What do you call a vegetarian beef burger?

24 May 2019

Regular readers of this blog will know I am somewhat obsessed with the names of companies, products and services.

So often during my advice clinics I ‘help’ my clients discover the name they had chosen for their business has already been registered as a trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office. At this point some of them say they will no longer be able to start their business without the name they had their heart set on.

I explain that any name can work for a business. As long as it is legal, available and memorable. For example who would have thought these names based on fruit would have become associated with successful ventures (including the most valuable brand in the world).

Apple

Apple2

But, if you can come up with a great name for a business then so much the better. For instance what would you call a vegetarian beef burger? A Vurger of course. And that is exactly what The Vurger Co has done.

Vurger-co

You can read their story in detail here, but it is interesting to see that the idea started with health issues in a similar way to Deliciously Ella. And they way they initially tested the concept with a market stall. The best way to get feedback on a new edible product. I’m looking forward to finding out if they taste as good as they look.

Now I think about it, perhaps Vurger is too good a name, and they risk committing ‘Genericide’ in the long-term. This BBC website article explains how some brands that became household names lost the rights to their very own trade mark. ‘Genericide’: Brands destroyed by their own success. Maybe they will need to follow Google’s example and publish “rules for proper usage” of all its trademarks.

 


Royal Diamond Jubilee, Olympic and Paralympic souvenirs

23 September 2012

diamond_jubilee_rain_050612-matt-web_2239104aIt has been quite a summer in Britain this year, and I’m not just talking about the weather.

First we had lots of celebrations and events to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The biggest was the rain lashed Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, with 1,000 boats assembled from across the world. Once again the Telegraph cartoonist Matt (left) summed it up perfectly.

Then we had the London 2012 Olympic games, closely followed by the Paralympic games (not ParaOlympics as some thought).

In keeping with the business nature of this blog, I’ve been keeping an eye out for memorable memorabilia for these three ‘once in a life-time’ events.

maamiteI think my favourite has to be the Ma’amite jar adapted from the long-standing Marmite brand. It’s a bit cheeky, but not too disrespectful of the Queen. And it seemed to find favour with supermarket buyers, as it seemed to appear in everywhere during June. In case you bump into her Majesty, you will need to remember it’s pronounced Mam as in Jam, not Ma’am as in arm.

A rather less respectful, but also best selling product was the Diamond Jubilee Sick Bag. This was a natural follow up to graphic artist Lydia Leith’s unusual souvenir to mark the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. There is a strong tradition of not taking those in power too seriously in the UK, so it was not such a surprise to see this novelty item become something of a best-seller.

Diamond_Jubilee_sick_bag

Waving_QueenI actually prefer the Waving Queen toy, whose solar power handbag meant she would give a proper royal wave whenever the sun came out. I was given one as a present, so took her on holiday to France where she made a great impression on the local gendarmes. We were even given a formal salute, and a french accented ‘God bless her Majesty’, as we drove through a police road block in Normandy.

We spent the holiday trying to perfect the energy saving royal wave twist of the hand.

Waving_Queen_in_Normandy

Waving Queen on tour in Normandy

I think my least favourite item has to be from the Royal Mint in the shape of these specially produced five pound coins. For some strange reason they have chosen a particularly grumpy looking Queen to go on the back (or is it the front). By the way, how do you call heads or tails, when the coin has only heads?

Queen_Diamond_Jubilee_five_pound_coin

Moving on to the London 2012 Olympics we have a rather motley set of  memorabilia.

Anything that is encumbered by the dreaded 2012 logo is damaged goods as far as I am concerned, even if I have not been taken in by the ridiculous Zionist conspiracy theory.

Olympics_logo

Thanks to the post games sales, I managed to pick up a Wenlock for a knockdown price, so am now in possession of this slightly scary cyclops.

Wenlock

You can read the background to Wenlock and Mandeville on Wikipedia. I tend to agree with the critic claiming that the pair were the product of a “drunken one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek”.

I have to admit I haven’t seen any of these for sale, but the Olympic Condoms story is too good to miss.

Apparently 150,000 free condoms were given to athletes participating at the London Olympics, which is 50% more than at the Beijing Games in 2008. That works out to 15 condoms for each of the 10,500 competitors who stayed in the Olympic Village.

olympic_condom

olympic_condom_advert

At the other end of the cost spectrum are signed framed photo montages of previous Olympic champions. For example one signed by Kelly Holmes, Daley Thompson, Steve Redgrave, Seb Coe and Chris Hoy is a snip at £1,000.

