It is a public/private business coaching service for high growth companies. It is mainly funded by the government via the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. To be eligible a company has to be UK registered, have up to 250 employees and a turnover of under £40 million. The coaching can fit with existing programmes and aims to help achieve high growth (~20% year-on-year for 2-3 years – but flexible for each company). There is a cost which is dependent on size: up to 9 people – £600; 10-49 people – £1,500; and 50-249 – £3,000.
One of their offerings is help and advice on commercialising innovation. This can involve the preparation of an intellectual property (IP) Audit. This generally covers the IP owned by a company but can be tailored for particular situations. For example, one company may want it to be directed at a planned new product launch, whereas another may want a more general overview. The selling point for companies is the UK Intellectual Property Office pays. This is worth at least the cost of the scheme for a larger size business, notwithstanding the business support coaching, advice and guidance.
As the cost is not particularly onerous and the scheme is heavily subsidised, it might be useful for growing smaller companies or for projects in larger companies (e.g. new product launches). Larger companies such as Huddle and The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys are part of the scheme and so it should not be thought of as directed towards the smaller end of the business spectrum.
I recommend that anyone who is interested check out their website where you can apply online.
Having found myself needing to quickly understand Korean, I note that a cheap machine translation service is available ($30/23 Euros) – either through the Korean Patent Office (http://eng.kipris.or.kr/eng/main/main_eng.jsp) or the European Patent Office (EPO) (http://www.epo.org/searching/asian/translation/K2E-PAT.html). The EPO’s service looks more user friendly and would probably allow for debiting from a deposit account.
May be useful for those dealing with prior art from an ex-PCT application with a Korean search.
As IPReg begins to find its feet I thought I would clarify the practice for newly-qualified attorneys.
Newly-qualified attorneys do not need to meet the CPD requirements in the year that they qualify – the requirements start on 1 January the following year. So, for example, I became UK-qualified in 2011 and so I need to start recording my CPD activity from 1 January 2012 (for Guidelines on CPD compliance see: here).
Newly-qualified attorneys do, however, need to complete a “CPD and Other Regulatory Information” form (as of 2012). This has a check-box to declare that you qualified in the previous year. The form then needs to be signed and returned to IPReg by end of February.
I could not find the new form on the IPReg website, so if you are missing one I would email email@example.com.
A quick reminder that the London Agreement came into force for Finland on 1 November 2011: http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/official-journal/information-epo/archive/20111004b.html .
For European patents granted with effect for Finland on or after 1 November 2011, no Finnish translation of the European patent specification need be supplied if the patent is granted in English or if an English translation of the patent is supplied in accordance with Article 65(1) EPC; but a Finnish translation of the claims must always be supplied.
This should save quite a bit of money for those wanting to validate in Finland as only a translation of the claims is now necessary.
Just a quick post for anyone looking for information relating to document formatting for UK specifications. In the words of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s Code of Practice:
“a. The presentation of the application (including drawings) should meet the requirements of rule 14 of the Patents Rules 2007 (see 14.26 – 14.57). For example, documents must be legible and capable of reproduction, and the margins should be kept clear and free from headers or footers denoting references or other matter (see 14.28).” [Section 5. - page 9 of the PDF.]
Rule 14 then makes reference to Schedule 2 of the Patent Rules 2007. I will not repeat it, it is not that exciting.
The important points from Schedule 2 for an online filing are:
- Frames (lines surrounding matter) must not be used.
- The pages of the description and claims must be numbered consecutively in a single series.
- Page numbers must be located at the top or bottom of the page (but not in the margin) in the centre.
- The minimum margins in any document must be 20mm.
- Each of the following: the request for the grant, the description, the claims, and the abstract, must begin on a new sheet of paper.
- The abstract, description and claims must use at least 1.5 line spacing, except where they form part of a translation or a sequence listing.
- The capital letters in any typeface or font used must be more than 2mm high.
For the drawings:
- Margins must be at least: 20mm top and left, 15mm right and 10mm bottom.
- No shading.
- Should still be clear if reduced in size to 66% of its original size.
- The capital letters in any typeface or font used in any drawing must be more than 3mm high.
Often, when discussing my job in public, I receive a number of pontifications on the various merits, or more usually demerits, of “the patent system”. It is said that “the patent system” is “broken” and that there are far too many “dubious patents”. Oft cited is Amazon’s “1-Click” patent, typically described as a monopoly on anything “1-Click” related.
In reply, I politely ask which “patent system” is being discussed, explaining the system of national territorial rights. The eyes then glaze over as I launch my defence.
