Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

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Intellectual Property Reforms Prove Successful – From Zero To Hero

IP Reform is SuccessfulAn independent report commissioned by the IPO entitled Evaluation of the Reforms of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court 2010-2013 was published very recently examining the effect of the recent reforms in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), the former Patents County Court (PCC).

The primary objective of the recent changes were to improve the litigation procedures and reduce litigation costs and, as a result, to increase access to justice in IP matters with special focus on individual claimants and SMEs who struggled financially to fight IP cases. Yassine Lefouili, one of the co-authors of the report, affirms the positive developments following the changes resulting in qualitative and quantitative evidence that there has been large increase in the number of intellectual property cases.

Governmental support

Introducing the report, IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe praised the changes and confirmed that small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs now have better chances to actually defend their IP rights. This is good news, especially following a recent FSB research we wrote about in our article “SMEs And IP – FSB Reports They Struggle To Protect Their Intellectual Property” which revealed the struggle of SMEs and start ups to protect their IP.

The improvements come as a result of the costs cap and the 2010 active case management process. These amendments speed up the litigation process and also serve as an awareness tool for litigants to understand better their exposure before filing a claim. What is more, as Chloe Smith underlines for the Law Gazette, changes have opened up IPEC for patent and trade mark attorneys who are now able to represent their clients in court more often.

This suggests that reforms have paid off and, as the PatLit suggests, with the introduction of the Small Claims track we might as well have even better news in a following report.

Famous Marks – Trade Mark Classifications

Famous Marks – Trade Mark Classifications

Famous Marks – Trade Mark ClassificationsWhilst the classification rules apply to the majority of trademarks, famous marks operate under slightly different rules. A famous mark has a much broader scope of protection than an ordinary mark. This is due to its widespread reputation or recognition which means it is not subject to classification restrictions. It enjoys the same protection as if it had been registered in each of the 45 classes. This broad protection given to well-known marks is afforded by most industrialised countries.

A while ago we wrote about famous names as trade marks which have resulted in numerous high-profile disputes. The situation is no less complex and tricky today. The basic rules about famous marks are outlined on the INTA website. Essentially, the significance of the rules is that when you’re picking a new name for a product or service, you need to beware of adopting famous brand names such as Martini or Coca-Cola for your business. This is because even if you had nothing to do with drinks, and were in a completely different industry, Martini or Coca-Cola could stop you from using their name.

For example, although you might see multiples of the same name used for other brands, such as Polo, you will probably notice that there are no multiple Microsofts or Coca-Colas.

Marks that became famous long ago, or quickly, such as Twitter, or Google, are famous enough to Twitter drinkhave a complete monopoly over their name worldwide. There have been applications to register Twitter for wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks, as well as attempts at other categories. The objection to such applications is that by using the sign, the applicant is taking unfair advantage of the mark’s fame and its use could have a detrimental impact on the well-known trademark.

Trademark infringement and famous marks

For trademark infringement cases involving famous marks, the requirements for proving infringement are different from those found in other cases. Rather than having to prove that someone else’s use of a name is confusing to customers, the trademark owners instead have to show that the other user is ‘diluting’ their brand by ‘tarnishing’ or ‘blurring’ its famous mark. A case demonstrating how a famous mark is protected from being ‘tarnished’ involves Hasbro Inc.

Hasbro Inc. v. Internet Entertainment Group

One of Hasbro’s most popular games is a board game called ‘Candy Land’, which is targeted at young children and since 1949 has been advertised as a ‘child’s first game’. The whole design of the game was focused on using bright colours, and wholesome images, which helped make the games so popular. .

However, in 1995 Internet Entertainment Group (IEG) acquired the Internet domain name candyland.com, using it to launch a sexually explicit website. Hasbro launched a lawsuit against the company on the grounds of trademark infringement.

There is no danger of people confusing an adult entertainment site with a kid’s board game, so under normal trademark regulations Hasbro would not have been able to prevent IEG from using the Candy Land name.

The issue Hasbro was taking IEG to court over was that its use of the Candy Land name would tarnish Hasbro’s own trademark.