If you fancy an umpire’s chair or other more practical souvenir of the games such as a super-long bed, just visit Remains of the Games website.

Adam_Hill_GamesmakerI have really struggled to find any specific Paralympic souvenirs, so I think I will have to go with the knitted Adam Hill. Adam was the host of The Last Leg, the surprise hit TV show of the Paralympics.

A fan of the show decided to create a knitted Adam Gamesmaker and to auction it on eBay for charity. Thanks to extensive use of Twitter on the show, the auction went viral and when last heard the bid price had exceeded £30,000.

.

.

..

Postcript:

It seems as though I wasn’t the only one to be worried by Mandeville and Wenlock. Although on the positive side perhaps my £2 purchase above will be a collectors item in the future. How Mandeville and Wenlock derailed Hornby.


Arganic Oil a niche Success Story

6 August 2012

Arganic_Argan_OilDespite being a ‘jack of all-trades and master of none‘ librarian, I have to admit to not having heard of Argan Oil before. But thanks to Dana Elemara the founder of Arganic I now know much more than I did.

According to Wikipedia Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the Argan tree. It is found in Morocco, and is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties.

The Arganic Oil website expresses it more evocatively:

Argan oil is one of the healthiest and rarest oils in the world coming from the UNESCO protected argan tree. Often nicknamed ‘liquid gold’ this oil was the Berber people’s secret for centuries

It takes approximately 15 hours and 30kg of fruit to produce just 1 litre of argan oil. This lengthy process involves skilled handwork that has been passed down from generations.

In late summer the argan fruit ripens and falls to the ground where it is gathered. It is then laid out in the sun to dry. To make the oil, the dried outer fruit is first removed, then, using traditional artisanal techniques involving stones, the seeds are extracted from the hard inner shell.

Argan TreeUp to this point everything is done by hand, furthermore it is only women involved and this employment provides not only a good source of income in a poor region but an opportunity for them to gain independence. The process is governed by cooperatives who also give these women access to free education, and use some of the profits of the argan oil trade to benefit the local tribes and communities.

The seeds are then cold pressed to extract the oil. Nothing is wasted in the process, the fruit pulp is fed to cattle and the leftover seed pulp is used as fuel. At Arganic we have strict controls at every stage of production.

Dana had attended a couple of events and courses at the Business & IP Centre, but is still relatively new to the library. But it sounds like we have already been of help.

‘I trademarked my name only after being aware of it through the free IP seminar at the British Library and it was one of the best things I could have done at the start of my business as I have come across and won IP issues since.’

Here is her story:

Dana had heard about argan oil through relatives that were raving about it but found it difficult to get hold of in the UK. It was then that she decided to leave her mathematical and corporate background behind and the idea for Arganic came about. Luckily Dana had friends living in Morocco who put her through to the right people and the more she learned about this oil the more she fell in love with it and the important social impact it plays for women in Morocco.

Update

I’ve just received this exciting update from Dana:

What a lovely post, thank you so much. There have been so many things happen since we last met, details on my last newsletter here, including TV appearances. Also last week my argan oil won a gold award from The Guild of Fine Foods, and today I found out that I won a Shell Livewire Grand Ideas award which gives me £1000 and free PR. They said I achieved the highest points in my category, and am now in the run for Young Entrepreneur of the Year which is announced in November. So I am extremely pleased right now.

I am still visiting the library and recommending the business centre constantly.

All the best, Dana

Arganic founder Dana Elemara

Arganic founder Dana Elemara


The Apprentice hits the mark with gourmet street food

25 April 2012

Lucky_ChipThis evening’s Apprentice shows the show’s researchers have their ears to the ground with regard to the latest trend in street food retailing.

Pop-up shops selling gourmet fast food is all the rage in the trendier parts of London these days.

Luckily the Kings Cross development area is just one such place, with its Eat Street, just up the road from the updated eponymous station, and literally across the road from the recently opened University of the Arts.

I have been lured over to this new venture on numerous occasions, despite the relatively high prices compared to traditional fast food outlets. But the food has always been worth it, with a notable spicy burger which had a real bite to it.

