Thursday 30 May 2019

IP and Dance

Standard YouTube Licence

Jane Lambert

I once heard Cerys Matthews describe Ballet Cymru as "the pride of Newport and the pride of Wales". I would not dissent except to add that that it is also the pride of the whole UK.  The reason I mention the company today is that it is about to perform Romeo a Juliet at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport. It will then visit Bangor, Brecon, Porthcawl and Milford Haven as well as venues in England.  The company will visit the Pontio Centre at Bangor on the 4 June.  I was at the Pontio the last time Ballet Cymru visited that venue and was almost as impressed by the centre as I was by the entertainment. Northwest Wales is beautiful and the M-SParc (the Menai Science Park) has created an environment for knowledge-based businesses to flourish but enterprising, innovative and creative people also need the arts. The Pontio delivers the best on stage and screen.

Ballet Cymru's production is a great show.  One of the best interpretations of Shakespeare's tragedy that I have seen.  It stands comparison with Birmingham Royal Ballet's, English National Ballet's, the Mariinsky's. Northern Ballet's, Scottish Ballet's and even the Royal Ballet's, all of which I know. I have seen and reviewed Ballet Cymru's Romeo a Juliet twice (see A Romeo and Juliet for Our Times 7 Nov 2016 and They're not from Chigwell - they're from a small Welsh Town called Newport 14 May 2013 Terpsichore).

Ballet Cymru is based in Rogerstone which is a township just outside Newport. It would be wrong to call it a suburb of Newport even though it is within that local authority's boundaries because the folk who live in that part of Wales have a strong sense of local identity. Caerleon is also within the city limits but it has existed since Roman times. One of Ballet Cymru's neighbours is the Intellectual Property Office  which describes itself as "the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright."

Copyright protects the work of artists, broadcasters, composers, dramatists, filmmakers, publishers, recording studios other creative persons from unlicensed plagiarism and other exploitation.  Unlike patents, trade marks and registered designs, it does not have to be registered in the UK. The right comes into being automatically so long as the conditions for the subsistence of copyright are net. These are originality in the case of artistic, dramatic, literary and musical works and fixation and qualification in the case of all works. "Originality" used to mean independent skill and labour but is now intellectual creation.  "Fixation" means writing the work down or otherwise recording it. "Qualification" means the nationality or residence of the author or his employer or the place of publication. Basically, that includes a British national or resident or the national or resident of another country that provides reciprocal protection to the works of British authors under the Berne Convention or otherwise. 

Copyright is not necessarily infringed by making a similar work (see Davies v Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club (1986) Ltd [2019] EWHC 1252 (Ch) (15 May 2019) which I discussed in Copyright: Davies v Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club 25 May 2019 NIPC Law). It is infringed by copying or by doing in relation to the work one the other restrictive acts mentioned in s.16 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  Similarity between two works and may suggest that there has been copying particularly when the author of the later work had the opportunity to see the earlier one but there may be many other reasons for such similarity such as functional exigency or sometimes mere coincidence.

A ballet is likely to consist of lots of copyright works.  There is the score for a start and then possibly the libretto.  Copyright can also subsist in choreography as a dramatic work so long as it is recorded in Benesch or some other notation (see my article Cracking Nuts - Copyright in Choreography 24 Nov 2011 IP Northwest).  The backdrop of the set and the designs of the fabric may well be original artistic works. There is also likely to be design right in the designs of the costumes and perhaps the props and sets. Finally, each and every one of the dancers and musicians has the right not to be filmed, taped or broadcast without consent under Part II of the 1988 Act (see Rights in Performances).

Actors tell each other to "break a leg" when they go on stage.  That is not really appropriate for dancers because they sometimes do.  They wish each other "toi, toi, toi", "chookas" or sometimes even "merde" instead.   Let's wish Ballet Cymru toi, toi, toi at the Riverfront tonight.   Do try to catch them on their tour of Wales if you possibly can.  If you want to discuss this article or copyright in general, call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Sunday 5 May 2019

Welsh University Start-Ups

Author J Newman & Co.
Source Wikipedia Aberystwyth University


Jane Lambert

According to the BBC "universities in Wales are producing more graduate entrepreneurs than higher education generally across the UK(see Brian Meechan New business: Welsh universities' high start-up rate 2 May 2019). Having attended Pitch Perfect at M-SParc, having given talks there and at Aberystwyth University and having visited Bangor University's Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre, I am not surprised. Wales is a pleasant place to live, with fine research universities and, increasingly, a lively cultural scene.

But there is still more that can be done. Shortly before I spoke at the World IP Day celebration at MSParc I attended a presentation by Mo Aldalo, Tech Nation's Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for the North West at Sci-Tech Daresbury. I chatted with him briefly after his presentation, told him a little bit about M-SParc and its tenants and asked him whether Tech Nation would like to give a similar talk there. He replied that it would and I have followed that up with an email putting Mo in touch with M-SParc's management.

In my article Resources for Inventors and other Startups in Northwest Wales 5 Feb 2019 NIPC Inventors' Club I noted that "all the patent and trade mark attorneys in Wales practise in the south and mainly in and around Cardiff." The nearest ones appear to be in Chester and Liverpool and I shall try to persuade one of them to accompany me to Gaerwen when M-SParc holds another seminar on IP. Other speakers for the future could include a patent librarian to teach businesses owners and managers how to carry out simple patent, design and trade mark searches and an insurer specializing in IP insurance to talk about the various types of cover that are available.

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

Saturday 4 May 2019

Helping Wales's Home Grown Inventors

Sir William Grove, Inventor
Author Lock & Whitfield
Wikipedia William Robert Grove

Jane Lambert

On the Inspiration page of its website, M-SParc (the Menai Science Park) notes that "Wales is home to some of the best scientists in the world".  Many such as Lyn Evans who was project leader of the large hadron collider at CERN are employed by organizations in the public or private sectors but there are also many others in all walks of life who simply have good ideas.

One such was Willian Robert Grove whose photo appears above.  He was a prolific inventor whose inventions include the gas voltaic battery which was the forerunner of the fuel cell, a technology upon which the world is likely to rely increasingly if it is to meet its carbon reduction targets. Like me, Grove was a barrister whose practice included patents. There are still plenty of inventors like Grove today and the government seeks to harness their potential in its industrial strategy (see "Harnessing the Potential of the UK's Home Grown Inventors" - The Government's Proposed Industrial Strategy 24 Jan 2017).

Such inventors do not get an easy time for all sorts of reasons.  It is one thing to create a new product or process but quite another to market it.  If an inventor tries to make and market his or her invention he or she has to go into business which is impossible for many.  Entrepreneurship and invention do not always - in my experience, rarely - go together.  If an inventor tries to license the invention to an established business he or she meets not invented here scepticism for he or she is, by definition, an outsider.

So what can private inventors do to lower the odds against success?  One thing that inventors in other parts of the UK have done is to learn from each other.  Inventors in Northwest England have formed Ideas North West which described itself as  "a membership group of Inventors based in the North West of England" with the aim of helping each other exploit their ideas for new products or services in order to gain commercial success.  They have their own invention promotion company called Ideas North North West Limited which appears to have helped several local inventors.

According to the Wessex Round Table of Inventors, there are similar groups in most parts of the United Kingdom though it seems none for Wales as yet.  There is already a lot of support available for inventors in North Wales around M-SParc and the Pontio FabLab as events like Pitch Perfect and last week's World IP Day celebrations show.  Those of us who took part in last week's seminar would like to build up a comprehensive support network like those provided by the British Library in London and Business and IP Centres in other English cities.  There will soon be another science park in Aberystwyth where similar networks could be developed and, of course, there is the Intellectual Property Office in Newport which already hosts regular patent clinics.

if, while such networks are being developed, any inventor needs help with patenting, licensing, enforcement or other legal issues or signposting to other services such as angels, product design engineers, IP tax experts and others, he or she should call me during office hours on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.