‘Dilution by tarnishment’ is defined as ‘the association arising from the similarity between a mark or trade name and a famous mark that harms the reputation of the famous mark’.

IEG lost the case, and was ordered to stop using the ‘Candy Land’ trademark and turn over the candyland.com domain to Hasbro. The outcome of the case was extremely costly for IEG as it had paid over $20,000 to acquire the domain name, and had spent an additional $150,000 on advertisements for the site.

Blurring

An action involving trademark dilution by blurring has to prove that the similarity between a mark and a famous trademark will damage the uniqueness of the original mark through blurring.

An example of blurring would be if a company were to start selling shoes under a famous name such as Kleenex. Again, in this case it would not matter if the two products had no chance of being confused, and that customers would realise each product is made by different entities. What matters in such cases is that the distinctiveness of the mark is lessened. No longer would people associate Kleenex only with the tissue company, but also with shoes, ‘blurring’ the famous mark.

What makes a mark ‘famous’?

Beyond household names the issue is not always straightforward. A mark may be well known in one country but not in another, and it depends on whether the public in the given territory is familiar with the mark.

Absolut Vodka v. Absolute Radio

An example of a case where a well-known mark failed to stop another business using its name is the drinks company V&S, Vin & Sprit, which owns the Absolut Vodka brand. It issued proceedings against Virgin’s Absolute Radio for trademark infringement and passing off on the basis that there was a risk of confusion with its brand. Absolute Radio was registered as a trademark in 2003, and Absolut was aiming to have the trademark revoked.

After 18 months of wrangling, a confidential settlement ensued whereby Absolute Radio was able to continue using the name.

In conclusion, avoid using the name of a mark that is well known in the country in which you intend using it, otherwise you could be required to rebrand even if you have secured trademark, domain or company registrations.

Multimillion Apple Dispute Over ‘iWatch’ Trade Mark

‘iWatch’ Trade Mark – Apple In Multimillion Dispute

shutterstock_472863_jpgIn April this year Apple released their newest product – the Apple Watch. Only a few months after the release date a petition was filed in a Milan court accusing Apple of violating the iWatch trade mark. You may recall that in 2012 the tech giant agreed to pay $60m to Chinese firm Proview to settle a dispute involving rights to the “iPad” name. Now another high-profile dispute is on its way.

The dispute

On 26 June an Irish sAppleWatchoftware development company Probendi filed an urgent procedure concerning Apple’s use of the name owned by them – iWatch. Although their “iDevices” have been very popular, Apple did not use this name for their watch. It seems they have learnt their lesson from 2012 because their innovative watch is in fact called ‘Apple watch’. They probably knew this name was already owned by another company. The problem is not, therefore, in the name of the product.

Apple has, however, used the ‘iWatch’ name in another way. In our blog Bidding on competitors’ trademark in Adwords we wrote about Adwords and trade mark infringement. Both issues seem relevant in this dispute as well. It is a fact that Apple paid for Google AdWords to use the term ‘iWatch’. When users search for iWatch on Google, they are directed to Apple’s store even though this was not the actual name of this product. As Probendi’s petition claimed, “Apple has systematically used iWatch wording on Google search engine in order to direct customers to its own website advertising Apple Watch.”

Probendi’s plans

While Apple managed to settle with the Chinese company Proview and buy out the rights in the ‘iPad’ name, it is more likely than not that they will not succeed to do this with Probendi.

Probendi co-founder and CEO Daniele Di Salvo said the company had warned Apple against using this term.

It is expected that the Irish company will take full advantage of its registered trade mark. Di Salvo said his company plans to develop their own ‘smart watch’ which will run on Android and have a touchscreen display too. It is not difficult to guess what its name would be. Probendi’s iWatch will benefit from all must-have features and undercut the Apple Watch in price.

Bloomberg reports about an audit conducted by Barzano & Zanardo valuing the iWatch trademark at €87 million ($97 million) – significantly more than the $60 million Apple paid Proview.

