Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Business & IP Centre takes on twitter

First we blogged, then we facebooked, now we are twittering here at the Business & IP Centre.

Although Web 2.0 expert and commenter Leo Laporte has been extolling the virtues of twitter on his (unrelated) Twit.tv shows since it first started a couple of years ago, I remained to be convinced. But now we are engaging with this form of real-time web community to see what will happen.

In order to understand how twitter works have a look at the Twitter in Plain English video below. This is from Common Craft the same people who created the Wikis in Plain English video I blogged about in March.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

Located in the unlikely setting of Notting Hill, London the the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising is a little gem. It is based on the collection of consumer historian, Robert Opie, who saw the need to record the history of products around us.

“Starting at the age of sixteen with a packet of Munchies, the Collection now extends to all aspects of daily life – toys, comics, magazines, newspapers, technology, travel, royal souvenirs, fashion and design. Robert says, ‘Whilst families tend to save mementos from special occasions, it struck me that little was being done to keep the everyday material. When the thousands of pieces of this social history are assembled into some giant jigsaw, the picture becomes clearer as to the remarkable journey we have all come through’. ”

The collection contains over 12,000 toys and games, posters and magazines, fads and fashions, postcards and packaging. There is a strong nostalgic aspect of the museum as you discover sweets and games from your youth. The history of consumer culture is revealed decade by decade from Victorian times to the present day.

Two things struck me during the visit. One, was the increase in size of packages over time. Presumably a combination of wealthier consumers and less frequent shopping. The other was the simplification of branding over time. They have a great series of displays showing the development of household names such as Swan Vesta matches and Branston Pickle over time. With each ‘brand refresh’ the colours and logo’s are made clearer and simpler.

Jacobs Club

The only disappointment for me was not being able to find an example of a Jacobs Club biscuit the dominant brand of the 1980’s with one of the most memorable advertising slogans, ‘If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our club’.

Jif Lemon

There was a good example of ‘passing off’, known as the Jif Lemon case, where Reckitt & Colman Ltd took Borden Inc to the House of Lords and won.

From an article by Kenneth Choy discussing the tort of passing off:

“In the summer of 1985, Borden began selling its ReaLemon product in its lemon-shaped container in the UK. Reckitt & Colman became concerned and filed a lawsuit to stop the American company. Reckitt & Colman was successful in the lower courts and Borden took the case to the House of Lords.

Explaining the standard, which became known as the classic trinity, Lord Oliver asked:

1. Have the respondents [Reckitt & Colman] proved that the get-up under which their lemon juice has been sold since 1956 has become associated in the minds of substantial numbers of the purchasing public specifically and exclusively with [their] (“Jif”) lemon juice?
2. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, does the get-up under which the appellants [Borden] proposed to market their lemon juice in [the ReaLemon containers] amount to a representation by [Borden] that the juice which they sell is “Jif” lemon juice?
3. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, is it, on a balance of probabilities, likely that, if the appellants [Borden] are not restrained as they have been, a substantial number of members of the public will be misled into purchasing the defendants’ lemon juice in the belief that it is the respondents’ Jif juice? (pp.500-501)

Lord Oliver observed that supermarkets tend to sell only one brand and possibly their own house brand of preserved lemon juice. He noted Reckitt & Colman’s survey evidence showing that “a housewife presented with a display of these products in close juxtaposition would be likely to pick up . . . the [ReaLemon] product in the belief that what she was buying was the respondents’ Jif lemon juice” (p. 500) since Jif was the only “lemon-sized squeezy pack of lemon juice on the market” (p. 501).

Concluding that the three elements are satisfied, the Lords affirmed the permanent injunction barring Borden from marketing lemon juice in lemon-shaped containers in the UK.

Had the Jif lemon been a registered trademark, the case would have been much simpler to prove. Infringement is established if it can show that Borden’s ReaLemon container is identical or similar to the Jif lemon and that allowing the ReaLemon container in the market is likely to cause public confusion. Section 18, Trade Mark Ordinance (Cap. 559).

One may ask, if the Jif lemon had been sold since 1956, why wasn’t it registered as a trademark?

The answer is that, had they applied to register the Jif lemon as a trademark, the application would have been rejected by the registrar. This is because a mark that is a symbol of the goods or services it promotes does not qualify for registration. So, the Jif lemon is a symbol of lemon and lemon juice so it cannot be registered. If it is registered, it would prevent others from using a symbol of a lemon to sell lemon or lemon juice. Thus, Reckitt & Colman could only resort to a passing off claim in their fight against competition from ReaLemon. “

Top Business Research Tips

Karen BlakemanThe wonderful business information expert Karen Blakeman of RBA Information Services publishes a list of top business research tips on her blog at the end of each of her Business Information workhops.