As was pointed out during this weeks Apprentice episode, branding is a key element of any enterprise, and some of the stalls in Eat Street certainly have memorable names. My favourites are Daddy Donkey, Well Kneaded Ltd, Yum Bun, Hardcore Prawn, and Eat my Pies.

tongue-n-cheekHowever, I think that Tongue ‘n Cheek needs to find a way make its delicious sounding underrated meat cuts and Italian inspired street food treats, such as Ox cheek with caramelized onions and polenta, a bit more accessible given the queue size I observed the other day.

These names certainly compare favourably to the Apprentice team’s choices of Gourmet Scot Pot and Utterly delicious Meatballs.

Update: August 2012: I’m now a regular at Eat Street as their days and stalls expand all the time. I’ve just had probably the best burger I’ve ever tasted from Tongue ‘n Cheek. It was their Heartbreacker Original burger, made from Ox heart and dry aged beef burger, spicy chimichurri sauce, water cress, cheddar and sour cream. And it tasted amazing.


The Deeley Bopper rises again for Sport Relief 2012

22 March 2012

Deeley BopperThis evening I stumbled across a Deeley Bopper in a Sainsbury’s supermarket on my way home from work. In its current incarnation it is being used to raise money for Sport Relief 2012.

The Deeley Bopper or Deeley Bobber is one of my all time favourite ‘inventions’. I’ve used quotes because this multi-million selling innovation from the creative mind of Stephen Askin in 1981, is not actually registered as either a patent or even a trade mark.

Although I am definitely not a fan of the object itself, and you are unlikely to catch me wearing one out in the street (or in the house come to that), I use it as a great example in my business innovation work.

One of the strict rules we apply when we meet clients for our confidential Information Advice Clinics, is never to give an opinion on their business idea or invention. And the main reason for this, is however many years one might have in business, it is impossible to tell what will be successful – and vice versa.

The Deeley Bopper provides the perfect illustration. I just ask my colleagues to imagine how they would have reacted if Stephen Askin had come in for an advice session, and asked for their opinion on his latest business wheeze. I can imagine my response would have been something along the lines of; “You have to be joking. No one will buy those”.

And yet they sold in their millions in the 1980’s and appear almost as popular in their revised ‘Red Nose’ guise today. So, however stupid an idea might appear, it can still make a fortune for its creator.


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – A monster of a book about a monster of a man

24 November 2011

Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_IsaacsonMany thanks to Debbie Epstein for giving me this amazing book as a present.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson is the only authorised story of the life and death of one of the most influential figures of the last 50 years, who died on 5 October this year, aged 56, from pancreatic cancer.

The book is something of a monster at 627 pages, and chronicles Steve Jobs‘ life from his childhood, through the creation and early days of Apple computers, his battles with Microsoft, his sacking and 12 year later return to the company he founded. Isaacson managed to interview Jobs himself over forty times, and tracked down more than a hundred friends, family, colleagues, competitors and adversaries.

I found it a compelling read, and managed to complete it in less than a week. It is perhaps the most honest and revealing authorised biography ever written of an industry leader. Isaacson uncovers both the amazing stories behind the revolutionary products Apple produced. However, he also reveals something of a monster of a man.

Jobs was a sensitive person, perhaps more so due to being adopted at birth, who spent several months wandering across India in his youth looking for spiritual enlightenment and followed Buddhism for the rest of his life. But he could also be the most manipulative and down-right nasty person it is possible to imagine. So much so, that his early colleagues referred to his ability to distort reality to his own ends (Reality distortion field even has its own Wikipedia entry).

Having been something of a computer nerd as a teenager in the mid-1970s I first came across his creations in the form of an Apple II computer. As you can see it was some way from the sleek and sexy design of the more recent iMacs. So reading the story of how Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed these machines made for riveting reading.

Apple II computer

Although he made many mistakes along the way, as well as many enemies, and a trail of broken colleagues, his vision and passion resulted in products which have truly revolutionised the computer industry, and made Apple the most valuable company in the world.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Steve Jobs was that he never felt the need to conduct market research (something we recommend all our clients in the Business & IP Centre should do). Instead he worked on creating ‘insanely great’ products people would discover they didn’t know they needed until they saw them.


SquidLondon brighten up a rainy autumn day

12 September 2011

emma-jayne_parkes_and_vivian_jaegerSomething of a surprise on my way home tonight to see a full-page advert for our Success Story SquidLondon in the Evening Standard.

Fashion graduates Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger founded SquidLondon after being inspired by Jackson Pollock. They thought it would be cool to walk down the street, it starts to rain and your clothes turn into a walking Jackson Pollock.