Helpfully for me the European Patent Office has recently published Board of Appeal decision T 1244/07. This case relates to a divisional European patent application within the “1-Click” family. It is worth a read, especially for those with negative views of “the patent system”, as it rather nicely shows the European Patent system operating smoothly with not a breakage in sight.
Firstly, the claimed invention does not consist of the words “1-Click”. Instead, all of the following features are required:
”A method for ordering an item using a client system, the method comprising:
receiving from a server system a client identifier of the client system when the client system first interacts with a server system;
persistently storing the client identifier at the client system, wherein the client identifier is from then on included in messages sent from the client system to the server system and retrieved by the server system each time a message with an identifier is received from the client system by the server system;
storing at the server system for that client and other clients a customer table containing a mapping from each client identifier identifying a client system to a purchaser last associated to said client system;
storing at the server system customer information for various purchasers or potential purchasers, said customer information containing purchaser-specific order information, including sensitive information related to the purchaser;
connecting at a later point in time, when a purchase is intended, the client system to the server system, comprising the steps of:
sending from the client system a request for information describing an item to be ordered along with the client identifier;
determining at the server system whether single-action ordering is enabled for that purchaser at the client system;
if enabled sending from the server system the requested information to the client system along with an indication to perform a single action to place the order for the item;
displaying at the client system information identifying the item and displaying an indication of a single action that is to be performed to order the identified item,
performing at the client system that single action and in response to that indicated single action being performed, sending to a server a single action order to order the identified item and automatically sending the client identifier whereby a purchaser does not input identification information when ordering the item, and
completing at the server system the order by adding the purchaser-specific order information including said sensitive information that is mapped to the client identifier received from the client system.”
Secondly, even with this long list of features the Board of Appeal found the claim to lack an inventive step over previously published documents. In particular a journal article called ”Implementing a Web Shopping Cart” by Baron C. et al was cited.
Thirdly, I enjoyed the thinly-veiled dig at US and Canadian law:
27. It is interesting to observe the outcome of this application in other jurisdictions.
In the US, where there is no specific exclusion for business methods, the validity of the equivalent claims was never decided in court, but a decision by the Court of Appeal of the Federal Circuit (D6) lifted an injunction on the basis that the alleged infringer had “raised substantial questions as to the validity of the patent”. The patent was also re-examined and allowed in essentially the same form albeit limited with additional features of a shopping cart. The office action in the re-examination did not discuss D1, or go into details of cookie technology and the skilled person’s appreciation of it.
In Canada, the examiner had considered equivalent claims to be obvious over D5 and cookie technology. The review (D7) by the Commissioner of Patents found that the use of a cookie to retrieve purchaser-specific information was obvious (point 87), and the single-action ordering aspect not obvious (point 102), but an unallowable business method (point 181) and not technical (point 186). On appeal, the Federal Court overturned the latter findings for having no basis under Canadian law for such exclusions. D1 was not discussed in either of these decisions.
Some tips from the case law on general internal procedures. T 1764/08 deals with a case in where the grounds of appeal were filed electronically. The only problem was this was on 13 August 2008 and electronic filing of appeal documents was only permitted from 5 March 2009. So far, so “oops”.
What is interesting is the refusal of the request for re-establishment under Article 122(1) EPC. According to Article 122(1) EPC an appellant can only have his rights re-established if he was unable to observe the time limit for filing the statement of grounds of appeal in spite of all due care required by the circumstances having been taken. In this case it appears the internal procedures didn’t convince the Board:
17. Taking into account the submissions and evidence on file, the board has difficulty in acknowledging that, at the relevant time in question, the representative’s firm had an established system of checks to ensure that mistakes such as happened in the present case were avoided. It appears to the board that, although the assistants were generally instructed to use fax or regular mail for filing documents in appeal proceedings, there was no check or monitoring foreseen in the organisation of the firm as to whether these instructions were followed. It is clear from the representative’s submissions that the assistant relied merely on the representative’s instructions and, if the assistant did not receive any instruction, she “did what she was used to do, viz. send the letter to the EPO through epoline” (see the appellant’s letter dated 6 March 2009, page 2). This, however, speaks against a normally satisfactory system for monitoring the filing of appeals.
18. It is also the board’s view that filing an admissible appeal is not a routine task, but rather a complicated task which needs clear instructions from the professional representative to his assistant. In the present case, however, there is no evidence on file whether the assistant received instructions from the appellant’s representative for sending the statement of grounds of appeal to the EPO, and if so, what instructions. In particular a copy of the email allegedly sent together with the draft statement could not be provided to the board.
