Category Archives: IP issues

Nutcase crash helmet

What’s the perfect name for a funky cycle helmet?

I’ve been greatly enjoying the Netflix television series Sex Education recently. It’s a brilliantly funny and rude evocation of the traumas of teenage coming of age.

Sex Education poster

It is also a very odd mix of English teenagers, who appear to be studying in an American High School, set in the present day, but driving around in cars from the 1970’s. Including the infamous Austin Allegro, allegedly the worst car ever made.

Austin Allegro

The final episode of the first series is about the main character Otis Milburn trying to let-go of his hangups about sex. In his role as an amateur teenage sex-therapist he advises his client Lily Iglehart, who has similar issues, to ride her bike down a steep field as a way of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’. He ends up he following her down the hill and flies over the handlebars.

But the point of this blog is the perfect product placement that follows. Lily who is something of an eccentric teen with a predilection for writing alien erotica, comforts our hero’s cut head and bruised ego, with her perfectly matched Nutcase crash helmet in full view.

Nutcase crash helmet

Nutcase have even collated images of their helmets spotted on celebrities, TV and movies on Pinterest.

Nutcase on the screen

 

 

 

Jump electric hire bike

The future of cycle hire is bright – really bright

This morning on my daily commute to work, pedaling hard on my Brompton bike, with its muted shade of blue, I spotted a really bright red bike across the road.

BlueBrompton

My ‘boring blue’ Brompton.

On closer inspection it turned out to be a brand new Jump electric cycle from innovative taxi company Uber.

Jump electric hire bike

A Jump bike in all its red glory.

As my eyeballs started to recover from the searingly bright red colour, I started thinking about how business like these really need to stand-out in order to be noticed by their potential customers. A rival to Jump is the Lime E electric hire bike scheme which started in San Francisco and launched here late last year.

lime-e-bike

The Lime E bike is also very eye-catching.

Based on non-scientific observations during my commute, I would say the lime green colour is slightly less noticeable than the red of Jump. And I wonder if potential hirers might be put off by the unfortunate similarity to Limey, the term of insult historically used by Americans about Brits.

The bright yellow Ofo bikes although very visible, failed after just a few months proving that although the market is growing it is also unstable.

ofo-bikeBright yellow, but not successful in the UK.

The original bike hire scheme in London is now called the Santander Cycle Scheme. And I first experienced it nearly ten years ago My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’. Luckily for them they don’t need to be as noticeable as they can only be hired from fixed locations, unlike their ‘free roaming’ competitors above.

Santander hire bike scheme

The first bike hire scheme in London, incorrectly known as Boris Bike.

Update:
I was interested to read a comparison of Jump and Lime E in the Evening Standard on my way home last night, Uber vs Lime: London’s dockless electric bikes are put to the test.

Vurger

What do you call a vegetarian beef burger?

Regular readers of this blog will know I am somewhat obsessed with the names of companies, products and services.

So often during my advice clinics I ‘help’ my clients discover the name they had chosen for their business has already been registered as a trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office. At this point some of them say they will no longer be able to start their business without the name they had their heart set on.

I explain that any name can work for a business. As long as it is legal, available and memorable. For example who would have thought these names based on fruit would have become associated with successful ventures (including the most valuable brand in the world).

fruit

 

logos

But, if you can come up with a great name for a business then so much the better. For instance what would you call a vegetarian beef burger? A Vurger of course. And that is exactly what The Vurger Co has done.

Vurger

 

You can read their story in detail here, but it is interesting to see that the idea started with health issues in a similar way to Deliciously Ella. And they way they initially tested the concept with a market stall. The best way to get feedback on a new edible product. I’m looking forward to finding out if they taste as good as they look.

Now I think about it, perhaps Vurger is too good a name, and they risk committing ‘Genericide’ in the long-term. This BBC website article explains how some brands that became household names lost the rights to their very own trade mark. ‘Genericide’: Brands destroyed by their own success. Maybe they will need to follow Google’s example and publish “rules for proper usage” of all its trademarks.