Google’s approach

Many companies have tried to challenge Google or its advisers over trademark use but more often than not these actions have been unsuccessful. Google’s policy terms for its ad service states that trade mark complaints are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and that certain restrictions may be enforced. Probendi’s lawyer has said no action was taken by either Apple or Google following their requests and objections.

It is fascinating to explore how powerful the right branding strategy could be – out of curiosity I asked a number of my friends what they thought the name of Apple’s watch was. Unsurprisingly, all of them were convinced it was ‘iWatch’. That’s the power of strong intellectual property and excellent marketing strategy.

Even though Apple tried not to repeat the mistake from 2012, Techradar summarise the issue by saying that “Apple is being sued for not using the iWatch name”. We will be expecting more information on 11 November when the hearing Is scheduled.

So far when you type ‘iWatch’ into Google search, the top result will be an ad for the Apple Watch followed by link to the Apple’s website.

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SMEs and IP - FSB Reports They Struggle To Protect Their Intellectual Property

SMEs And IP – FSB Reports They Struggle To Protect Their Intellectual Property

SMEs and IP - FSB Reports They Struggle To Protect Their Intellectual PropertyA recent research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that the price to be paid by UK’s small firms and start up businesses to protect their intellectual property would very often cost them their ability to develop and innovate.

That is because taking care of your IP is costly and time-consuming and businesses often find the instruments provided by the IPO to help secure IP rights too hard to use. As discussed in our Guide For Start Ups Part 1 and Part 2, protecting intellectual property is crucial for the UK’s growing knowledge economy, and it is questionable whether companies should be directed to do the work themselves.

Many companies suffer losses because they do not effectively protect their range of IP rights.

The research surveyed more than 1,000 of FSB’s 200,000 members. Only 32% had actually spent money to secure their IP rights within the last five years, 22% of whom invested more than £5,000. These figures speak about the lack of awareness of SMEs as to the importance of IP protection for their businesses and how much damage it could cause. More importantly, around 25% of the businesses surveyed responded that they have suffered some form of violation or misuse of their IP and a third of them took no action over the theft because of lack of resources and information as to the correct routes and costs involved.

Unregistered rights

Interestingly, most of the infringements outlined are related to unregistered rights like copyright. This underlines the severity of the problem, namely that SMEs and start ups are not aware of the significance of their IP rights for their businesses, hence their passive attitude towards protecting them. They need to be “educated” on these issues and learn how to protect them so they can profit from their intangible assets. Once they realise this is possible, it will then make sense for them to take actions against perpetrators. Currently, only a small portion of those questioned acted upon IP infringement.

The FSB chairman, John Allan has also underlined this issue by stating that ‘The knowledge economy, which runs on innovative ideas and brands, is becoming ever more critical to our economic success. Left unchecked, theft and infringement of ideas, patents and brand costs small businesses and diminishes their appetite to invest in their business, ultimately hampering the UK’s long-term economic growth.’

The proper protection of IP is a “mainstream issue which deserves a mainstream focus”, continues Allan. Therefore, we need effective tools to help secure and protect intellectual property rights.

IPO tools

The Intellectual Property Office has addressed this problem by putting in place various tools and services to deal with the effective protection of IP. The IPO’s mediation service, the IP Enterprise Court’s small claims track and the intellectual property finance toolkit are good examples. And yet SMEs find them too costly or difficult to work with. The FSB is advocating for simplification in order to encourage a proactive approach to IP by SMEs and start ups.

The onus is on the Government to better promote the IP services available and install effective instruments that will enable adequate protection. Back in 2011, the Hargreaves Review suggested that “there are outstanding uses that need to be resolved” Therefore, there is a need for a collective action to resolve this problem.

On the one hand, those who are aware of the strength that IP brings it, should promote this idea persuasively, and, on the other hand, the Government, the IPO and other institutions need to make sure they provide the most effective tools for this to happen. In the end, the benefit will be for all of us – because in UK’s growing knowledge economy, businesses increasingly rely on their intangible assets. And more often than not do these assets turn out to be more profitable than the tangibles.