19. The board also considers that the assistant’s work should have been monitored as far as filing documents in appeal proceedings was concerned since at the relevant time the legal situation differed from that for filing documents in other proceedings before the EPO and the legal consequences for any failure were severe. In the board’s view the professional representative whose electronic signature was on the cover sheet should have checked whether the attached document could have validly been sent via epoline and should have instructed the assistant accordingly, in particular in view of the exceptional personal circumstances of the appellant’s representative, which were known within his office.
I guess the moral of this story is that it is essential to have documented internal procedures with suitable checks and balances (that are followed) to allow the emergency safety net of re-establishment to be of any use. Attorneys also cannot get away with blaming their assistants.
A little case law snippet (from T1930/07) to remind parties that are not turning up at Oral Proceedings to inform the EPO beforehand. Manners maketh the man (or woman):
3. The board notes that a professional representative has a duty to inform the European Patent Office as soon as possible of a party’s intention not to be represented at oral proceedings (cf. e.g. T 653/91, reasons 8, and T 1485/06, reasons 2.8; both not published).
Article 6 of the code of conduct of members of the European Patent Institute (epi), of which the representa tive is obligatorily a member, stipulates that the mem bers are required to act courteously in their dealings with the European Patent Office. The epi Council also issued the explicit recommendation that “if a party to an appeal decides that it will not attend a scheduled oral proceedings, the representative of the party should, as soon as possible … before the oral proceedings … inform the board of the party’s non-attendance” (epi Informa tion 4/2009, pp. 133-134).
The board considers it discourteous of the representative in the present case not even to have informed the board in time for the start of the oral proceedings that he would not attend.
On 8 September 2011 I attended TEDxBristol, an independently organised TED conference showcasing local leaders in the fields of sustainability, innovation and creativity. The event was held at Bristol’s newly-opened Mshed in a waterfront area that is quickly becoming a creative hub for digital industries.
The theme for the event was the World Around Us. A particular strength of Bristol enterprise is the ability to work both at a global and local level.
- Wendy Stephenson, a renewable energy engineer, described how The Converging World helped a small Somerset village, Chew Magna, build wind turbines in India to offset their carbon emissions.
- Tony Bury, a philanthropist and serial entrepreneur, explained the difference a mentor can make. His charity, The Mowgli Foundation, matches mentors with entrepreneurs in South West UK, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
- Richard Noble of Bloodhound CC entertainingly explained how they found themselves inspiring the next generation of engineers as part of their efforts to obtain a Eurofighter jet engine. The Bloodhound Education Programme involves over 2,410 primary and secondary schools, 176 further education colleges and 33 universities. Their journey to build a 1000mph car is now gathering pace, with tests due to begin in just over a year. They are aptly based just behind the SS Great Britain in Bristol Docklands.
- Professor Mervyn Miles presented some of the Centre’s current research including some mind-bending work on a holoassembler. This device use optical traps of focused near infra-red radiation, positioned in space via a dynamic hologram, to assemble microscopic, and even nanoscopic, structures. Researchers have combined this technology with a multi-touch interface to create a system that would not look out of place in a science fiction film.
- Tom’s talk provided a fascinating insight into the ups and downs of a private inventor. Over the last 10 years Tom has worked on a 360 degree camera for capturing immersive images (a “BubbleScope”). Tom explained his journey from his initial inspriation while travelling to his current iPhone pre-production accessory.
The event also featured preformances that built upon another of the West Country’s strengths: an ability to combine technology and the arts to produce truly original creations.
- nu desine, a young start-up from Bristol, showed off their AlphaSphere musical instrument. Their presentation also produced one of my favourite quotes from the event: “I don’t rap, I’m an electronic engineer”.
- David Glowacki, a theoretical chemist at the University of Bristol, demonstrated his Danceroom Spectroscopy project. This fuses theoretical Feynmann-Hibbs molecular dynamics simulations with a 3D imaging camera to allow the motion of dancers to warp the external forcefields felt by the simulated particles. The result is projected onto a screen with collisions mapped onto a muscial output. View it here.
- Tom Mitchell and Imogen Heap ended the day with a demonstration of Tom’s musical gloves. These gloves allow wearers to manipulate music using just hand gestures. The result is unbelievable; you can watch the performance here.
In all, the day was a resounding success. A big thank you to Karl Belizaire, the event orgnaiser and his team. Hopefully those that attended were inspired to create their own impact in Bristol and the wider World Around Us.
The EQE results appear to have been released to a hoard of anxious EQE students:
As with last year the results are presented in a long PDF document (presumably to irritate those trying to access their results using a smartphone). Get your candidate number and CTRL-F ready and good luck!
To those who have passed, congratulations!
To those who have missed out, commiserations! These exams are hard – dust your scripts off and get back on the EQE horse – there is always next year.