 

The coolest names are the best

Regular readers of this blog will know I live in Eastbourne, basking in the delights of the  ‘Sunshine Coast‘.

However our weather doesn’t always live up to expectations…

Sunshine Coast

As residents of Eastbourne we are very aware of our much cooler and trendier neighbouring town of Lewes. There are too many hip aspects to list in full, but here are a few:

  • Lewes is probably most famous for its anarchic Bonfire Night. Held every November 5th, with five competing bonfire societies marching noisily through the town, and the burning of controversial effigies.
  • It has had its own brewery since 1790 in shape of Harveys Brewery. They produce a beer in honour of Tom Pain their local celebrity revolutionary and founding father of the United States.
  • They print their own currency in the form of the Lewes Pound, designed to help support the local economy.
  • It has an internationally recognised opera house nearby at Glyndebourne.
  • The local football team founded in 1885 is now owned by the fans, and in 2017 became the first in the world to introduce equal pay to the mens’ and womens’ teams.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when the logs I needed for my wood burning stove turned out to come from a Lewes company called Just Log It.

JustLogIt

Which on further investigation turns out to be a subsidiary of Just Cool It.

Just-Cool-It-Logo

Which on goes to reinforce Lewes’s status as the King of Cool.

Lewes
The town is so pretty, old and curious – all tile-hung cottages with the whiff of hops on the air from Harvey’s Brewery – it could be an exhibit on Antiques Roadshow. But don’t be fooled. The town is full of Marxist lecturers from Sussex University. They like to burn effigies of David Cameron at their famous/infamous Bonfire bight. The Headstrong Club has been revived. And they still print Tom Paine’s scorching pamphlets at a press on the High Street. The revolution may still come.
Let’s move to Lewes, East Sussex: ‘Once a hotbed of radicalism’  From the Guardian Newspaper

Bonfire night Lewes

Putin_effigy

Lewes Pound

Tom Paine Ale

 

My new favourite brand name is Ugly

Triple BerryIf you read this blog, you will know I am slightly obsessed with brand names.

And I seem to spend quite a bit of my time at work trying to persuade people not to obsess about their trade mark. As long as the name is legal (check here for the UK) and not owned by someone else in your area of business (search here to check), the only thing that matters is how memorable it is.

And you can’t get much more memorable than Ugly. This big and bold name certainly caught my eye as I browsed the drinks available in our restaurant at the British Library yesterday.

Ugly flavours

On visiting the Ugly Drinks website, I was glad to see a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section explaining their unusual name.

Ugly Drinks FAQ

I haven’t yet managed to taste one of their range of drinks, but I’m looking forward to asking for an Ugly Drink.

Ugly Drinks

 

The shoelace is dead – long live the Hickie

Hickies lacesA while ago I wrote about the shoelace knot that never comes undone, but it seems my efforts to learn this amazing knot may have been wasted.

According to Gaston Frydlweski and Mariquel Waingarten, the inventors of the Hickies Lacing System, no one will ever need to learn to tie a shoelace again.

This inventive way of keeping shoes on your feet was launched via a Kickstarter campaign in 2012. And they managed to raise over $150,000, six times more than their initial target.

Since then the company has sold over 2 millions sets in 45 countries, and continues to grow.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not quite ready to ditch my trusty old laces for this futuristic replacement. But I do admire the founders for persevering with their 20 year dream of improving how you lace you shoes.

Hickies patent US D686909

 

 

Loos for Doos – a name Thomas Crapper would be proud of

I can never resist a good business name, and today I spotted Loos for Doos as I crossed the road when when popping out for lunch today.

But when I did a quick trade mark search on the UK IPO database, I noticed they don’t yet have a registered name.

Hopefully they will read this little note and take action…

trailer-standard

 

Paris – the place to try a Frog Burger

My favourite business names are ones that have a built-in sense of humour (Dry Patch and Ass Saver). So I was delighted when I first came across a Frog Burger pub in Paris.

I love the way the owners have turned an historical negative term for our next-door-neighbours across the ‘English Channel’ (La Manche to the French) into a marketing success.

This is all part of the revolution in French eating that has seen ‘Le Burger’ rise to the top of the menu across France. ‘Le burger’ now top selling dish in French restaurants

Below are the current variations on the brand, with my favourites being The Frog & Rosbif and of course The Frog & British Library.FrogBurgerTHE FROG & ROSBIF
THE FROG & PRINCESS
THE FROG AT BERCY VILLAGE
THE FROG & BRITISH LIBRARY
FROG XVI
FROG REVOLUTION
FROG HOP HOUSE
THE FROG & UNDERGROUND
FROGBURGER IN PARIS
FROGBURGER BASTILLE
FROGBURGER ST-MICHEL
FROGBURGER NEUILLY
FROGPUBS IN BORDEAUX

 

 

 

The Ass Saver that stops you getting a wet bum on your bike

Ass Savers logoSo many entrepreneurs I meet want to have a name that describes what their product does. But ironically the UK IPO may not allow you to register a name as a trade mark if “it is a descriptive word or term.”

For example Apple Inc would not be allowed to register their trade mark for fruit, as it would block everyone else from using the word apple. Much better is come up with a clever play on words that gets across what your product does. Even better if it achieves it in a fun way.

Now that autumn is here in London, it is time to think about trying to stay dry when travelling around the city. I wrote about Dry Patch – A BIPC success story with a great sense of humour a while ago. But more recently have spotted quite a few of these on my commute to work.

Ass saver

The name Ass Savers may not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly is short, simple and memorable – the most important aspects of a trade mark.

So far the owners have only registered the name under Nice Class 12, Vehicles and Conveyances for Bicycle mudguards. So it looks as though they aren’t ready to take over the world with their brand just yet.

Update! 24 October 2017

One of our clients designer Roderick Brosse at the Business & IP Centre has just won the the top award at this weekend’s British Invention Show with a minimal mudguard. His “Mud Bug” won the Diamond Award for British Invention.

Roderick has yet to find a manufacturer for his impressive invention, so watch this space.

mudbugpic

SpedDial

Speeding up my Brompton folding with SpedDial

Brompton from aboveI have been commuting to work on my Brompton for over three years now. Farewell Boris Bikes – hello to the Brompton folding-bike experience. I have written a few blog posts about my experience (15 learnings from a year of Brompton cycle commuting in London), and little ways I have tried to improve the bike (The safest thing on my bicycle is my Mirrycle).

This time I am experimenting with an improved Hinge Clamp Kit from SpedDial. I had already created something of a bodge solution using springs and plastic metal.

I came across the invention after recently joining the Brompton Hacks Group on Facebook. A post from SpedDial creator Stephan Bianchi piqued my interest. The link to his website included a video demonstrating a much improved version of the Brompton clamp.

SpēdDial Folds Fast from Stephan Bianchi on Vimeo.

The key is the dimpled handle which allows you spin it around really quickly.

SpedDial

I expressed my interest to Stephan and he explained he had sent a batch to Brilliant Bikes in Chobham. I rang them to order a set, but they hadn’t arrived. Soon after I received an email asking if I would like to test out SpedDial for them. I jumped at the chance, and a couple of days later received the little package below in the post.

Below is my amateur attempt at improving the clamp.

And here is the shiny new SpedDial replacement

So now for the big question… is it any good? And the answer is an emphatic yes. Actually it is brilliant.

It solves several problems:

  • It stops the metal bracket from twisting and blocking the fold
  • Using the finger dimple makes turning the knob much less fiddly
  • It saves time. I have set mine to just four turns from closed to open.
  • It prevents the bolt from falling out
  • The same lock nut gives you a predictable fold, so the handlebars no-longer fall on my leg.