Arbitration As An Alternative Dispute Resolution Method in IP – Pros and Cons

Arbitration As An Alternative Dispute Resolution Method In IP – Pros And Cons

Arbitration As An Alternative Dispute Resolution Method in IP – Pros and ConsWith the recent launch of the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s (Ipso) consultation into setting up a pilot arbitration service to widen access to justice, it is interesting to consider the advantages of arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution method.

Arbitration has increased its popularity in recent years, and could be very advantageous in IP matters due to its flexibility, private and confidential nature.

Before agreeing to use arbitration to resolve a dispute, it’s important to explore the pros and cons of the option. The main arguments in favour of arbitration in IP disputes include:

+        Privacy

When it comes to IP, especially with trademarks and patents, companies with rich IP portfolios have an incentive to keep any dispute private so that their IP does not suffer in any way. One of the perceived advantages of arbitration is its confidentiality. Parties can keep the nature of their dispute and all other details private. This is essential in some IP disputes especially when sensitive and secret information is involved. For example, in a dispute relating to a trade secret or a patent, a lot of confidential matters will be discussed. In such circumstances, it would be crucial for the owner of the IP to keep the matter private and confidential and make sure any business secrets remain hidden.

Of course, it should be noted that courts in civil litigation would also treat particularly sensitive information as confidential as well, and in this sense there will not be huge difference between both.

Another consideration is that parties could adopt strategies and measures that wouldn’t be available to them if the dispute were public in case it would be harmful or embarrassing to their reputation. In that way a party could act unfairly or inequitably, and yet be awarded the relevant remedy.

Still, one of the main advantages when it comes to arbitration is the very high level of confidentiality of the dispute it guarantees. This is fundamentally crucial for businesses whose reputation and future success are primarily based on intellectual property.

+        Flexibility and better price

Arbitration brings with it the choice of jurisdiction, arbitrator, and language and by doing so ensures an impartial and neutral process. The chosen arbitrator would be an expert in the field. And in a technical and specialised field such as IP, it is important to have someone with industry knowledge to have the competence to decide the matter. However, in jurisdictions where the court systems provide experts in the IP field, this advantage of the arbitration system would not be that significant. What is more, sometimes the act of choosing the arbitrator could lead to suspicion of bias and unfair outcome.

It is also suggested that arbitration is a better option from a financial point of view and is less time consuming as well. The International Survey on Dispute Resolution in Technology Transactions concluded that survey participants spent significantly more time and had higher costs in court litigation than in arbitration and mediation. In US terms this means that in courts parties spent approximately three years and $475,000 while arbitration lasted only a year and cost around $400,000 (WIPO, 2013). However, linking this to my next point, often the length of the dispute could be a reason for the increased cost of arbitration. For example, sometimes it takes from six to nine months just for the arbitration panel to be settled.

+        Shortened procedure

Generally, it is said that arbitration is much faster than court proceedings and there is practical evidence for this as mentioned above. This is due to various reasons related to the characteristics of arbitration one of which could include one of its disadvantages, namely the finality of appeal.

And although it is assumed that arbitration is usually the faster dispute resolution method, there are some arbitration cases which have lasted so long that arbitrators retired and were replaced by their colleagues. This is because the longer the dispute, the higher the price.

These were the main reasons why parties decide to go ahead with arbitration. But one needs to be fully aware of the contra-arguments related to this method. The negative side of arbitration is related more to the consequences flowing from that choice of ADR.

-          Not necessarily that cheap and quick

At first arbitration may seem the better choice from a financial point of view especially if the court litigation is as pricy as in the UK. And in many instances it would be. However, as already mentioned, some disputes may last for so long so as to incur costs leading to bankruptcy of a business. Therefore, one needs to explore the options in detail, bear in mind this danger and consult with a professional as to what the impact for the business could be. And in the context of IP, where IP rights are all a business has as an asset, it is likely that the business gets in trouble simply because it is too difficult to evaluate IP rights and use them as a collateral for a loan for example. And it could end up in a situation where the business does not have the money to proceed with arbitration.

-          Finality of appeal

In contrast to court proceedings, arbitration does not give the parties an opportunity to appeal a decision. That is, the decision of the arbitrator is final and binding and that would be the end of the matter. This is of fundamental significance and should be acknowledged when the decision to agree to arbitration is taken. And the chances to be satisfied by the arbitrator’s decision are as high as the chances not to be. Therefore, one needs to balance the pros and cons and decide whether to take the risk.

To summarise this brief outline of pros and cons for arbitration, it is crucial to say that arbitration could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it could be helpful for your business especially where reputational issues are at stake. However, on the other hand, it could be a big risk to take especially for SMEs with small IP portfolios who may not be able to bear the eventual high cost of arbitration.

What will be of the future of 3D trade marks?

3D Trademarks – No Breaks For Kit-Kat

What will be of the future of 3D trade marks? The latest in Nestlé’s attempts to trademark its iconic four-finger chocolate is at odds with EU Law.

Back in 2012 we reported in our blog Can you trademark a colour? that Cadbury had managed to secure a trademark for its signature purple colour after a lengthy battle with Nestlé. If you have been following the race for confectionary supremacy between Nestlé and Cadbury, you will know that in 2013 Nestlé successfully blocked Cadbury from maintaining its trademark rights in the colour purple ‘pantone 2865c’ for its Dairy Milk chocolate bar.

Cadbury’s application did not meet the criteria of a trademark, namely that ‘predominantly’ purple was not specific enough and lacked objectivity for the purpose of registration. See here.

Nestlé are set to see a similar fate in the latest turn of events.

What does this mean for the future of 3D shape marks?

Yesterday it was reported that the Advocate-General (AG) has advised that the Nestlé’s application for the three-dimensional ‘Kit-Kat’ shape is not compliant with EU law.  Although not an official ruling, it poses a serious threat to the future of three dimensional trademarks.

Life in 3D

Three dimensional trademarks are notoriously difficult to register. Why? Because a registered trademark grants perpetual monopoly rights and, because, the registration of these marks provide an enormous advantage in highly competitive markets where products are homogenous or differ only by a few features.

Having a trademark means that no one else can use the same or similar shape for the same or similar goods. This is generally considered anti-competitive.

To this extent, shape marks play a crucial role in the multi-dimensional aspect of a brand’s distinctive character. A trademark acts as an agent of a commercial strategy, and shapes are one of the foundations to a successful marketing campaign.

In our piece about ‘Coca Cola Bottle Granted Trademark Protection in Japan’ we mentioned the Coca-Cola bottle, which seems to be one of the few shapes on the market which has been able to achieve trademark protection in many different countries. It only takes a few moments to think of that bottle and realise how many international campaigns, advertisements and references are based on this one shape.

To be or not be?

In a recent article by the Guardian, Iain Connor, head of Pinsent Masons’ contentious IP practice, stated that the AG’s “opinion is entirely consistent with the court’s previous refusal to grant trademark protection for Lego bricks and so comes as no surprise.”

It is not so clear cut, however. The general rules are that you can’t register a 3D mark, even if it has acquired a level of distinctiveness, if:

1. The shape results from the nature of the goods, i.e. you’d have a hard time registering the shape of a banana for bananas;

2. The shape is necessary to obtain a technical function; and

3. The shape adds substantial value to the goods. (What this value is, is inconclusive).

Lego had failed to register its toy bricks because the shape was necessary to connect one brick to another. Philips had failed to register its 3 headed shaver for similar functional reasons. On the other hand, the triangular Toblerone pack enjoys trademark protection which, arguably, makes it easier to package the confectionary in bulk. Is that not a technical function? Chrysler were also able to register the front ‘seven slot’ grill of their Jeep vehicle which, in the author’s opinion, serves the technical function of cooling the engine. The court’s interpretation of these ‘exotic’ trademarks is therefore far from consistent.

To draw the distinction is a conceptually difficult task. For instance, the shape of a chocolate bar with ridged indents is no less necessary to break the fingers off than a Toblerone is good for stacking; a Cola bottle is useful for containing Coca-Cola; and the holes in the front of your car prevent your engine from exploding.

The argument put forward by Cadbury was that without the branding and logo the shape was not distinctive enough to warrant a trademark. However, a street survey revealed that 90% of consumers recognised the chocolate bar (without its packaging) as a ‘Kit-Kat’.

If it is all about packaging, however, then the court offers no less abstract guidance. Last summer, Apple Inc. were able to trademark the layout of their store. The CJEU came to the conclusion that, somehow, the Apple store is equivalent to ‘packaging’. See here at para. 16.

The author’s view is that the ruling (whilst a coincidently accurate metaphor for corporate culture) defies the whole point of specificity and objectivity. Not all Apple stores are the same, and if the design alone is such that it presents the services provided, then does Cadbury’s ‘predominantly’ purple ‘packaging’ or Nestlé’s four-finger chocolate bar not present ‘Dairy Milk’ and ‘Kit-Kat’ in much the same way?

The ‘certain’ circumstances for registration 3D trademarks are not so certain after all.

Trademarks unchained

Shape marks are construed narrowly because of the commercial power which they yield. However, to what extent does a company have to sacrifice its distinctiveness for the good of its competitors?

Modern advertising and marketing practices now incorporate far more than your standard bill-board and infomercial. Companies are awakening to the fact that the most powerful advertiser is the consumer himself. The one who is inadvertently a brand ambassador carrying ‘lifestyle’ products for the world to see.

The shape of a product is therefore more important than ever before. It helps preserve the individuality of the product and uniqueness of its brand and it creates something completely different from the myriad of the commonplace. Sooner or later, a reform of trademark law will need to take into consideration this new function of trademarks.

 

Azrights #Foodporn

Intellectual Property & Food Photography – 3 Steps To Innovation

What are you doing with your food?

We all have something to say when it comes to food but the real question is what are you doing with it? Other than eating it of course, the movers and shakers of the digital age have found innovative ways to give you more than just a culinary experience.

Recently we wrote about ‘Is Posting Photos On Twitter A Breach Of Chef’s IP?‘ where we explored the relatively new phenomenon of taking pictures of the food we eat while at restaurants. Albeit commonplace, many restaurants, particularly some chefs, have seen this as an appropriation of their intellectual property.

1.       Identify your intellectual property and where its value lies

In our post ‘Is Posting Photos On Twitter A Breach Of Chef’s IP?‘ we looked at what intellectual property elements are involved in making and preparing food, as well as taking photos of it. We concluded that intellectual property will not protect your meal because of the underlying element of fixation that is required in order to be able to define what it is you are trying to protect. You can’t eat someone’s copyright nor would you expect to eat their trade mark, as Lord Justice Jacob expressed in his ruling referring to Bongrain’s cheese trade mark application.

Sombre news as it may be for some, others in the industry have taken advantage of the phenomenon, embracing innovation and turning it into profitable opportunities.

2.       Don’t do what everyone else is doing, take advantage of what it is they are doing!

In the last couple of months we’ve stumbled across some truly innovative ideas. Israeli based winery ‘Carmel Winery’ have come up with an interesting take of photographing your food with a viewing to uploading it onto social media. It is called: Foodography, and it is a project born by the “art of food image capture using a smartphone”. In essence, it involves a series of specially designed plates which (are protectable through Design law) allow you to take the most artistic image of your meal possible using your smartphone, see the how it works here.

Those of a more traditional disposition may see this concept as completely bizarre, however, it is more than just a mere gimmick. A recent article in business insider reveals that some chefs are embracing this digital phenomenon, also known as #Foodporn, and using it to their advantage. A good food shot can result in increased publicity and bookings for the restaurant. Certainly those restaurants equipped with specially designed plates that turn every amateur using their phone into a professional food photographer, and critic, wield a lot of commercial power.

