Dan spent a number of years in industry working as an engineer for some of the largest firms such as Rover Cars & Marconi Communications. During this time he invented several engineering products himself. He then worked for a large firm of patent attorneys in Birmingham before setting up his own company – Ogive.
He briefly talked about intellectual property in general and the different types of protection available. Confidentiality is, of course, one of the easiest to get but it is difficult to commercialise a product without giving information away and it is impossible to gain any formal protection – such as a patent – without making details of the invention public.
He stressed that it is important to understand that a patent is a negative right. Having a patent granted does not in itself give you the right to produce a product only to stop others doing so - there may be other issues involved such as regulatory approval or other prior patents which may potentially be infringed.
A patent is a means to generate income, licence a product, sell a product and obtain research contracts. Dan used a number of case studies to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of patents and intellectual property generally.
The talk resulted in a lively debate and a series of questions from the audience who were clearly at differing stages and levels of experience with regard to the patenting process.