THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

Introduction

This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

Royal Wedding designer inspiration: quirky and creative merchandise you may actually want to buy (and keep)

Millions of people around the world are counting down to it, their hearts and imaginations captivated by the sheer scale and exuberance of the event: the appeal of royal weddings is irresistible. But when an actress quits Hollywood to marry a prince, this is truly the stuff fairy tales are made of.

Naturally, there are a lot of businesses that have tried to tap into what is shaping up to be the wedding of the year. Merchandise galore fuels the spending spree: but despite the multitude of memorabilia available to fans worldwide, it can be incredibly hard to find original and quirky merchandise to commemorate the occasion. You know, something you might actually want to buy.

With Prince Harry and Meghan-mania in full swing, we've asked three businesses that scaled up through our Innovating for Growth programme to share what they have done to mark the Royal Wedding. And how they got the inspiration for their incredibly creative alternative souvenir ranges: from quirky socks to collectibles raising funds for The Windsor Homeless Project.

 

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So Over It Commemorative Plate by Modern Chintz, available at We built This City

 

Alice, founder of revolutionary souvenir shop We Built This City championing creativity in London's Carnaby Street: As soon as the engagement was announced, we spotted a fantastic opportunity to position We Built This City as the home of alternative Royal Wedding souvenirs with every purchase also supporting London's creatives. 

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Our unique collection has been curated with both tourists and Londoners in mind, especially those throwing a party this weekend and who have a sense of humour around all the media madness! 

For those a little overwhelmed by the hype, we're selling commemorative plates 'mistakenly' featuring Meghan marrying Ed Sheeran, Lydia Leith's now famous Sick Bags and 'No Bank Holiday' Notes.

 

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Royal Wedding Sick Bag by Lydia Leith, available at We built This City

Alongside the more humorous pieces, our artists have created a really fresh and contemporary set of souvenirs that celebrate the youthful and fun nature of Harry and Meghan. And for our customers throwing parties on the day of the wedding, we're offering Royal Wedding themed biscuits, chocolate, tea, Royal Bingo and of course a Queen's Head Jelly Mould!

 

 

To celebrate in-store, we've also commissioned an artist duo Crispin Finn to create a Royal Wedding themed storefront. Their installation is called 'Together Forever' and is a nod to the royal nuptials as well as to the strength of our creative community. This has been a great PR driver for us and has been captured by the 15 international TV crews who've come to interview us since we launched the collection. 

Alice also stocks other fellow Innovating for Growth businesses' souvenirs in her Carnaby Street shop: Chattyfeet's quirky royal sock range and Victoria Eggs' beautiful British designs.

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ChattyFeet's Kate Middle-Toe in front of Victoria Eggs' Royal Wedding Canvas Bag

 

 

Gil, co-founder of funky and fun ChattyFeet socks guaranteed to put a smile on your face: Here at ChattyFeet, we’re really excited about the royal wedding and decided to go on a special sock tour around London! Kate Middle-Toe and the Sock Queen were discussing whether wearing ChattyFeet to the wedding will be allowed. We certainly hope that people won’t have to sacrifice their creativity for the sake of royal etiquette…

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A royal cuppa with the Sock Queen and Kate Middle-Toe

Many people got in touch with us via email, Instagram and Twitter asking whether Meghan socks are coming next. We’re considering this very seriously and created a long list of pros and cons that we’re still debating as we speak…

 

 

Victoria, founder of Victoria Eggs playful homeware and gifts inspired by a love of all things British: We are very excited to have launched a range of commemorative gifts to celebrate the Royal Wedding, all of which are proudly made in Britain.

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Victoria wearing the Royal Wedding Apron

The design features beautifully illustrated rose garlands, wedding bells and Windsor Castle, along with the names of the happy couple, date and location. The collection of gifts includes a mug, tea towel, apron and canvas bag, all attractively packaged to create perfect Royal Wedding souvenirs.

