Visit to the small but perfectly formed Cartoon Museum

cartoon-museum-logoLast week I joined in with the LIKE (London Information and Knowledge Exchange) visit to the Cartoon Museum.

For several years I had walked past the building in Little Russell Street, just around the corner from the British Museum, on my way to work. So I was curious to see what was inside.

After a short introduction from the director and some typically ‘info-pro’ questions relating to copyright of the collection, we were free to explore the exhibits.

Downstairs I took in the permanent collection of historical works from seminal cartoonists such as Hogarth, Gillray and Cruikshank. Coming up to date with some hard-hitting images relating to the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

Source Wikimedia

Next was the current featured exhibition Heckling Hitler, with cartoons and comic art from World War II. There were some classics by David Low which you can view on the British Cartoon Archive.

In addition were some famous government propaganda posters from the time, including Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, Careless Talk Costs Lives and Doctor Carrot the ‘children’s friend’.




On the way upstairs I stumbled across a short video from Simon’s Cat. This creature was a new discovery, but this example was a brilliant reminder of my own cat’s ruthless methods of getting my attention.

Upstairs was a wonderful collection of original drawings from the likes of Dennis the Menace, Dan Dare, Rupert Bear and Roy of the Rovers. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a familiar sight from my youth. On closer inspection it turned out to be a page from the Trigan Empire, which appeared in my childhood magazine Look and Learn. An unexpected blast from the past.


I would strongly recommend a visit to the museum if you get the opportunity.

The Cartoon Museum
35 Little Russell St

Launch 22 – a charity business incubator in Silicon Roundabout

Launch22 logoI first met David Hardman the General Manager & Co-Founder of Launch22 back in August 2014. I was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm, and the service offered to business start-ups in the heart of Silicon Roundabout in East London.

Many of our customers in the Business & IP Centre ask where they can find incubation space for their business. And although other incubators exist in London, I’m not aware of any that are run on a charitable basis and offer scholarships. Also, I like the way they offer a mentoring service and help finding finance in addition to the work space.


Launch22 is a charity business incubator dedicated to growing early-stage startups and connecting entrepreneurs with industry experts as well as like-minded businessmen. We work mostly with disadvantaged entrepreneurs for whom a social co-working space with constant access to professional advice, networking and industry-related events is vital.

Our space runs on a membership basis with scholarships available for entrepreneurs who have a great business idea, but are struggling to launch it.

Many incubators are exclusive and expensive. We are turning that on its head so that every new entrepreneur can access great workspace, regardless of their economic or social situation.

We know from experience that starting a business is not easy. Any start-up will face challenges and difficulties on the road to success. That’s why at Launch22, we are not just providing a great workspace, we’re creating a community, a place where people can offer advice and guidance to each other, where they can collaborate on new or existing ideas, and of course make new friends along the way.

Mentoring on three levels
Entrepreneurs-In-Residence have been carefully selected because they have themselves experienced the challenges young entrepreneurs face when building a new business, and are always on hand to provide assistance when problems arise.

Allocated mentors provide vital one to one feedback, and are here to go that extra mile when it comes to understanding every facet of your business, and what it needs to succeed.

Specialist mentors are experts in their field, all giving up part of their day jobs as successful lawyers, accountants, and many more to share their wealth of knowledge with our startups.

When your business needs a kick start we’ll be there to make sure your getting the right help, at the right time, from the right people

The perfect Christmas present – the gift of time

Mondaine watch

I guess in this ‘time poor’ era we could all do with an extra couple of hours a day, but in the meantime for me, a new watch will have to do.

For some years I have aspired to own a Mondaine watch. Based on the iconic official Swiss Railways clock-face, they are simple and elegant. The design with its distinctive red second-hand have indicated the famously punctual Swiss trains at their stations for more than 60 years.

So I was more than a little surprised, and extremely happy to be given one as a Christmas present from my partner. Especially as I hadn’t mentioned my interest in owning one.

Canary Wharf ClockIf you want to see an example ‘in the flesh’ in the UK there is a little cluster of them at Canary Wharf in London Docklands.

My intellectual property expert colleague Phil mentioned that the design was the cause of  court case between Mondaine and the giant Apple computer company. The story was covered by the Daily Mail website in October and November of last year.

Bet Apple wish they could turn the clock back: Swiss firm accuses iPhone 5 of copying their iconic face design.

