Saturday, 13 March 2021

Rise & Design: Wearable Tech Webinar

The Apple Watch
Author fancycrave1 Copyright Waiver CC0 1.0 Source Wikimedia 















Jane Lambert

On 12 March 2021, the Design Network North held a webinar on wearable tech.  It was a very good meeting with speakers from Northumbria University, a company called Design Aware Body Survival ("DABS") and MediBioSense. There were also two opportunities for networking in breakout sessions and several of us had opportunities to present our businesses towards the end of the meeting.

The first presentation was given by Dt Alan Godfrey, Senior Lecturer of the Department: Computer and Information Science of Northumbria University, He spoke about his analysis of data on the way that individuals' walk which he had abstracted from devices that had been attached to patients' bodies. He gave the example of patients suffering from Parkinson's disease who tend to shuffle. Such research would improve diagnosis and patients' safety and mobility.  At one point Dr Godfrey spoke about standards for wearable devices which prompted me to ask who set those standards. The reason I asked that question is that compliance with standards set by ETSI for mobile telecommunications and other technologies sometimes requires the use of patented inventions which has given rise to disputes between users and patentees over whether patentees are entitled to licence fees and, if so, on what terms (see FRAND 8 Oct 2017 NIPC Law). It was clear from his answer that Dr Godfrey had a different context in mind but he replied that standards for some wearable tech had been set by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and other organizations.

The next speaker was Ryan McKinney of DABS Official.  DABS stands for Design Aware Body Survival. DABS is a startup that supplies a range of protective gloves designed to be worn throughout the day enabling wearers to go about their everyday business including, perhaps, shaking hands with others.  On "The story of DABS" page of the business's website, Mr McKinney wrote:
"The best ideas are those that solve problems.
For me it was the handshake."

DABS's gloves are both practical and stylish.  They are practical in that they protect the wearer from infection and are comfortable to wear all day. The "protection" page states that the gloves are treated with "Polygiene ViralOff technology, making them protective and safe". This is described as "an anti-microbial treatment added to the textile to protect the glove from contamination, and allowing the glove to sanitize itself."  According to the "tech-friendly" page, the gloves are made from a "breathable material" that "makes wearing the glove for extended period extremely comfortable, whether at work or at the shops." They are stylish because they were designed by Mrs Ryan McKinney who is a fashion designer. Photos of Mr McKinney and a lady accompanying him on the home page show that the gloves look as good on men and women in business attire as they would with leisurewear and overalls.

The last speaker was Simon Beniston who is founder and CEO of MediBioSense Ltd.  This is described as 

"a global multi-award-winning healthcare innovation company with a focus in medically certified wearable technologies, with team members and representatives, based in Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas."

One of the company's products is VitalPatch which is a wearable health monitoring device that continuously monitors heart rate, respiration, ECG, temperature, and movement, with data sent in real-time via Bluetooth. Mr Beniston described that device to the meeting.  He explained how it worked and discussed some of its advantages over conventional devices.

After the formal presentations, I was invited to give a 2-minute pitch about my practice.  I had intended to give a very short talk about the legal protection of wearable technology but changed my mind in one of the breakout sessions when I contributed to a conversation on IP on wearable technology.   I was asked what I did for a living and when I replied I was a barrister I was asked what barristers do with regard to IP.  In my pitch, I explained that we advise other professionals such as patent and trade mark attorneys on difficult points of law.  We represent them or their clients in the courts, Intellectual Property Office and other tribunals.   We also draft legal documents for use in business as well as dispute resolution.  Our relationship with those other professionals is often compared to that of a consultant surgeon or physician in medicine (see IP Services from Barristers 6 April 2013 NIPC News).  When Terry McStea, the moderator, asked how I might be consulted I explained that many of my clients were founders and other business owners who did not have relationships with specialist law firms, patent or trade mark agencies or other professionals and I helped them to acquire the necessary expertise to resolve a particular problem.  I added that I worked with accountants, brand consultants, product design engineers and many others as well as legal professionals.

The presentation that I had prepared would have been as follows.  Although two of the talks in the webinar had been about wearable tech in healthcare I would have noted that there are many other uses for the technology.  These include personal entertainment, mobile computing and communications, defence and security, fire and rescue, operating underwater, in radioactive conditions, outer space or interplanetary exploration. The protectable intellectual assets were obviously a product's technology but also its design and, maybe, its supplier's brand.