When starting the design I wanted to create something that that was traditional with a modern twist: I began by drawing Windsor castle, a Queen’s Guard and Union Jack, and included roses which are the national flower of England. The finishing touch was placing four church bells ringing out over the celebration of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding below! 

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More of Victoria Eggs' Royal Wedding range available at Harrods

If you're in London, take a trip down to Harrods where you can find Victoria's beautiful souvenirs. If not, check out the online shop guaranteed to brighten up your day with a great selection of elegant yet fun British-made home wares.

 

Are you an ambitious business owner looking to scale up like Alice, Gil or Victoria? If so, Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality. Find out more and apply now!

ERDF

 

Ewa Domaradzka, Commercial Marketing Manager 

 

09 May 2018

Unleash Your Imagination With A Creative WordPress Blog

10289836_10152031295746437_1063345659468432057_nThe digital landscape is driven by an attention economy: whoever can hold the attention and capture the excitement of website visitors will benefit most. Blogging is the ultimate way to create a space online that is entirely yours. Our partners at UK2 have created this handy Guide to creating a WordPress blog to help you get started with a platform that is flexible enough to capture your creativity.

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In an always-on digital space, creativity and imagination is rewarded. An aesthetically pleasing, fully functional blog is a terrific place to let your innovation run rampant. Luckily for us, WordPress is just the tool!

Why Choose WordPress?

How your content is presented is just as important as the words you write. Before you get started on your blogging adventure, consider these important points:

1. First Impressions Are Everything

Website visitors have very little patience when it comes to page load. They want appealing, professional websites in seconds, if not, they will move to the next flashing light. This means that you need a blog that looks great and performs well. Speed is important in an on-demand world. Once you have WordPress installed, you can choose to build your own website from scratch or purchase a template for a one-off fee. Remember that online readers have very short attention spans. But WordPress has thousands of suitable, ready-made templates for you to choose from, each one optimised for speed and functionality. Take a look at some of our favourite templates here.

2. Get Social!

Once your creative blog is ready for action, social media is the perfect way to get the word out. As a social creature it would be remiss of you if you failed to tap into the ocean of connectivity provided by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. WordPress understands this necessary avenue and makes it easy to connect to social media platforms with one easy click. Easy social sharing buttons make it simple for website visitors to create posts and share your brilliant content.

3. Updating Your Blog: Complete Control

There is nothing more frustrating than not having control over your own websites. Creativity is stifled by restrictions or limited options. WordPress makes sure that the power is in your hands, so you can make changes or update anytime and from anywhere. With a user-friendly backend system, WordPress lets your imagination go wild with colours, fonts, themes and layouts. You have total power to create!

4. Endless Possibilities

WordPress is “open source”, which means that the source code is available for anyone to see and contribute to. Because of this, the options for your new blog are endless. Brilliant techies around the world have been testing and creating amazing little plugins for your website called “widgets”. These terrific little bundles of code instantly add new abilities to your website. For example, if you want your website visitors to be able to sign up for your amazing newsletter, a widget can help you accomplish it.

5. Room To Grow

You are excited and ambitious about your new blog, which means it probably won’t be a secret for long. If down the road you decide that you need to expand to meet your readers’ demands, WordPress can help you with a few clicks! You can easily add an online shop or a multi-page website. You can even offer a booking service for website visitors to book appointments. With WordPress, the options are endless.

WordPress is easy to use and has the flexibility and power you need to create a successful blog. The only real question left is: what are you waiting for?

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Enjoy a special British Library discount voucher with 50% OFF all UK2 products: BRITISHLIBRARY50 

26 April 2018

Happy World Intellectual Property Day!

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April 26th 2018 is World Intellectual Property Day. “What?” I can hear you asking, why should there be a special day to celebrate Intellectual Property? Well, stop for a minute and take a look around you and I can guarantee that, whether you realise it or not, you will be surrounded by Intellectual Property.