Apple ‘paid £13million to Swiss national rail operator’ after using its iconic clock design without permission

There is some irony here, as this was the same time that Apple was suing Samsung in the United States for copying elements of the iPhone screen design.


Mondaine clock face
Image from

Disney forces ‘Passing off’ company to destroy ‘mockbusters’

A whole half-page story in tonight’s Evening Standard about a firm who have been creating poor imitations of Disney blockbuster films.

Brightspark Productions Ltd (not to be confused with Brightspark Studios who have updated their homepage with the message below) have been forced by the courts to destroy their infringing films.


Passing off is nicely defined by Wikipedia:

The law of passing off prevents one person from misrepresenting his or her goods or services as being the goods and services of the claimant, and also prevents one person from holding out his or her goods or services as having some association or connection with the plaintiff when this is not true.

In this case parents were buying DVDs such as Tangled Up and Braver below, and finding their children were disappointed with the films inside the cases. They didn’t come close to the Disney level of quality of storyline or animation.

Brightspark’s managing director Jeremy Davis seemed relatively unrepentant when he said: “I really believed no one in their right mind would buy Braver thinking it was Brave. It was on sale for £2-something in Tesco. You’ve never seen a Disney title for anything near that. I obviously wouldn’t want any kids upset, but the feedback we get is our titles are cheap and cheerful.”



Yamasaki YM125 motorbike – the ultimate in brand flattery

Yamasaki--logoThey say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I think the Yamasaki YM125 may well be the ultimate expression of that in the biking world. Yes, I’m back on my favourite topic of motorbikes again, but this story is all about trademarks and branding.

This rather unexpected brand name takes me back to my early youth, when the British Bike industry still ruled the world, but Japanese imports to the UK were just beginning. Needless to say the old British Bikers would have nothing to do with these young upstarts from Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda. Their short-sighted criticisms would often be expressed in dismissive pithy phrases such as ‘I wouldn’t be seen dead on one of those Jap-crap Yamasakis’.

So it is something of an irony that China is beginning its inroad to the established Japanese market hegemony with this portmanteau word based on two of the biggest Nipponese brands. Even more so, the bike spearheading the attack is a copy of the best-selling Honda CG 125. You can make your up own mind how much of a facsimile the YM125 is, by looking at the photos below.

Although not yet available in the UK,  Bike Magazine recently imported one in ready-to-build crated form. After two hours putting it together they weren’t entirely impressed by the build quality, but they were by the on the road price of £896, and the 95 miles a gallon fuel consumption.

Certainly Richy1986, who posted this critical review on Review Centre listing 25 faults, was not impressed with his bike. Yamasaki YM125-3 – Cheap Rubbish!!!





Intellectual Property: A Success Story To Be Extended?

I’ve just been reminded of one of my  more scary speaking engagements of recent times. It was back in January 2009 at the invitation of Professor Michael Mainelli, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce at Gresham College.

It was at the Real Time Club. Founded in 1967, the Real Time Club is believed to be the world’s oldest IT dining Club. The Club is dedicated to participative events that provide “rapid responses to the challenges of the information society”.

My fellow speakers were:
Professor Ian Angel
, who is Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics and also Chairman of Creative Commons (England and Wales).
David Bunting, who is CEO of Trevor Baylis Brands plc (a company which he setup with Trevor Baylis), which provides route-to-market services for inventors and entrepreneurs. David is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a Fellow of the CMA,
Richard Overden, who is an Associate Director of Oxford University’s Bodlian Library and Keeper of Special Collections. Prior to that he worked at Durham University Library, the House of Lords Library, and at the University of Edinburgh.
Tony Pluckrose, who is a Partner at Boult Wade Tennant and also a Chartered and European Patent Attorney.

Here is a brief report from the evening:

Some 40 members and guests of the Real Time Club attended the first dinner of 2009 to debate the subject of: “Intellectual Property: A Success Story to be Extended? Just Desserts or Global Gridlock?” The Chairman, Mark Holford welcomed the guests and then handed over to the evening’s host, Professor Michael Mainelli, who is also the club’s Vice President.

The format of the evening was a brief (three minute) statement by each of the panel of speakers, followed by a lively and challenging debate, to which everyone present made a contribution.

