Thursday, 26 April 2012

Kate Reid at the Leeds Inventors Group 18.4.12

The Leeds inventors group welcomed Kate Reid of Pemberton Reid solicitors who gave a fascinating talk about confidentiality and licensing to a enthusiastic group.

Kate talked about why you should use a confidentiality agreement (non disclosure agreement) when discussing your ideas with 3rd parties and the importance of having an agreement in writing rather than just relying on a verbal agreement.  Kate explained that having a written agreement imposes a duty of confidentiality and gives you a right to enforce it – it also acts as a warning. Using a non disclosure agreement can allow you to explore whether or not a potentially patentable idea could be manufactured and even if it might have a market by enabling you to talk to 3rd parties in confidence.

Kate explained that you should decide exactly which elements of what you are discussing are to be kept confidential and for how long (it is best not to limit this) and also what the information can be used for ie. prototyping, experiments and testing or market research, it is also worth stating what the information may not be used for.

Kate then went on to talk about licensing agreements, again her advice was to always enter into a written agreement and she told us that there is no standard form of license - there is no right or wrong and whatever you agree on is okay.

There are however standard elements that you should consider when drawing up a licensing agreement these include:

Exclusivity – is the license non exclusive or exclusive , is it a sole license ?

Territory – which territories should the license cover? does the licensee have experience in all territories , do they have contacts?

Duration / Termination – should the license be for a fixed period which is then reviewed? or will a longer period be required for the launch of a new product?

Just as important when drawing up a licensing agreement you need to consider how to get out of the agreement if the licensee is in breech of the agreement or is not performing – do you add in a notice period?

Royalty payments – are you going to have percentage? A fixed fee? Anything up front or a lump sum?  Consider when the payments should be paid – do you want monthly payments? Quarterly? What happens if you don’t get paid? 
You should also consider how you will know if the figures the licensee is giving you are accurate – do you reserve the right to look at their accounts? What records do they need to keep and do you reserve the right to inspect all of their records?
It is worth thinking about what the minimum quantities are acceptable and if those minimums aren’t reached what the consequences are.

Infringement / IP maintenance – it is important to decide who will pay for the maintenance of patents , trade marks etc. even if the licensee is paying make sure that they aren’t responsible for renewing.  It is also important to decide who is responsible for taking action in the case of infringement of your IP and also for any claims by 3rd parties .  You may also want to include the use or limit of use of any trade marks within the license agreement and to sort out who gets the goodwill that is generated by the use of any trade marks.

Termination of the license period – consider making provision for limiting the time that a licensee has to sell stock or make it a condition that they destroy any remaining stock and marketing materials at the end of the license.  You could reserve the right to buy back stock.

Kate explained that using a professional to draw up a licensing agreement doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive – if you have thought about what you want to have included in the agreement the price could be around £400-£700 depending on the complexity of the agreement and could be a very well worthwhile investment.

Two representatives from Airedale Fab Lab which has just opened in Keighley – Raf and Dave came along to tell the group a little bit about the facilities available to inventors at the newest Fablab and invited the group for a tour.

So we are pleased to announce that next months inventors group meeting on the 16th May will be at Fablab in Keighley more details to follow.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Fab Lab Airedale Now Open.......

Come along to Leeds Central Library's Enterprise Club The spring / summer series starts on Monday April 30th 6pm - 7.45pm

Thinking of starting a business?
Come along to Leeds Central Library's Enterprise Club
The spring / summer series of talks starts on
Monday April 30th
6pm - 7.45pm

Topic - Is starting a business right for you?

The Enterprise club provides an opportunity to network and access information, support and advice on starting and running a business from set-up onwards.

Spring / Summer topics and dates below
The workshops are open to anyone thinking about setting up their own business or becoming self employed.

To find out more and book into the workshops contact:

Business and Patent Information Services
Tel: 0113 2478266

The Enterprise Club runs at:
Leeds Central Library
3rd Floor Meeting Room
Calverley Street


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

John Biddleston at the Leeds Inventors Group 18th Jan 2012

John is a teacher with a background in engineering and product design. For the last couple of years he has been running his own company “The Big Consultant” and specialises in 3D CAD design.

John pointed out that when you’re developing a product you need to think about what you’ve got as a business idea rather than as an invention – you need to have something which people will want to buy. It needs to have a use, a purpose and preferably be relatively simple to manufacture and assemble. It’s important to think ahead to such things as cost of tooling. The more complex it is the more costly it will be. Manufacturers will also be interested in the possibility of versions 2 and 3 etc of a product. Obsolescence is often built in to a product so that people will buy the improvement.

It’s also important to plan your patenting strategy. His view is that you can patent something too early – you could spend a significant amount on filing a patent and then find that you need to change it. The other tactic would be to develop the idea and product further – using confidentiality agreements where necessary so that when you do come to patent the product you’re sure that it’s in a more final form and you know how it’s going to work. Potential partners – whether they be manufacturers, finance providers or any others - generally don’t like to take risks so if your product is more advanced and there’s less work for them to do on it it will be more attractive.

He also pointed out the importance of patent searching in the early stages of developing a new product so that you’re aware of any prior art which might cause you a problem. Using a patent attorney is advantageous in getting the terminology right when you draw up your patent specification as the wording is critical – and of course, not everything is patentable.

John advocates drawing up what he calls a strategic product plan (which he makes available on his blog). This is like a business plan which considers such things as finance and tries to anticipate the questions of potential manufacturers, accountants etc. It’s vital to plan ahead because, apart from anything else, any partners who are considering investing in your product will want to know how and when they can expect to get their money back, and how well-organised you are. Of course it’s also vital to be aware of the market you’re going in to – nobody will invest in you unless you’re aware of this.

Above all else, he said patience is vital. Getting a new product to market is a long road and is likely to take a considerable time.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Objective Productions, the makers of ‘The Cube’ (ITV) and ‘Derren Brown’ (C4) are looking for British inventors to take part in a major new Sky series. If your invention is struggling to get off the ground, has been languishing at the back of your shed or you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall in how far you can take it, we want to hear from you! We want to give those amazing inventions the platform they so rightfully need. This series is a call to arms for inventors across the land, to inspire innovators to stand up and bring their work to life. We want Britain to get inventing. If you have an invention that you want the public to know about, get in touch with us at; 020 7202 2374 Our production is committed to the protection of confidentiality. No material filmed will be broadcast – or non-public domain details of inventions disclosed – without the prior written permission of the people and products being filmed. We respect the privacy of individuals, and particularly the sensitivity of issues surrounding intellectual property. We will be happy to send out a standard non-disclosure agreement to protect non-publicly accessible material if you deem it appropriate.