Like the book you are reading (e-book or otherwise!), the iPod or MP3 player you are using to listen to music, the music itself, even the clothes you are wearing, every product or service we use in our day to day lives is the result of innovation. These innovations may be big improvements in function, or small changes in design that alter the way a product looks, either way these improvements will generally be protected by Intellectual Property (IP).

Intellectual property (IP) is like any other piece of property and the owner of the intellectual Property rights controls what if anything happens to those rights including who can benefit from the work or from the investment the rights holder has made into the creation of the product or service.

So how does this affect you and your business?

Whatever business you are engaged in it is very likely that you are using and probably even creating a large amount of IP and, if you want to get the best possible commercial results from its ownership, you need to think about the steps you need to take to protect, manage and indeed enforce your rights.

  • Protect – register your IP rights where possible.
  • Manage – keep a record of all the IP you have and any IP that you license from third parties. Ensure renewal fees are paid and licenses are up to date.
  • Enforce – as the rights holder it is your responsibility to keep an eye out for any IP infringement and to take action to stop it. If you do not intend to enforce your IP rights then perhaps you need to reconsider whether or not you should register your rights.

So let’s look at each form of IP in turn;

2000px-RegisteredTM.svgThe first piece of registrable IP most businesses will have is a trade mark. Trade marks are used to indicate the origin of goods or services. They may be symbols, words, colours or even a combination of these, the choice is yours, but whatever the makeup of your trade mark it needs to be distinct enough to allow consumers to identify your products or services from those of your competitors.

As well as standard trade marks there are several other types of mark such as Collective marks, used to distinguish the goods and/or services of members of a particular association, or Certification marks, given for compliance with defined standards to anyone who is able to certify that their products meet certain standards e.g. ISO/TC 181 Safety of toys.

Trade marking is not to be approached lightly as your trade mark is likely to be one of your most valuable business assets.

Copyright-symbolNext, Copyright. Most of us when we think of copyright we think of books, music, films etc. but copyright will also exist in your website, the flyers or brochures you may produce for your business, the menus for your restaurant or café. All of these, provided they are your own original work or you have a license to use them if they were created by a third party, will be protectable.

Mark all of your original copyrighted material with the copyright symbol ©, the name of the rights holder and the year of creation, e.g. © British Library 2018.

If you are a designer then registered designs are probably something you should consider as registered designs protect what it is that makes an item attractive or appealing to its intended market. As the holder of the registered rights you will be assured an exclusive right to the design and thereby protection against unauthorised copying of the design by third parties.

PatentedFinally, Patents (this is the biggie!)

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. It provides patent rights holders with protection for their invention for a limited period, usually 20 years, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees. Having a patent for your invention means that your invention cannot be made commercially, or distributed or sold without your written permission. You get to decide who may or may not use the invention for the duration the period of protection. However, once the patent expires, after 20 years or if you stop paying the renewal fees, the invention will no longer be protected and will enter the public domain. Basically, it becomes available for anyone to use as they wish.

Probably lesser known, but just as important IP rights are Know How and Trade Secrets. Know How is the practical knowledge of how to do something, to get something done. This sort of knowledge will not necessarily be included in a patent for example, but will be necessary to finish the product, project or job. For examples of Trade Secrets; think of the Coca Cola recipe or the recipe for Irn Bru. These rights are not registrable and need to be protected using contracts and/or confidentiality agreements.

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This post just touches on the subject of IP really as a way of highlighting World IP Day and anyone thinking of using IP or making any financially crucial or business crucial decisions based on IP should speak to an IP Attorney. The website of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys can help you locate an attorney in you local area via their website at www.cipa.org.uk . Most IP attorneys offer a free 30 minute one to one advice session.

Alternatively, you can visit your local Business and IP Centre (BIPC) for free, impartial, non legal advice. You will find a list of BIPC’s at https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre where you will also find our workshops, webinars and events you might find of interest.