This is the list generated by the researchers attending her workshop in April. As you may have spotted the 10 has grown to 15 in this instance.

1. FITA Import Export Business and International Trade Leeds. http://www.fita.org/. The “Really Useful Links” in the menu on the left hand side of the screen takes you to a range of international sources on business information. One participant of this workshop found the “Doing business”, and in particular in the Middle East, especially useful.

2. Nationmaster http://www.nationmaster.com/. An interface to a plethora of statistics on web sites world wide. Some of the statistics are 2-3 years old but there are links to the original site so that you can search for more up to date information. Several participants suggested that this site is a good ‘index’ of where data is likely to be found.

3. Blogpulse http://www.blogpulse.com/. One of several blog search engines, but this was singled out for its Trends graphs. These show how often your search terms are mentioned in posts over a selected period of time. In a business context the occurrences will usually match reports in the mainstream media. When they don’t, click on the peaks in the graph to see what is going on behind the scenes. Superb for picking up on rumours and gossip.

4. Yahoo Finance. Go to any Yahoo and click on the Finance link. For the UK version go to http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/. Yahoo Finance provides basic information on stock exchange quoted companies on the major stock exchanges around the world. Information includes current share price information (delayed by 15-30 minutes) provided by the stock exchanges; company profiles; charts in which you can compare the company share price with another company, the sector and an index such as the FTSE 100; current news on the company and focussing on the regulatory news; and daily historical share prices as figures that can be downloaded to spreadsheets.

5. Freepint Bar http://www.freepint.com/. Head for the discussion area, labelled as the Bar, where you can post your query and tap into the knowledge of regular ‘tipplers’

6. Silobreaker. http://www.silobreaker.com/. A new site pulling news from the usual newspapers and journals, but also blogs, video and audio. In addition It offers geographical hotspots, trends and a network visualisation tool, which was singled out by one participant.

7. Contact a relevant research, trade or professional body for help in locating experts. sources of information and reports. They may not have anything on their web site but there may something ‘on file’ that they are willing to supply free of charge or for which they are prepared to negotiate a fee.

8. Intelways. http://www.intelways.com/. An interface to many search tools grouped by type e.g. news, video, image. Type your search terms in once and click on the different search tools one by one. A reminder of the different types of information that you should be looking at and of the wide range of search engines that are out there.

9. Click on the Advanced Search option for any of the tools that you encounter, be it Google et al or a web site’s own search option. They offer great ways of focussing your search by date, file format, site, author etc.

10. RBA Business Sources. http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/. Selected sources of business information organised by type e.g. statistics, share prices, company registers. Yes, it is my own site [blush] but they did insist!

11. Phil Bradley’s web site and blog. http://www.philb.com/ and http://philbradley.typepad.com/. Excellent sources of information on Web 2.0 ’stuff’ and search tools. In particular, his blog has no-nonsense reviews of new search tools that claim they will change the world of search.

12. Intute. http://www.intute.ac.uk/. Forget about the ac.uk label. This is an excellent starting point for anyone working in business and wanting to identify quality resources on a wide range of subjects and industries.

13. Hometrack. http://www.hometrack.co.uk/. This site provides key statistics and data on the UK housing market and financing of that market. Especially relevant in the current economic climate.

14. Alacrasearch. http://www.alacra.com/alacrasearch. A Google custom search engine that focuses on business sites selected by Alacra. [A personal note: this is in my top 5 favourite search tools].

15. CIA World Factbook – country profiles. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factboo/. Key statistics on every country. For those of you of a more adventurous disposition when it comes to travel, it even includes the number of airports with unpaved runways.

Free business news search engine from Northern Light

Northern Light logoI remember Northern Light as one of the key early players in web search. It actually started in 1996, the same year that Google began as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, at Stanford University

However, for the last few years their services have been reserved for enterprise customers only. The good news it that they recently launched a free business news search engine called Northern Light Search.

It offers you the ability to register for free and set-up daily or weekly alerts on a range of saved searches you create.

However I believe its market research content makes for real killer content, as this is so difficult to find via standard search engines like Google.

Their Market Intelligence Wikis provide an overview of industries and business trends, with a detailed picture of market segments, issues, companies, and government regulatory actions.

“Our editors have been scouring the Web for authoritative analysis and commentary and for useful resources to create these concise, easy-to-navigate market intelligence wikis for the several industries listed below. If your industry is not already covered contact us or contribute to this public wiki!”

Topics Covered:
Accounting & Taxation
Aerospace & Defense
Agriculture
Automotive & Transportation
Banking & Financial Services
Chemicals & Plastics
Energy & Utilities
Environmental
Health Care
Insurance
Internet
Oil & Gas
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology
Private Equity & Venture Capital
Retail
Software, Computers, & Services
Telecommunications & Equipment

Northern Light screen shot

Many thanks for this tip to Warren Cheetham,  CitiLibraries|The New Townsville City

How To Protect Your Intellectual Property

When helping our customers wanting to protect their intellectual property as well as referring them to the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), we also include Own-it, which offers free intellectual property advice for creative businesses.

Here is a summary of their offering:

“Own-it offers free (yes – free!) online advice to help you solve your IP issues. This could lead to a free one-to-one advice session with specialist lawyers!

To use the service you need to be an Own-it member so why not register now or log-in using the form on the right-hand side of this page.
How Does It Work?

We offer two levels of service:

1. Check to see if an answer to your query can be found on the information already on Own-it. We offer FAQs, factsheets, podcasts, articles and events. This will save you time because if the information you request is already provided on the website, we’ll simply direct you to that information.
2. If your issue needs legal advice or intervention, then fill in our online advice form. We will then either answer your query online or offer you one free meeting (max. 45 minutes) with a lawyer from Own-it’s associated intellectual property firms.

Am I Eligible?

1. You cannot use the Own-it IP clinics for any existing legal claims or for second opinions on any legal intervention already taking place.
2. Please note that the Own-it IP clinics are for IP related legal advice only. The lawyers will not be able to deal with non-IP related queries or provide related information.
3. Please note that the Own-it IP clinics are for business whose annual turnover is below £100,000″

London demographics from the GLA

One question that comes up frequently in the Business & IP Centre is, ‘where can I find demographic information for London’.

As part of my recent visit to the GLA (General London Authority) City Hall I discovered their Data Management and Analysis Group (DMAG) publish useful demographic information.

Even better these are all free and available as pdf’s from their website.

Subjects covered include:

* Diversity
* Education
* Elections
* Focus on London
* Health and disability
* Labour market
* Population
* Poverty

Here is a list of some of their more recent publications:

Census Information Note
Pay Check 2007
GLA 2007 Round Ward Ethnic Group Population Projections
Council Tax Analysis
A Profile of Londoners by Country of Birth
Claimant Count Model 2008: Technical Note
GLA 2007 Round Demographic Projections
Greater London Authority Constituency Profiles
Family Resources Survey 2005/06: Results for London
London Borough Migrations 2001-06
Social Exclusion Data Team Workplan

London Demographics

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) on YouTube

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) have adopted YouTube as a communications vehicle, but I was.

Even more impressive is the fact they have created their own (pretty slick channel). As they say on their page, ” Videos produced by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) the Government organisation that helps UK based companies succeed in international markets. We assist overseas companies to bring high quality investment to the UK’s vibrant economy.”

You can even watch Lord Digby Jones who opened the Business & IP Centre back in March 2006.

Goodbye Ken Livingstone hello Boris Johnson

As a resident of rural West Sussex I had not been following the recent London Mayoral elections with as much attention as I should. So the election of Boris Johnson came as a big surprise to me.

By chance I had a meeting yesterday at Boris’ new home at the GLA (General London Authority) City Hall. The whole building seemed tense with excitement, with great change expected after eight years of Ken in charge. The 800 staff were preparing for an all-staff meeting at 3pm that day to hear the thoughts of their new boss Boris.

As it turned out Boris has been active and created several new roles as well as replacing many of Ken’s lieutenants.

He has also banned alchohol from all London tubes and buses from next month in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour. As might be expected the London Evening Standard is following developments closely.

It will be interesting to see what Boris changes and what remains the same in the next four years for London.

One thing I can say for sure is that he will have one of the best views of London from his office.

Facebook in Reality

I still haven’t quite made my mind up about Facebook.

Our Facebook get together in March was a great success, but I’m still not sure how many serious applications the service has.

I have also stopped ‘friending’ everyone I come across and started removing ‘friends’ who I don’t actually know.

It would be better if there were categories such as family, friend, acquaintance, colleague (or is that just the librarian in me wanting to categorise everything)?

To give you a sense of how ridiculous some aspects of Facebook are, idiotsofants.com have produced a video called Facebook in Reality. It is currently running at 460,000 views and comes up first when you type Facebook into YouTube.

Enjoy.