If a wearable product or process relating to such products such as data analysis was likely to be marketable for a number of years then a patent would be the optimum protection for the technology.  If not, some other form of protection such as trade secrecy or unregistered design right might be more appropriate.  I explained that patents are expensive.  Usually about £5,000 for the UK alone and may be £100,000 or more for the main industrial companies when office fees, attorneys' fees, translations and other expenses are dotted up. Protecting the patent from revocation in the world's courts and intellectual property offices might be even more expensive and it would be prudent to obtain insurance against the costs and consequences of litigation wherever available.

For some products such as a wristwatch style computer or indeed DABS's gloves, the appearance of the product may be the draw.   Suppliers could register those products as registrable designs or as registered Community designs for the 27 remaining member states of the EU. Overseas they could take advantage of the Hague Agreement to register designs or design patents in countries outside the EU.  Designs that are capable of being registered as registered designs but with short shelf-lives are protected automatically against copying in the UK for 3 years as supplementary unregistered designs or as unregistered Community designs in the EU.  In the UK unregistered design right and even artistic copyright protection may be available.

Finally, every business has a brand and names, initials, logos or other signs identifying that brand can be registered as trade marks in the UK and EU trade marks in the remaining EU member states.  For other countries, applications for registration in a number of countries can be made under the Madrid Protocol.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of the options for protecting their brands, designs, technology or creativity can call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

The Impact of EU Exit on the Health and Life Science Sectors

Author Tim Reckmann Licence CC BY 2.0, Source EU Autritt






















RTC North is holding a series of talks by Neil Warwick on Preparing Your Business for EU Exit – Success in 2021 and BeyondMr Warwick is a solicitor at the Newcastle office of DAC Beachcroft where he specializes in EU and national competition law.  He is also the National Portfolio Chair on Brexit for the Federation of Small Businesses and has a held a number of other important appointments.  His talks cover manufacturing, health and life sciences, subsea, energy and offshore and digital, tech and creative industries.   I attended Mr Warwick's talk on health and life sciences which he delivered on Tuesday.   

He started by acknowledging that brexit is an emotive subject and he did not wish to discuss its merits or otherwise,   His task was to offer his audience practical advice and information.  The UK's exit from the single market and customs union at 23:00 on 31 Dec 2020 was assured.  There was no guarantee that agreement would be reached on the UK's future relationship with the EU.  Businesses in the healthcare and life science sectors should plan on the assumption that there will be no deal with the EU upon the end of the transition period.

There will no longer be free movement of goods, services, labour and capital between the UK and EU. That means customs formalities and possibly tariffs on imports from and exports to the UK's biggest and richest market. It will be less easy to recruit workers from the EU or second British workers to operations in the EU member states.  EU funding will cease.  It will be less convenient to travel to EU states.  Businesses should assess how these changes will affect them, identify areas of concern, make contingency plans to deal with those concerns and procedures for implementing the plans.

The healthcare sector could expect regulations to diverge over time.  Businesses should stockpile essentials where they can.  Contracts should be reviewed for clauses modifying or excluding performance as a result of brexit.  There will be a lot of new legislation.  New computer systems will be required.  The UK will cease to have preferential access to many third-party markets. There will be extensive changes to IP, data protection and the regulation of medicines and medical devices.

Mr Warwick saw a number of opportunities arising from brexit.  It was, in his view, preferable to be regulated by the MHRA. There could be an end to restrictions on state aid.  It would be easier to work with partners outside Europe,  Finally, the pandemic had shows that businesses should always be ready for the unexpected.

Thise interested in British withdrawal from the EU and its consequences may wish to check out NIPC Brext,  Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Rise and Design Online: A Webinar for Designers in Northeast England on Designing our Way out of Lockdown

By User:John_the_mackem - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1627723








Jane Lambert

On 20 Jan 2017, I attended a "Rise and Design£ networking seminar in Huddersfield on the Power of Collaboration (see Rise and Design in Huddersfield  21 Jan 2017 IP Yorkshire).  I subsequently found out that "Rise and Design" was just one of a number of services offered by Design Network North which "was established in 2007 with the aim of increasing the contribution that design makes to the economy." The project is delivered by RTC which claims to be one of Europe's leading technology transfer companies with offices in Sunderland,  Leeds and Daresbury, The "Rise and Design" seminars are held at different locations in Yorkshire and North East England each month and some of those locations are a long way from my home. For that reason, I did not attend any more until last Friday.

Since lockdown began, Terry McStea, Head of Design Network North, has held informal conversations over Zoom for designers and others interested in design in North East England and Yorkshire on most Fridays between 11:00 and 13:00.  I have attended several of those sessions and learned a lot about the design sector in those regions.  Graham Archer of Archer IP has also attended some of those events, Consequentially, he or I or both of us have participated in an occasional discussion of intellectual property.