A final comment; innovation through the years has shaped the world we live in, from the simple hand cast nail invented more than 2000 years ago to the invention of the wheel and the wheel and axle concept, from Gutenberg’s printing press to the telephone, the electric lamp to penicillin, all of these innovations have made our lives easier, better and more interesting and, hopefully, the inventors and innovators of our generation will continue the trend.

 

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert

10 April 2018

IP Corner: Celebrating 400 years of the first British patent

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On 11 March 2017 we reached the 400 anniversary of the granting of British Patent number 1. The anniversary was marked by a major government campaign titled “GREAT for imagination”. The campaign began in June 17 and highlighted some of the most remarkable innovations developed and patented in Great Britain in the 400 years since patent number 1. The featured inventions included beta-blockers, holograms, film processing and many more. We had the pleasure to participate in "GREAT for imagination" this February by taking BBC's The One Show behind the scenes of intellectual property and patents, and of what the Business & IP Centre does to support inventors and entrepreneurs. So what are the landmark events in the history of British patents that spans four centuries?

 

Patent number 1 was granted to Aron Rathburne and Roger Burges and was for engraving maps. The patent lasted for 14 years giving the rights holders the opportunity to train two generations of apprentices in the relevant art.

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Although this patent was the first numbered British patent it was not the earliest patent ever granted. The earliest of all known patent grants was a grant of King Henry III of England (also ruler of the whole of western France) confirming a grant by the Mayor of Bordeaux to a citizen of Bordeaux for the manufacture of “cloths in many divers colours after the manner of the Flemmings”.  The Rathburne/Burges patent is believed to have been chosen for convenience because it was the first entry in a docket book of patent abstracts.

The idea of numbering and printing all British patents from 1617 through to 1852 and from October 1852 onwards came from Bennet Woodcroft, the then (1852) Superintendent of Specifications and Indexes at the Patent Office.  Woodcroft himself was an inventor and, along with very  many others, had long been in favour of patent reform. It has been said that it was these agitators for reform and the opening of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 that brought matters to a head leading to the Patent Law Amendment Act of 1852. This was the first Act to be placed on the Statute Book prescribing the procedure for obtaining patents of invention.

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Not everyone was in favour of patents, one such opponent was Isambard Kingdom Brunel who believed that patents were an unfair hindrance to progress. The system still has its opponents today, but without patents of invention and the subsequent rights the grant gives the rights holders what encouragement would there be for individuals or businesses to spend time and money researching and developing products? 

Not all patents are for major breakthroughs in science or technology. The majority cover the more mundane aspects of life such as a collapsible tea pot patented in 1906 by Frances O’Hara of London or a method of securing lids of boxes of dry goods by Charles Witham in 1902 or even an improved means for spacing railway sleepers patented in Britain by George Hindman of the USA.

Everything we use today has been improved in some way by innovations protected under the intellectual property system.  The mobile phone for example still does what Alexander Graham Bell intended when he patented his first practical telephone, it allows us to speak with another person at a distance, but the idea has been improved upon and improved upon many times over the years so that the mobile telephone of today does that and so much more.

If you were to ask what my personal favourite invention was I would have to say the optical lense.  As someone who is extremely short sighted I would not be able to cope without my glasses! However,  regarding ‘quirky’ patents my favourite has to be GB106461 by an inventor called Albert Bacon Pratt for “Improvements in and relating to small arms”.

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I’m not sure I would volunteer to wear it!

The “Great for imagination” campaign has so far reached over 30 countries and will hopefully have improved the recognition of the UK as a country of innovation especially as many key technological breakthroughs, such as the jet engine, the telegraph and MRI scanners were developed and patented in Britain.

So if you do have an idea for a new product pop along to your nearest Business and IP Centre,  there are 11 in total (see https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre/national-network ) where we will be happy to start you off on your patenting journey.

 

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert