") and a privacy statement and so too should every other website,

What's WAT
A WAT is essentially a licence.  In order to visit a website, an internet user has to run the digital code that represents text, images, sounds, animations and other content through a browser and that involves reproduction.  The noughts and one that the browser converts into screen and speaker output are literary works within the meaning of s.3 (1) of the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988.  Reproducing a copyright work is an act restricted by s.16 (1) (a) of the same Act.   It can only be done lawfully with the consent of the copyright owner.  The WAT are the terms upon which the terms on which the owner of the copyright in the website content gives his or her consent.

The Terms
The terms of the WAT will depend on the needs of the business owner but a typical licence might include:
  • a description of the licence
  • an acknowledgement of the owner's intellectual property rights
  • undertakings not to do certain acts such as downloading copyright work or deep linking
  • disclaimers of certain types of liability in so far as may be permitted by the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and other legislation
  • reservations of the right to vary the terms
  • clauses severing any void or unenforceable provisions
  • choice of law. and
  • choice of jurisdiction.

The Licence Description
The most important part of the WAT is the licence which will look something like this:
"(1)     Access to this website requires the reproduction of copyright material which can be done lawfully only with the licence of XYZ Ltd a private company incorporated in Wales with limited liability under company number,,,,,,,,,,,,,, the registered office of which is at  .........................  ("the Company").
(2)    The Company grants such licence only on the following terms.
(3)    If you do not accept these terms you may not visit this site and must leave immediately."
In the "choice of law" clause you will provide that the terms are to be construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of Wales and England.   In the choice of jurisdiction clause, you will require the internet user to submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of Wales and England.  You can even specify that the user will not object to the issue of proceedings out of the Chancery District Registries of Caernarfon, Cardiff or Mold.

Privacy Statement 
This is not a contract but a statement of policy.   It essentially tells visitors what data will be collected, how it will be used and how and where to obtain further information, request access to personal data under the provisions of the Data Protection Acy 2018 and lodge objections.   As several provisions of the Act require the informed consent of the data subject it is important that it is full and accurate.   It does not have to be drawn up by a lawyer but it should be checked by one,   I have a specialist blog on data protection at http://nipcdp.blogspot.com/ which contains articles on the Act and General Data Protection Regulation. 

Language
If you translate the WAT or privacy statement into Welsh, make sure that it is done or at least checked by a Welsh-speaking lawyer.   Remember that the WAT and statement will be available in the rest of the world so there should be at least one version in English.

Further Information
Anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of the topics mentioned in it may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form. 

Friday, 9 July 2021

Culture and Trade Marks

Author WaynaQhapaq  Public Domain Wikipedia Commons  

Jane Lambert

Yoruba is a language spoken by a large number of people in Nigeria and neighbouring states of West Africa.  It is also the collective name of the people who speak that language.  Between the 13th and 15th centuries, it was the home of a brilliant civilization centred on Ife that produced art of exceptional beauty an example of which appears in the photo above.

When it was discovered that an English company called Timbuktu Ltd, had registered the word YORUBA as a trade mark for a wide range of goods and services there was an outcry on Twitter.  Many people of Yoruba heritage and others were hurt and I commented on their reaction in Traditional Knowledge and Trade Marks in NIPC News on 30 May 2021.  A few days later the Intellectual Property Law Association of Nigeria invited me to speak at a webinar on the topic that they had organized on 2 Jan 2021 and I prepared The UK YORUBA Trade Mark presentation for the discussion.

Although the issues were different I was reminded of the Yoruba controversy when I read that the Welsh Language Commissioner had criticized the Intellectual Property Office for registering SNOWDONIA as a trade mark for a large English clothing retailer but not registering ERYRI for a small Welsh clothing manufacturer (see Language commissioner criticises decision to not grant Welsh trademark 7 July 2021 Nation Cymru).  The story was also pointed out to me at different times by two individuals who are prominent in Welsh economic development who could not be described as partisan or reactionary but I detected the same hurt in Wales as there had been in Nigeria.

I was asked for an explanation which I can't give as I am not privy to the discussions between any of the parties to the dispute and the Intellectual Property Office but I can state the law.   One of the grounds upon which a trade mark can be refused registration under the Trade Marks Act 1994 is that it consists exclusively of signs or indications which may serve, in trade, to designate the geographical origin of goods or services (see s.3 (1) (c)).   That may have been the ground upon which the Welsh clothing company was refused registration.  However, that prohibition is not absolute.   There is a proviso that a trade mark shall not be refused registration by virtue of paragraph (c) above if, before the date of application for registration, it had in fact acquired a distinctive character as a result of the use made of it.  

I made a search of SNOWDONIA on the Trade Mark Registry website and found a very large number of registrations ranging from "Rubber Boots" by J.D. Williams & Company Limited from 8 April 1954 under trade mark number UK729050 to ice cream by Loseley (Manufacturing) Limited from 9 Oct 1998 under trade mark number UK2179272. Both J D Williams and Loseley are big companies that advertise their goods extensively so I guess that they would have persuaded the examiner that they fell within the proviso. 

I also made a search of ERYRI and found that the word had been registered in combination with other words or devices ranging from Hafod Eryri for education and exhibition services all relating to National Parks cultural activities and the provision of food and drink and temporary accommodation by the Snowdonia National Park Authority to Eryri Snowdonia Gin.

In both Nigeria and Wales, it was felt that the law ought to be changed. Many in Nigeria and elsewhere have expressed the view that nobody should be allowed to register the name of a people, language and proud and ancient civilization as a trade mark. That would probably require a diplomatic conference. In Wales, there has been a drive to dispense with English names for Welsh geographical features even when they are over 1,000 years old. The registration of Snowdonia but not of Eryri has been seen by many as a gratuitous slight. While that is unlikely to have been the IPO's intention it is a sentiment of which legislators should take note. It is a topic that a Welsh law and innovation network could usefully consider.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me during office hours on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

"Where the Coffee is strong, and the Company has the Sparc"



 







Jane Lambert


On Wednesday, Pryderi ap Rhisiart, the managing director of M-SParc (the Menai Science Park) posted the following message to Linkedin:
"Gwerth Cymuned // Value of Community
Braf cael brecwast gyda’n tenantiaid am y tro cyntaf ers dros flwyddyn a diolch iddynt am gefnogi a chreu cymuned yn M-SParc. Rhaid dweud mod i wedi colli hyn yn fawr, er bod y cyfnod wedi bod yn brysur ac yn arbennig o dda o ran arloesedd bu i mi gollo’r ymdeimlad o gymuned yn ystod y cyfnod clo. Dyma ofod pwysicaf y Parc, ble mae’r coffi’n gry a’r cwmni’n dda. Dwi’n edrych ymlaen i’ch gweld chi yma!

Great to have breakfast with our tenants for the first time in over a year and huge thanks to them for supporting and creating a community at M-SParc. I must admit that l’ve missed it, although lockdown has been incredibly busy and particularly good in terms of innovation, I lost the sense of community during the period. This is the most important space in the Park, where the coffee is strong, and the company has the sparc. I'm looking forward to seeing you here!"
The headline "Value of Community" resonated with me because I had visited Nant Gwrtheyrn earlier that day.  It is now the home of the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre but it was once a port for the export of granite "setts" or slabs.  There had been strong demand for granite throughout the 19th century as it had been used for cobblestones.  Several hundred workers had been employed in the extraction, dressing, loading and transportation of the mineral. Most of those workers will have married and brought up children in Nant Gwrtheyrn,  There was a school for those children and a chapel for Sunday worship and the big milestones of life such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.  

The community at Nant Gwrtheyrn declined in the first half of the 20th century.  The last visit by a minister to the chapel took place in 1914.  The school closed in 1948.  The last family left the port in 1949.  The reason for the decline is that the world's highway authorities stopped using cobbles in road surfacing.   There are still a few cobbled streets and lanes here in West Yorkshire.  It is very uncomfortable to drive over them and I worry about my suspension whenever I do.  The growth of motor traffic inversely diminished demand for granite setts  Much the same happened to slate extraction as ceramic tiles and other materials began to be used for roofing.  In the South of Wales as in my part of England, steel making and coal mining also began to decline.

Wales contains areas of outstanding natural beauty which has attracted visitors from every part of the world. That has brought employment and facilities such as swanky restaurants, specialist retailers and tourist attractions that local residents can enjoy as well as tourists.  But they have come at a price.  Last week I stayed at Criccieth which I have visited more or less every year of my life since 1951. Outwardly the town has changed very little over the last 70 years but the big change is in the talk on the streets and in the shops and cafés. Welsh was everywhere when I was a child and teenager.  Now I have had to look for it in order to practise conversations in that language.  Sure, every street has a Welsh name and every kid in Wales has to learn at least some Welsh even in English speaking schools.  But when you hear them talk to each other their conversation is almost always in English.

Now I find that very sad and before someone protests that I am as English as John Bull and this blog is sentimental twaddle let me explain why.  First, tourism leads to depopulation because falling prices encourage outsiders to buy dwellings that locals can no longer afford.  These properties are unoccupied for much of the year.   Even if the new owners move to Wales they bring their language with them. This is not confined to Wales.  The same trends are to be found in the Peak District, Dales and Moors of Yorkshire.  It is also happening in the Spanish Costas, Bali and the Caribbean.

If Welsh ceased to be used in everyday business the loss would not be confined to Wales.   The North of England and Southern Scotland are sometimes referred to as the Hen Ogledd.   Welsh or a language very closely related to it was spoken there for many hundreds of years. There are still reminders in place names such as Pen-y-Ghent for one of the highest points in the Pennines and shepherds' counting systems.   Modern Welsh links to that time.

So on seeing Mr ap Rhisiart's post, I congratulated M-SParc and its tenants on their resilience during lockdown and their emergence.  He responded by thanking me for my congratulations and commending my contribution to building an ecosystem for the M-SParc community.  That's certainly my hope and my intention.  The laws that protect investment in innovation and creativity are complex.   Inventors and entrepreneurs need specialist professional advice and representation when protecting their brands, designs, innovations and creativity, raising funds for research and development and licensing their products and services.   Events like our webinars on World IP Day introduce M-SParc's tenants to such expertise.

M-SParc is an initiative of Bangor University.  The University was partially funded by small donations from working people across North Wales.    On the day that the University (then known as the University College for North Wales) opened in 1884, there was a procession of about 3,000 quarry workers who  had donated £1,200 to its formation (see "Early Years" in the Wikipedia entry on the University).  There is, therefore, a direct link between M-SParc and the mining and quarrying and other communities of which everyone connected with it should be very proud

Anyone wishing to discuss this article (though please not today as I am still in Wales) can call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form. 

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.