Last Friday, Design Network North held a webinar or online Rise and Design networking seminar entitled Rise and Design: Designing our Way out of LockdownThere were about 60 names on a delegate list that Terry circulated shortly before the event  There were formal presentations from Matt Atkinson of Radical Panda, Dave Swan of Tharsus, Angela MacOscar of Northumbrian Water, James Rutherford of Kick Cards and Helen Short of AQCT. There were also interventions from Karl McKraken of the North East LEP and Jane Anderson of JCA Consult.

The webinar was conducted over Zoom which enables participants to assemble in small groups like breakout rooms in conventional conferences.  Before the presentations began I was allocated to a breakout toom with Matt, Angela and Karl where we introduced ourselves.   About halfway through the webinar, Terry divided us into different breakout groups.  On that occasion, I met Helen and Jo Gooding of Design Research Associates.  These were very useful opportunities to get to know the delegates and speakers a little bit better. My only criticism of them is that they were very short.  However, had they been longer it would have been impossible to fit all the presentations and interventions into the timetable.

Radical Panda's mission is "to be a trusted partner in helping businesses to understand and manage digital transformation".  It offers a variety of services from analysis to crime scene to the automotive, construction, defence, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and security industries.  On the Eventbrite booking page, Matt wrote:
"Many businesses are embracing digital technology to cope with the current restrictions, whether that's selling products online to Zoom meetings with clients. But there is a danger that we choose the first solution we come across. Matt will describe his approach to understanding where the real gains can be made, and some tools to help you explore new ways of working and services to offer."
In his presentation, Matt described the methodology by which his company identifies the appropriate solution for its customer.  He shared a slide with "Strategy" on the extreme left and "Implementation" on the extreme right with large connected hexagons in between.  One of the hexagons was labelled "Inspiration" and the other "Ideation". He discussed each of those elements in his remaining slides.

Tharsus is a product design consultancy which aims to partner customers "from initial concept to commercial delivery,"  On the Eventbrite page, Dave had written:
"Now that social distancing has become the norm, keeping employees and customers safe has become a major issue for busineses. Tharsus have responded to this by developing bump, a wearable device that helps individuals maintain a safe environment, and allows businesses to monitor the effectiveness of the systems they've put in place. Dave will give us some insights into this new technology and it's creation."
In his talk, Dave discussed the "Bump" which is a wearable personal motion system that warns the wearer when someone is too close for his or her personal safety.  According to the company's website
"It uses tried and tested radio frequency technology to alert people instantly when they’re too close. It’s peer-to-peer, GDPR-compliant and allows wearers and site managers to access the whole system’s analytics in the cloud."
Dave, who is Chief Technical Officer, spoke enthusiastically about the product without slides or notes and stimulated a lot of interest when the discussion was opened to the audience.

As its corporate name indicates, Northumbrian Water is the water utility for much of Northeast England but Angela added that it also has customers in Essex and Suffolk.  For the last four years, the company has held an Innovation Festival.  This year the Festival will take place online between 14 and 17 Sept.  Angela described previous events and discussed the preparations for the 2020 event which will encourage participation from all parts of the world as well as Northeast England.

Kick Cards is a tool to facilitate business discussion and ideas generation.  They are James Rutherford's own creation.  James describes himself as a "startup engineer" or, more precisely, as a "Web Service Developer // CTO for Hire // Creative Technologist."  The cards are sold in packs. Each pack consists of:

"42 Prompt Cards
To gently guide you with simple questions into powerful discussions 

4 Aspect Cards 
Try these to approach any of the Prompt Cards from an unusual viewpoint 

3 Outstanding Discussion Cards. 
Teams can use these to keep conversations productive 

7 Instruction Cards
How to use Kick Cards in different settings and tips for getting the most from them 

Access to a large online resource 
Extensive background info to bring more value to each card"

James demonstrated his product and described its uses in his presentation. 

"AQCT" stands for "Absolute Quality Consultancy and Training". The company offers management Systems and Training built around customers' businesses.  Helen leads the company's consultancy services.  In her presentation, she described those services and explained how they benefit their customers.

In his intervention, Karl summarized some of the services available the LEP's match funding scheme for small businesses in the North East.  In her intervention, Jane described her consultancy's Staff Wellbeing Framework Model,

Design Network North publishes Rise and Design A Guide for Beginners which contains useful information for any networking event and not just Rise and Design. I found last Friday's Rise and Design event to have been one of the best online seminars on any topic that I have ever attended.  I would strongly recommend those events to anyone with an interest in design.  I would also commend the informal Friday drop-in conversations.  Anyone wishing to attend one of those events can register here. 

While this Covid-19 emergency continues, anyone wishing to discuss this article of any of the topics mentioned in ti should clerk on +44(0)7986 948267 or send me a message through my contact page while this emergency continues.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Initial Advice and Signposting in North East England

Author Tony Grist Source Wikipedia North East England
















Jane Lambert

In 2014 the North East Local Enterprise Partnership ("NELEP") published a strategic economic plan to create 100,000 new jobs in its region by 2024,  A copy of the plan can be downloaded from "the Plan" page on NELEP's website.

Those new jobs were expected i:
Until the lockdown, the plan seemed to be working.   The website reported that  74,000 new jobs had been created since 2014 and improvements to employment rates, economic activity and productivity had been achieved.  More detail is offered in the "Our Progress" page.

Though the shutdown will have dampened demand for some of the products of the advanced manufacturing sector such as motor vehicles those four sectors should be more resilient than most.  Indeed, there should even be some positive growth,

Much of that growth will come from startups and other small business including especially spinoff ventures from the region's research universities.  An important resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners is the Business and IP Centre at Newcastle Central Library. This was the first of a national network of regional libraries to partner with the Brtish Library in offering high-quality business advice, information and training either free of charge or at a modest cost.  Newcastle Business and IP Centre offered a particularly extensive range of services to its users.

Many of those services have been suspended during the shutdown but it is still possible to access online services from Newcastle and London.  It is also worth joining the Business and IP Centre's Linkedin and Facebook groups and following their twitter stream.

One of the most useful services offered by the Newcastle Business and IP Centre was the IP clinic operated by local patent attorneys in partnership with the library and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.  I normally advise and assist the attorneys and lawyers who run these clinics by providing further advice on complex legal issues and other matters on which counsel are best placed to advise (see Jane Lambert IP Services from Barristers 6 April 2013 NIPC News),  While the clinics are shut I provide initial advice and signposting over Zoom.  I also discuss IP issues likely to affect private inventors through my Inventors Club blog and trade mark, domain name and other branding issues in my Branding blog.

Anyone requiring initial advice and signposting over Zoom should complete the form below.  Anyone who wishes to discuss this article should contact me through my message page.  I shall respond promptly by phone, VoIP or email.


Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Small Claims Track IP Litigation in Newcastle upon Tyne

Author Steve nova Licence CC BY-SA 3.0  Source Wikipedia Quayside



















Jane Lambert

One of the most interesting announcements of the new Intellectual Property Enterprise Court Guide is the decision to appoint from October 2019 district judges to hear small intellectual property claims in Newcastle upon Tyne (see The New IPEC Guide 4 July 2019 NIPC News).

The cases that those district judges will be entitled to hear pursuant to CPR 63.27 will be claims for £10,000 or less for the infringement of intellectual property rights other than patentsregistered and registered Community designssemiconductor topographies and plant varieties. In Small IP ClaimsI gave examples of cases that might be suitable for the small claims track and of others that would not.  The claimant must ask for the claim to be allocated to the small claims track in its particulars of claim and no objection should be raised by the defendant.   However, even if a case falls within the jurisdiction of the small claims track and the parties want it to stay there, the court may transfer it to the multitrack if it is likely to take more than a day to try or there is a difficult point of law or factual issue to decide.

Proceedings in the small claims track are governed by CPR Part 27 and the Part 27 Practice Direction as modified by CPR 63.27 and CPR 63.28 and paragraph 63.32 of the Part 63 Practice Direction.  Though successful claimants can obtain final injunctions and orders for delivery up of infringing materials as well as damages or accountable profits they cannot claim interim injunctions.  Liability and the amount of any damages or other pecuniary relief to be awarded are decided at the same time.  Directions are given automatically in accordance with Appendix B or of the Part 27 Practice Direction after statements of case are exchanged and although the court has power under CPR 27.6 to hold preliminary hearings these are to be the exception rather than the rule. There is no provision for disclosure and the costs that may be recovered from an unsuccessful party are limited to court fees, £260 if an injunction is sought and a lawyer has been instructed, travelling expenses and loss of earnings up to £95 per witness and up to £750 in experts' fees.

The new IPEC guide indicates that those wishing to bring an IP case in the small claims track in Newcastle should use the electronic filing system.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or small claims track IP litigation generally should call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Intellectual property advice in North East England - Tips for the next George Stephenson or Catherine Cookson

George Stephenson


























Jane Lambert

If you invent a new method of transportation like George and Robert Stephenson or write a blockbuster novel like Catherine Cookson you would expect some sort of reward for your efforts. But you will only get it if people travel on your conveyance or buy copies of your books. They may not do that if they can travel slightly more cheaply on someone else's railway or buy knock offs of your books at a lower price.

That's where intellectual property comes in. Intellectual property (usually abbreviated to "IP") is the collective name for the bundle of rights that protect investment in intellectual assets, that is to say brands, designs, technology and creative works. Thus, patents grant inventors a monopoly of a new invention and copyrights confer upon authors exclusive rights to reproduce their literary works.

But IP rights cannot be unlimited or unconditional as monopolies and restrictions are bad for consumers and the economy generally. In making and enforcing the laws that confer those rights Parliament and the courts impose limits and conditions that have to be observed.  Get them wrong and you lose your legal protection.  You may even end up paying money to an unscrupulous competitor.

Clearly you need professional guidance but that is not entirely straightforward because no lawyer or patent or trade mark attorney will know your business as well as you do.  He or she may suggest methods of protection that work for many businesses but not necessarily yours.  You need to know a little bit about IP and how it works in order to instruct your professional adviser properly and understand his or her advice.

A good starting point is the IP for business: events, guidance, tools and case studies page of the government website.  That contains links to:
You may also find useful training videos on the IPO's YouTube channel.

Another good online resource is the British Library's Business and IP Centre which offers the following services:
  • information on IP, copies of IPO and EPO literature
  • free 30 min enquiry service
  • advice on searching
  • free public access to internet, IP information resources, databases
  • fee based document supply service
  • commissioned novelty, current awareness and other IP searches
  • bespoke training sessions
  • Public Availability Date service
  • Business Information Advice Sessions
  • referrals to other advice/service providers
  • Comprehensive, fully-funded support programme for businesses specifically looking to grow.
The British Library is part of a national network of Business and IP Centres and patent libraries which includes Newcastle City Library  The Newcastle Business and IP Centre offers talks, workshops and clinics for local residents either free of charge or at a modest cost.

One of the most useful links on the P for business: events, guidance, tools and case studies web page is headed Seeking Intellectual Property AdviceThe page describes the services that are available online on the Government and British Library websites and the professional services offered by patent and trade mark attorneys and specialist intellectual property solicitors and barristers. As the information on barristers is a bit thin I wrote IP Services from Barristers  in NIPC News on who barristers are, what they do and how to instruct them.  I also mentioned their unique advantages.

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

Friday, 6 July 2018

Northern Powerhouse Business Summit - Great Innovators


Standard YouTube Licence

Jane Lambert

The Great Exhibition of the North describes itself as "a three-month celebration of the North of England’s pioneering spirit and the impact of our inventors, artists and designers. It’s a chance to show how our innovative spirit has shaped the world and is building the economy of tomorrow." One of the principal events of the Exhibition is the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit which has been taking place in Newcastle upon Tyne between 4 and 6 July 2018.  As my business is innovation I attended the first day of the Summit on Great Innovators. The other days focused on Great Opportunities and Great Futures.

The Summit took place in a building known as "The Boiler Shop" which is just behind Newcastle central station. According to its website the Boiler Shop was constructed in the 1820s for the world’s first locomotive works, Robert Stephenson & Company.  It was converted into an auditorium and conference centre in 2016.  The conference was opened by Pat Ritchie, Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council. She was followed by 15 other speakers who discussed their contribution to all sorts of projects ranging from developing inexpensive portable diagnostic equipment for use in remote rural communities to planting fruit and vegetables on vacant plots in Todmorden. The conference was chaired by Herb Kim whom I had first met some 10 years at events in Leeds and Manchester.

As the topic for the day was Great Innovators I had come to Newcastle expecting talks on the latest developments in science and technology.  While there was some of that in excellent presentations by Florence Diss of Google, Elaine Warburton of QuantuMDx and Sam Chapman of The Floow it soon became clear that the word "innovation" was to be given the broadest possible interpretation.  I make no complaint about that because I learnt a lot from the talks on all sorts of topics from recalibrating success in business from the chief executive of Grant Thornton to educating young people on the consequences of their decisions through Trylife's interactive screenings.

It would not be unfair to describe the event as a "summit" as there were some important speakers at the conference but I am not sure how much business was done there. My guess is probably a lot less than at a regional Venturefest which is why I seemed to be the only intellectual property lawyer (or indeed lawyer of any kind) and neither the Intellectual Property Office nor the local Business and Intellectual Property Centre exhibited at the Boiler House. Having said that, I met some very interesting delegates at the mobile lunch counters outside the Boiler House.

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