The introductory sessions posed a series of challenges. These included:

* “Is Intellectual Property protection being mis-sold?” Inventors often do not understand patent protection – they have a great idea, talk about it in the pub, and don’t realize that by doing so they have already exposed it to the public. Their problem is the extent to which they dare tell people what they are doing. They think that a patent will give them protection, even if the idea has been put into the public domain, and defending a patent is very expensive. What they should do is think like an entrepreneur, by keeping quiet, building a product, and once it is built patent it and sell it to a large corporation.

* The second challenge was the unreasonableness of traditional copyright law: “Is it right that I should be charged $500 in Las Vegas to use 30 seconds of Ella Fitzgerald in a presentation?”

* The third challenge was the fairness of current practice – monopoly rights that are given by governments in the form of patents should be properly categorized and reasonably charged; if they are not, it will stifle inventiveness.

* We then moved into the realm of science fiction and considered the Star Trek replicator, which is fast becoming science fact, since replication costs are negligible. Why shouldn’t we generate an idea, create value, and then make it freely available? Don’t we have a moral imperative to do this? After all, multiple people possess an idea – it is rather arbitrary that the first person who patents the idea owns it. Replication is now also now a major part of the librarian’s job; because of digitization, librarians have progressed from being curators of knowledge within a specific location to providers of digital representation on a global scale. And relationships with companies like Google introduce commercial, as well as engineering, considerations.

* The final contribution to the introductory session was the differences between USA and European IP law. In the past the USA has granted patents relatively freely (as in the case of State Street Bank), whereas Europe has been tougher (as in the case of Symbian). The USA has now resiled, and the high tide has passed and is now receding, But although patents are harder to get, they are still being granted when they shouldn’t be. The issues are cost and complexity, including the expense of challenging patent rights.

Lynne Brindley appeals for UK web archiving was somewhat surprised to hear Lynne Brindley’s voice in my bathroom as I was brushing my teeth on Thursday morning this week.

It turned out she was being interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 talking about the lack of legislation which would ensure we don’t lose the vast amount of information only published on the World Wide Web.

The British Library has already managed to capture 6,000 sites in our UK Web Archive, but this is mere drop in the ocean compared to the millions of websites (past and present) in the UK alone.

It is reckoned that the average life expectancy of a website is less than 75 days, and that at least ten percent of UK websites are lost or replaced with new material every six months.

The problem is that until UK copyright law is changed, every website owner has to give permission to capture their site, and fewer than 25 percent of owners even reply to our requests.

In the meantime I suggest you nominate websites so we can capture more content.

I am rather proud of the fact that even this humble blog is being preserved for future generations of Infields to read.

He stole my idea – what can I do about it? – Workshop

HaleburyI’m still catching up on my notes from some of the events I attended during a manic Global Entrepreneurship Week  (GEW) at The British Library.

Although somewhat sexist in tone, He stole my idea – what can I do about it? really caught my attention. It was presented by Denise Nurse, the co-founder of Halebury one of our partners providing legal advice.  They aim to make law more accessible to everyone, in particular start-ups and medium sized companies.

Here are my notes from the workshop:

1.      What is Intellectual Property?

  1. Ideas are not protected until you do something with it. It has to turned into something tangible.
  2. Often compared to physical property. You wouldn’t buy a house without research and professional advice. Once purchased you need to maintain and develop it in order to protect or increase its value.
  3. You need to identify the various aspects of IP in the manifestation of your idea:

–       Copyright – automatically covers any creative output, but you need to prove you did it first.

–       Trademarks – your unique identifier for you business. Can be registered for ten years with the Intellectual Property Office or the EU for a Community Mark. Start with business name, might want to include your strap line. Need to develop a strategy, but budgetary restrictions are often a factor. If you have an established brand which can not be registered as it is descriptive you can use the ‘passing off’ laws to gain some protection.

–       Patents – a long, complicated and expensive process. Covers an inventive process. Must be completely new and secret, but if successful gives you a monopoly for 20 years. Can be licensed to others.

–       Designs – often overlooked, but relatively cheap and easy to register. Covers the shape of something and how it fits with something else. Does not have to be registered, but this gives more protection.

–       Database rights – relate to the organisation of information. Protection from staff walking away with customer lists etc.

–       Confidential information – take time to ensure you have the correct confidentiality agreement. How long will it need to last? Who does it cover? Be careful using standard agreements found on the internet.

2.      How is IP Infringed?

  1. Copy, publish, distribute
  2. Sell, rent, lend
  3. Produce, manufacture
  4. Perform, broadcast
  5. Adapt

3.      What is the Damage?

  1. Music industry claims 20% lost income due to piracy.
  2. Your reputation can be damaged – e.g. counterfeit goods which are poor quality
  3. Money – loss of IP eats into your income.
  4. Dilution of rights – e.g. by allowing its use to become generic you lose the value of your rights such as a trade mark.
  5. Weakened commercial position – will have an impact on potential partners, licence agreements.

4.      Protection = Preparation and Perception

  1. Mark and / or register – e.g. use copyright symbol.
  2. Insure – a growing field, especially in the field of products and patenting. Can cover legal fees to attack or defend from attack. Can help when going for investment.
  3. Monitor use – the IPO do not act as IP police. You have to check. Not difficult these days with the internet and search engines. Some trade mark attorneys offer this service.
  4. Take swift action – very important not to hang about, but don’t act rashly, get legal advice.
  5. Follow through – do you have the resources to follow up on original letter? Nine times out ten the initial letter and demands within it will work. In some cases your trade association can provide support.
  6. Make an example of someone who is blatantly abusing your IP.
  7. Get warranties from third parties you are working with.

5.      What if someone is infringing your IP?

  1. Identify
  2. Gather evidence – such as witness statements.
  3. Get insurance – can be bought after the event.
  4. Call a lawyer – better if you already have a relationship and they know you IP situation.
  5. Contact the infringer
  6. Make a claim
  7. Notify the authorities – some acts are illegal in addition to civil. E.g. counterfeiting goods.
  8. Settlement agreement – you may be able to work out a licensing deal.

6.      Defences – anticipating

  1. Dispute ownership or title – prove the IP is yours. E.g. in the film world need to ensure all aspects are covered.
  2. License to use – check the small print of original documentation.
  3. Lack of knowledge – if your work is not widely available it is possible the infringers have not copied your work, although they will still be in breach of your IP.
  4. Rights have expired or have been exhausted – can be a geographical factor.
  5. Jurisdiction – disputes may be taking place in other locations.
  6. Acquiescence – you haven’t used your registered trade mark for too long.

7.      What will you win?

  1. Stop infringement
  2. Seize copies
  3. Account for profits – example of Brats dolls dispute with Matel – $100 damages.
  4. Damages
  5. Criminal sanctions – e.g. Pirate Bay founders

8.      Practical steps

  1. Set up processes
  2. Keep an up to date record of your IP – don’t forget to renew trademarks
  3. Document your agreements
  4. Monitor the market place – be aware of IP use and trends in your market area.
  5. Build an aggressive reputation – lessons learnt from working for Rupert Murdoch.
  6. Publicising your success – e.g. when you make an example of an infringer.
  7. Research and take advice – sometimes you will need professional advice, build this into your plan.
  8. Have a strategy – always worth going through your IP assets even at a late stage.

 Audience comment: “For most companies ethics is a small county in the south east of England.”

Information Law with Charles Oppenheim


DSC_0021 by OneIS.
Picture from OneIS

A late night last Thursday due to attending an excellent talk by Professor Charles Oppenheim on information law. The event was the second in a series of talks organised by the wonderfully entrepreneurial information professional Jennifer Smith and sponsored by her OneIS company. Charles generously agreed to make his slides available on the One IS website

For his talk Charles cantered through a range of important and controversial topics, which was described as a chocolate box taster approach rather than an in depth analysis due to time constraints.

Having known Charles for many years I was already aware of his amazing ability – not only to bring what could be quite dry topics to life with amusing examples, but to explain really quite difficult subjects with clarity and brevity.

The topics covered were data protection, personal data, cloud computing, protecting your reputation online, disability discrimination, contracts and last, but by no means least, copyright.


Data protection

This is a notoriously difficult and worrying topic for information professionals, and in fact anyone whole collects data about people in the United Kingdom. It all stems from the Data Protection Act of 1998, and covers information about individuals ranging from the innocuous to highly sensitive. One curious exception to its provenance is financial information, and we spent some time during the lengthy questions and answers session at the end pondering why this might be the case. My theory is that the UK banks recognised the law would have a disruptive impact on their activities, and used their considerable influence to ring-fence this area.

The Data Protection Act is based on the following eight principles, all of which have legal status (either civil or criminal), and is regulated by an Information Commissioner:

  1. Personal data must be obtained fairly, and for a bona fide purpose.
  2. It can only be used for one or more purpose, which must be clearly specified.
  3. The data obtained must be adequate, relevant and not excessive. Charles gave a wonderful example of a town council who included a question on chest size on their form for all new employees. The reason they asked the question was to help them keep their stocks of overalls correct for those staff who did ‘dirty jobs’, such as dustmen and women. However, when a secretary complained about the question the council (and the vast majority elsewhere in the country) were forced to change their policy.
  4. The data must be accurate and up to date (where relevant).
  5. It should not be kept for longer than necessary. (This led to a discussion of the recent news story about the UK police being forced to delete their DNA records of innocent civilians after six years, instead of keeping them forever).
  6. The data should be processed in accordance of the rights of individuals, who retain the right to sue for inaccurate information.
  7. It must be protected from loss, damage or destruction.
  8. It must not be transferred outside the European Economic Area. (This led to a discussion of Google and Amazon data servers which are based in the United States).

Charles then went on to give brief overviews of five more information law topics:

1. Cloud Computing – In particular the risks of exporting or storing data outside of the European Economic Area. Many organisations are not aware that by using Google or Amazon S3 servers their data is being stored in the United States, and so in breach of UK law.

2. Protecting your reputation online:

–       This topic was about slander (temporary) and libel (published) where the reputation of an individual is harmed by false statements, to more than one ‘third’ party.

–       It only applies if there is a reputation to be harmed. So saying Jeffrey Archer is a crook would not be libellous.

–       An email to an individual is not libellous, but if it leaks out to others, then it becomes so.

–       This is a particularly thorny topic due to the big differences in libel law between countries, in particular between the United States and the UK. We currently have the strictest libel laws in the world.

–       Charles recommended regularly ‘Googling’ yourself to see what has been written about you online.

3. Disability discrimination – How you must make reasonable adjustments to cater for those with disabilities.

4. Contract law – This consists of five key elements. Offer and acceptance, consideration, intention to create legal relations, legal capacity and formalities. Charles reviewed the three levels of formality. 1. A verbal or email agreement (unlikely to accepted in court). 2. An email with a digital signature (generally accepted as binding). 3. An email with a signature and full encryption (full legal strength).

5. Copyright – Charles ended on this most complicated and controversial topic which led on to a lengthy question and answer session. He wanted to ensure we were all aware of the fact that just because content was freely available on the Internet, this did not mean it was not covered by copyright law. He recommended using sites such as Flickr which are covered under Creative Commons licences.

Copyright contacts for writers and artists a business advice session yesterday I was reminded how few entrepreneurs are aware of copyright law. Most do know a bit about patents, trademarks and designs, but when it comes to copyright they flounder.

Fortunately we have produced a very simple PDF guide (What is copyright?) with much more detailed information available from the UK Intellectual Property Office. The key points are that copyright protection is free and automatic (you don’t even need to use a copyright symbol). The point that most surprises people is that copyright for authors now extends to life plus 70 years.

However rather than hope the owners of the intellectual property won’t find out you have taken their property and come after you through the courts, a much better approach is to contact them and see if you can licence their content. Fortunately thanks to the WATCH file, tracking down these copyright holders is relatively straightforward.

For example a search for Roald Dahl author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (amongst many other children’s favourites) gives the following results;

Roald Dahl   1916-1990 – 3 contacts found in the WATCH File
David Higham Associates are the principal representatives. Some copyrights (mostly for poems by Dahl) are administered by Random House Children’s Books; and film and television rights are handled by Casarotto Ramsay.
Copyright Permissions   Casarotto Ramsay Limited  VIEW
The Estate of Roald Dahl   David Higham Associates Limited  VIEW
Children’s Permissions Department   Random House Children’s Books  VIEW

WATCH is a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent people in other creative fields. It is a joint project of the Harry Ransom Center and University of Reading Library in England. Founded in 1994 as a resource principally for copyright questions about literary manuscripts held in the U.S. and the U.K., it has now grown into one of the largest databases of copyright holders in the world.