3.       Go the extra mile

The trail doesn’t stop there, however. A new app developed by Google can now count the number of calories in your food through your Instagram photos. Im2Calories incorporates artificial intelligence which uses algorithms to estimate the number of calories in your food photos. Unlike the food you eat, this software is protectable by copyright and patent legislation. The real challenge is how big can you stretch your idea?

One thing is certain, the #Foodporn revolution is real and companies are commercialising it. The key is to understand where the value of your idea lies. Chances are that your winning recipe will only be half the ticket. Your appetite for innovation on the other hand extends the commercial opportunity beyond mere gustatory and olfactory senses.

Image rights

Image Rights – How Much Control Do You Have Over Your Image?

Image rightsLast week, the Republic of Ireland readied themselves to vote on what was, for a catholic state, a very controversial referendum; yes or no to gay marriage. The BBC reported here how one family in particular had other controversial concerns about the referendum for an altogether different yet important reason.

This family, unknown to them, were made the “poster boy” of the No campaign. In 2014 they had signed up for a free family photoshoot. In return the family provided consent for the photographer to sell these photos on stock image websites. Their photo was displayed amongst many other seemingly similar photos.  The family felt unfortunate to have been selected for this purpose.

Although the family morally disagree with the use of their stock photo for the No campaign they accept there is nothing they can do to prevent use of their image in this way.

There are many considerations to be made when assigning or licencing your rights; not only in relation to use of your image but also when granting permission for others to use your music, literature and branding materials such as trade marks and logos.

Not giving enough thought to the implications of a licence or an assignment can have unintended effects financial consequences as well sometimes, so take care to consider documents you are asked to sign carefully and if you aren’t sure seek legal advice.

Which tech city will you start your start-up

Startups – Where Will The Next Tech City Be Located?

Which tech city will you start your start-up

Now that the Conservatives have gained another term in government it is likely that they will press ahead with many of their pledges. Of particular interest are the proposals set out in George Osborne’s recent Budget Plan for 2015.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has offered a series of measures to support the technology sector, including:

  • £11m in tech hubs in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield
  • £60m in energy research to develop energy technologies of the future
  • Funding to develop a financial technology incubator in Leeds

He has also offered greater incentives such as tax breaks for video games makers, £100m for automotive groups working on driverless car technology and a £40m in investment into research into the “internet of things”.

In summary, the 2015 budget offers a substantial investment for the technology sector and a real opportunity for entrepreneurs and enterprises to gain a foothold in our increasingly profitable technology sector.

Where is the next tech city?

When it comes to commercialising your concepts there are a lot of factors that play into the overall success of an enterprise. One of them is being in the right place at the right time. So, a few things to look out for when assessing the market landscape are:

Location of Growth Opportunities:

A survey of the digital economy by Tech City UK has found that 74 per cent of companies and 85 per cent of workers are now located outside the capital. With rent prices increasing in London, the surge in competition and tight venture capital practices, the North sets to be a go-to destination for those who wish to keep costs low and take advantage of government investment. For those entrepreneurs in the FinTech sectors this is notable. With the industry growing from $4Bn in 2013 to $12Bn to 2014, you may want to consider nestling up in Leeds where a new FinTech incubator is on the cards as it may well become the hotbed for investors in the near future. For those who like the sea, consider Bournemouth and Liverpool which have already outstripped London in terms of growth while the Midlands is set to be home to new energy technology research hubs.

Increased Revenue:

So far Greater Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, inner London and South Wales are home to tech clusters. However, about 90% of all digital companies in the UK, which are mostly small and medium-sized, expect revenue growth this year. For would be investors and those looking to set up shop it is important that opportunities outside of London’s silicon roundabout should also be considered. .

Consolidating Market Position:

Depending on your business, operating from London might limit your opportunities as there will be increased competition or limited regional capacity. Branching out may help you consolidate your market position but could also help in minimising your competition in the long run.

Fortifying your domestic position by taking advantage of this significant investment may also have a positive effect on international opportunities. Currently, the Euro is very weak and given competitive prices and the rate of growth, this may attract a lot of foreign investment, which everyone should keep an eye out for.