Their first product, the Squidarella, is an umbrella that changes colour as it rains. Developing such an innovative product meant that intellectual property – protecting their ideas – was an essential topic to crack. The pair visited the Business & IP Centre to learn more about how intellectual property applied to them.

Squid have now moved to the bathroom with their latest product : ‘Miss Squidolette’ Shower Curtain!

Miss_Squidolette-Shower_Curtain


How to revive a brand

5 September 2011

On the way home from a recent road trip to Scotland, I made a ‘pit-stop’ at a McDonalds restaurant near Birmingham.

I’m not a regular customer at the ‘golden arches’, so was very surprised to discover a waterless urinal
with a sticker on it saying it saved 100,000 litres of water a year.

urinal

Copyright Sorven Media ltd

This is all part of McDonalds’ efforts to combat the negative press that has built up over the years. In particular the reaction to ‘McLibel’ case and reaction to the 1994 documentary film Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock.

McDonalds have created a website to allow you to Make up your own mind, which currently contains 24,000 questions and answers:

Your Questions
A dedicated Make Up Your Own Mind team from across McDonald’s is working hard to answer your questions. You can ask whatever you want, and we aim to answer even the toughest question within two weeks in an honest and straight-talking fashion. The ‘Questions & Answers’ can be searched either by keyword or by sub-sections – this should help you find the information you’re looking for.

The website also includes reports from their Quality Scouts.

What is a Quality Scout?
Quality Scouts are members of the general public from around the UK who are curious about McDonald’s business. They are not paid, and have no ties to the company. All they do is take an honest, behind the scenes look at McDonald’s and report back. And they’ll tell you exactly what they hear and see.

I have to say I am impressed by their efforts, but wonder what it will take to change public opinion.

Two examples spring to mind:

Fiat cars of the 1970’s, which became notorious for their rust problems.

In response they built the Tipo in the 1980’s (a car I owned), and gave it a fully galvanised body, giving it better rust protection than almost any other car on the market. However, it took many years for their ‘rust bucket’ reputation to disappear.

A more recent (if fictitious) example is from The Archers radio show where an outbreak of E. coli,  has resulted in regular customers deserting Ambridge Organics, despite having been given the all clear several weeks ago.


History in an Hour – another of our Success Stories

15 August 2011

History-in-an-HourAfter my post Here’s one we helped earlier – Seasoned culinary courses, I’ve heard from another client of the Business & IP Centre who has gone on to great success.

Even better, History in an Hour is the brainchild of a librarian.

Rupert Colley had the idea ten years ago, but with the encouragement of his partner Annabel and help from the Business & IP Centre, he finally made a success of it.

The value of the idea has now been recognised by international publishing house Harper Collins, who recently purchased the e-book series from the Rupert.

Annabel kindly sent me a note saying;

“… had it not been for the Business & IP Centre, I wouldn’t have had the idea or the confidence to know where to start in registering a trademark for “In An Hour”, which meant that this became also an asset purchase, not just a straight multi-book licensing deal.”

Rupert also sent me a note to say they are having a summer sale. For the month of August 2011 only, the apps are 69p –  iBooks 49p – Nook 99c and Kindle 98p or less.

History-in-an-Hour-wide

HarperCollins Signs History in an Hour Ebook Series

In a major new acquisition HarperCollins has purchased the History in an Hour e-book series from the company founder and author Rupert Colley. The deal was set up by Scott Pack and the books will be published by Arabella Pike at HarperPress.

History in an Hour is a series of e-books and apps that summarise key areas of world history in digest form, with each title taking no more than sixty minutes to read. From World War Two to Black History, from American Civil War to the Reformation, History in an Hour titles have been a permanent fixture in the Apple bestseller lists since September 2010, often with 3 titles in the top ten or five in the top twenty. They recently came out on Kindle as well. The History in an Hour website and blog can be found at: http://www.historyinanhour.com

Scott Pack says: “When I saw these e-books topping the Apple iBooks charts I was intrigued as I was pretty sure they weren’t from a major publisher. I downloaded one and was really impressed, it did exactly as it promised. I was amazed to discover that they were all the work of a librarian from Enfield creating them in his spare room. I was determined to snap them up before anyone else did.”

Rupert Colley comments: “History is fascinating but it can also be daunting – huge books, a huge choice and endless websites. My aim with History In An Hour is to make it less daunting and more accessible whilst still providing a quality read. I want to offer readers a starting place in their historical reading; a platform on which to build. Now, with HarperPress, we can take it to a new level and spread the word – that History is exciting.”

HarperPress will launch the series on 4th August with six titles. A further seven will follow in October. All existing books will be rebranded and an ambitious programme to grow the series will include titles on the fall of the Roman Empire, the Gunpowder Plot, the Vietnam War, Castro and the Wars of the Roses, as well as an extension of the brand into other subject areas. More than one year on, History in an Hour is still topping the charts with World War Two in an Hour currently number 15.

Arabella Pike comments: ‘This is an incredibly exciting venture for HarperPress. In just over one year Rupert has, single-handed, created a superb brand offering great history for busy people – short, sharp, informative books to be read on a phone or e-reader perfect whilst enduring the daily commute to work. As a leading publisher of history, we intend to work with Rupert to build this pioneering series to publish some terrific titles, show how historical content can be refashioned to suit the digital age, and open up a whole new generation of readers to the delights of history.’

Launch titles:

  • World War Two
  • The Cold War
  • The Afghan Wars
  • The Reformation
  • Henry VIII’s Wives
  • Nazi Germany
  • October titles:
  • Black History
  • 1066
  • Hitler
  • Ancient Egypt
  • American Slavery
  • The American Civil War
  • The World Cup

Seeing red over the Red Shoes

12 August 2011

	AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by pixieclipxI’m no fashion expert, but there seems to be something about red shoes.

They feature in a typically grim Hans Christian Andersen fairly tale, in which a vain girl is punished by a pair of red shoes which refuse to stop dancing, even after she has her feet amputated.

This inspired one of my favourite films from the 1940’s by the great Powell and Pressburger, and more recently an album by singer songwriter Kate Bush.

Now they are featuring in a trademark dispute between two haute couture fashion houses, Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent. Christian Louboutin loses round one of red sole battle with Yves Saint Laurent.

Christian Louboutin’s whose shoes have a distinctive red sole, was suing Yves Saint Laurent for using the same colour on the bottom of its footwear.

US judge, Victor Marrero, has denied Louboutin’s request to block sales of  ‘copycat’ red soled shoes from YSL’s 2011 collection.

Marrero wrote in his ruling:

‘Because in the fashion industry colour serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition, the court finds that Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection, even if it has gained enough public recognition in the market to have acquired secondary meaning.’

Mr Louboutin is seeking more than $1million damages for alleged infringement of his ‘Red Sole’ trademark, claiming that he was the first designer to develop the idea of having red soles on women’s shoes.

YSL hit back, with their court papers stating ‘Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz.’


The re-branding of Beachy Head

7 April 2011

logo_beachy_headThe biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, in England’s newest National Park, came on the final day of walking.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine Ale, and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale, produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap pub, the Tiger Inn, sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement home.

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well known feature. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally a jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. Beachy Head suicide spot.

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved.

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see at Beachy Head.org.uk, it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

While there, I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. And it will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. However, given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor highlights, but, the designers have decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

Beachy Head Map 3Beach Head Map 1

 

The re-branding of Beach Head

 

Beach Head logo

 

The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, ??? in England’s newest National Park, ??? came on the last day.

 

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine beer, ??? and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, ??? there is now a new rival.

 

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale,??? produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

 

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap ??? pub, the Tiger Inn, ??? sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement house. ???

 

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well know aspect. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally the jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

 

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. ??? wikipedia – ??? Green Wing clip

 

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved. ???

 

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years and are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see from the map and at Beachy Head dot org, ??? it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

 

I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. It will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. But given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

 

The re-branding of Beach Head

Beach Head logo

The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, ??? in England’s newest National Park, ??? came on the last day.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine beer, ??? and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, ??? there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale,??? produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap ??? pub, the Tiger Inn, ??? sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement house. ???

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well know aspect. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally the jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. ??? wikipedia – ??? Green Wing clip

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved. ???

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years and are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see from the map and at Beachy Head dot org, ??? it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. It will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. But given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor’s highlights. But, the designers decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor’s highlights. But, the designers decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

 

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.


Milking a story for all it’s worth

6 March 2011

The_Monster_Ball_-_Poker_Face_revamped2.jpg: John Robert Charlton aka Bobby Charlton of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, EnglandLast week I was admiring how successfully the Icecreamists have been at generating publicity for their Baby Gaga ice cream, made from human breast-milk, which costs £14 (Luxury foods in terribly bad taste). Then they had a set-back when their local council removed the milk for testing.

On Friday, yet another newspaper article appeared in the Evening Standard – Baby Gaga: Star takes legal action over London parlour’s breast milk ice cream flavour.

It’s a publicists dream come true. Probably the worlds most famous current pop star is threatening legal action over the ice cream, which her lawyers claim is infringing her Lady Gaga brand.

From a legal point of view, it seems unlikely that Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, also know as Lady Gaga, will win her case against Matt O’Connor the owner of the Icecreamists. He claims the term comes from the early sounds babies make when trying to speak, and has applied to register the trademark.

However, thanks to the Lady Gaga name, this story has now gone global, appearing in American, Russian and Indian newspapers within hours. Mr O’Connor must be rubbing his hands with glee.



Logos with customer appeal – Apples and Marmite

2 March 2011

A recent post on the Graphic Design Blog showed the results of their readers top five logos of all time.

I guess I really wasn’t that surprised to see the Apple logo sitting at number one.

Apple Logo

Although I am old enough to remember the original Apple Corps logo used by the Beatles pop group. Apple and the Beatles: The End of a Long and Winding Road?

Apple_Corps_logo

This talk of logos got me thinking about the power of brands and trademarks in protecting products and services.

The harsh truth about business, is that if you are successful you will have competition, even if you have an invention protected by a patent.

An example would be the Dyson vacuum cleaner, whose Dual Cyclone technology is protected by patents, and yet the courts have allowed a somewhat similar looking cleaner from rival firm VAX to compete – Dyson loses design case.

dyson cleanerVax cleaner

My favourite brand of all time would have to be Marmite yeast extract spread.

(Marmite jar - 250g size Photo by User:Malcolm Farmer, 28 June 2003 Category:Spreads)

This is not because the logo or image are particularly strong, but because since the creation of its secret recipe in 1902, it has managed to maintain a virtual monopoly, with the only rivals being Australian Vegemite and Swiss Cenovis. With sales of 60 million jars a year at over £5 each, one would assume this a market to attract heavy competition.

However, the Marmite brand is so strong that no-one seems to be trying, or certainly succeeding in competing.

As with many products not everyone is a fan, and Marmite have very cleverly used the strong reactions to the flavour of the spread in their recent marketing campaigns.

Marmite - Love it or hate it


JOT-it down as another success story for the Business & IP Centre

21 September 2010

It is quite a special feeling when one of our clients from our Business & IP information clinics successfully brings their product or service to market.

In this case, Bob Bhatti had a meeting with my colleague Jeremy O’Hare, way back in November 2008. And he and his business partner Scott Lindsay have pursued their vision since that time, attending a range of our workshops and seminars. They also had an Ask the Expert session with our Inventor in Residence Mark Sheahan. And our commercial Research Service ran patent prior art and trademark searches to help in protecting the intellectual property of the product.

According to the Jot-it Facebook Page, they have just finished exhibiting at the London Gift Fair and are building up a very healthy order book.

Yet again I am amazed that such a simple idea has not been seen before and wish Bob and Scott the best in their exciting business adventure.

What is JOT-it™

JOT-it™ is a handheld product providing maximum writing area on a standard A7 size recycled, pre-printed note pad. It is accompanied with a recycled mini pencil, a pound trolley token to release the shopping trolley from the trolley loan mechanism, has an embedded magnet on the rear for typical fridge attachment and an integrated clip on the rear to clamp the complete device to the shopping trolley handle bar.  This feature also incorporates a high friction rubber pad to provide a robust attachment with minimum effort. All these supplementary items have moulded-in clips on the main body to keep everything organised and together.

With JOT-it™, individuals can generate a shopping list over the course of the week on the notepad using the mini pencil. This notepad is pre-printed with a checklist of the most popular grocery items whilst still leaving a generous amount of space to add additional items. When the user is ready to visit the supermarket, they can take the JOT-it™ along with them.

Once at the supermarket, the user faces another issue of finding a one pound coin to insert into the shopping trolley loan mechanism. The JOT-it™ provides a pound coin widget with a unique thumb grip feature allowing the user to grip the widget securely and remove it successfully each time. It is often found that coins once inserted are not easily retractable due to the minimum grip available.

The JOT-it™ can next be clipped to the shopping trolley handle bar and rotated accordingly to provide a good reading angle. There are no limitations to this adjustment. Again, the mini pencil ( which also has a holder on the front of the unit) can be used to mark off items if the user wishes to and once this shopping trip is complete, the user can dispose of the used leaf and start a new one for the next trip.



Appeal for empty niche brand water bottles

21 July 2010

As part of my presentation, during our Practical Market Research workshop, I have a slide showing three very different types of bottled water.

The images nearly always trigger an insightful discussion about branding and niches within markets, and how entrepreneurs need to think very carefully and strategically about their product and service. Are they going to target the top of the market populated with ‘high net worth individuals’, the growing green consumers, or perhaps the ethical demographic?

As you can see from my screen shot, I cover all of the above sectors with my examples.

The first is called bling h20 and costs $40 for the limited edition Paris Pink bottle. They justify its price tag by putting Swarovski crystals on the bottle and making Paris Hilton its patron saint.

The second brand is Tasmanian Rain and claims: This uniquely pure rainwater is captured on the pristine island of Tasmania, Australia where the air is scientifically proven to be the purest in the world. The air currents travel over Antarctica and 10,000 miles of open ocean eventually reaching the western most part of Tasmania, “the edge of the world”. Here, TASMANIAN RAIN is collected before ever touching the ground, therefore never absorbing impurities, and resulting in a water that is ten times more pure than other premium and artesian waters.

Finally, Belu is an ethical brand and claim to produce the UK’s most eco-friendly bottled water.
It is 100% carbon neutral with the UK’s first plastic bottle made from corn not oil. We deliver one month of clean water per bottle we sell and donate all our profits to clean water projects.

All of this is a rather long winded way of getting  to my appeal for empty bottles of these (or any other niche filling bottled water brands) as example for me to hand round in my workshop.

If you happen to be passing by The British Library and could drop them off at the front desk for me, I would be very grateful.


Who owns the rights to the vuvuzela?

6 July 2010

The vuvuzela may be the most annoying musical instrument to be manufactured in recent years. Not only does the buzzing sound have the ability to drown out the crowd and commentary in World Cup matches, the sheer 120 decibel volume of noise at close range can lead to permanent hearing loss. In fact a new model has been introduced with a modified mouthpiece the reduces the volume by twenty decibel.

The popularity of the vuvuzela is spreading to the UK, with Sainsbury supermarket stocking 40,000. And I have even heard the distinctive sound of the instrument around my village during warm evenings. With anything selling in the hundreds of thousands the intellectual property is worth protecting.

In this case the ownership of the idea is claimed by Freddie Maake:

Vuvuzela creator blown off?
Popular Kaizer Chiefs supporter Freddie “Saddam” Maake, who claims to have created the instrument, is an angry man and feels sidelined from the lucrative spin-offs of his “hard work”. He vows the rights of the vuvuzela belong to him and went on to put up a convincing argument for why he should receive royalties from all the companies that produce the horn… Maake’s anger about his loss in earnings is directed at Neil van Schalkwyk, the co-owner of Masincedane Sport in Cape Town. He accuses the 36-year-old businessman of “short changing” him after an earlier undertaking to share the proceeds. “He is making a killing out of my hard work while I starve,” says Maake. Masincedane has gone into partnership with a German company to produce the vuvuzela ahead of the 2010 World Cup. “Journalists from as far as England and Mexico have visited me here and say that I should be rich, but look at me.”

Africa: Doubts raised over vuvuzela trade mark
There have been a number of press reports recently on the issue of who owns the rights to the vuvuzela. In reviewing the fuss and bother around this quasi-musical instrument, it is not clear whether these parties are claiming rights to the trade mark vuvuzela, or the rights to the product itself. Be that as it may, it is instructive to look at the history of the vuvuzela.

One Freddie Maake, a fanatical Kaizer Chiefs supporter, claims he was the first person to create a vuvuzela, albeit an aluminium version in the 1970s. Maake claims that in 1999, with the assistance of Peter Rice, he produced a plastic version of the vuvuzela. He claims that until the late 1990s he was the only owner of a vuvuzela and the only user of one at soccer matches. In 1999 he launched an album called “Vuvuzela Cellular” which features this instrument.

Neil van Schalkwyk, a director of Masincedane Sports, a company that has been manufacturing plastic vuvuzelas since 2001, is also claiming rights to the name vuvuzela.

The Nazareth Baptist Church has now also stated that the trade mark Vuvuzela belongs to it. It claims that it has been using the vuvuzela since 1910.

However, no one has done the groundwork required to give effect to ownership of the vuvuzela. There are no valid patents or designs registered in respect of the musical instrument that is now called the vuvuzela.

Even if this instrument could have formed the subject matter of a design or patent registration, the opportunity of doing so has long come and gone. The only question now is who, if anyone, is the owner of the Vuvuzela trade mark.

According to the records of the South African Registrar of Trade Marks, 40 trade mark applications, by numerous persons and entities, have been filed over the past eight years for the registration of trade marks incorporating vuvuzela. These trade mark applications are in relation to a wide variety of goods and services.

One of the applicants for these trade marks is Rory Peter Rice (presumably the same person who assisted Maake with the manufacture of a plastic vuvuzela), who in 2004 applied for registration of the trade mark Vuvuzela in respect of a “plastic trumpet”. Three days before Rice’s application, Masincedane Sports also filed an application for the trade mark Vuvuzela in relation to “musical instruments”, a Mr Mafokate applied for the registration of the trade mark Vuvuzela in 2003 and in 2009 so also did Messrs Urbas, Kehrberg and Bartels, all German citizens.

All of the vuvuzela trade marks are still pending, which means that at this point in time no single party can claim to be the registered owner of the vuvuzela trade mark in South Africa. Masincedane Sports’ application has been accepted by the Registrar but it would appear that this trade mark is under opposition, presumably by one of the other people who claim to own the vuvuzela. Despite the fact that at this point in time no-one can claim to be the registered owner of the Vuvuzela trade mark in South Africa, the question still remains whether any party can claim to be the common law owner of the trade mark. An internet search revealed that there are many entities or persons making use of the vuvuzela as a musical instrument. It would appear that most, if not all, consumers regard the trade mark vuvuzela as not belonging to any single person.

For example, one can buy vuvuzelas on vuvuzela.co.za, which would appear not to be linked to either Rice or Masincedane Sports. The website that can be found at boogieblast.co.za also advertises vuvuzelas. There are other websites, such as southafrica.info, which openly state that the vuvuzela belongs to the people. Even if one looks at the website of Masincedane Sports, which can be found at vuvuzelas.com, there is no claim on the website that the company regards itself as the owner of the vuvuzela trade mark. In fact quite the contrary: on its website Masincedane Sports appears to use vuvuzela in a sense to indicate that no single party can claim a monopoly on the name.

The South African Trade Marks Act provides that a mark that consists exclusively of a sign or indication which has become customary in the current language is not registrable as a trade mark. In short, a word that is used by all and sundry to describe a particular thing cannot be protected as a trade mark as the word has become generic.

It would appear that the trade mark vuvuzela is used by the people of South Africa to describe a type of musical instrument. It can therefore be argued that the trade mark vuvuzela has become generic and that no single party will be able to claim ownership of the name vuvuzela when referring to the musical instrument.

Carl van Rooyen, Spoor & Fisher, Pretoria, South Africa

Vuvuzelas: 10 things you need to know about the fans’ World Cup instrument

1. A vuvuzela is a blowing horn approximately 1 m in length commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa.

2. To blow a vuvuzela you need some lip and lung strength to produce a loud monotone sound.

3. Practised players can generate an awesome 127 decibels when blowing the horn.

4. Researchers even claim to have found evidence that vuvuzelas can lead to permanent hearing damage

5. Where the word vuvuzela comes from is hazy with one theory being that it came from the Zulu word for making a vuvu noise. It is also a township slang word for shower.

6. The vuvuzela is unique to South Africa and is an emblem of hope and unity for many.

7. It was originally made from a kudu horn and it’s claimed in South African folklore that in the ancient days, it was used to summon people to gatherings.

8. The sound made by a vuvuzelas has been compared with “a stampede of noisy elephants, “a deafining swarm of locusts,” or a giant hive of angry bees.”

9. Kaizer Chiefs FC fan Freddie “Saddam” Maake claims he invented the vuvuzelas in 1965 by adapting an aluminium version from a bicycle horn after removing the black rubber to blow with his mouth. He later found it to be too short and joined a pipe to make it longer.

10. Ronaldo has hit out at the sound of the vuvuzelas saying: “It is difficult for anyone on the pitch to concentrate.”


E-courses on intellectual property helping Bonbon Balm

11 May 2010

Chocolate Lip Balm Image It is always nice to get positive feedback on events and activities we run here in the Business & IP Centre. However, our E-courses on intellectual property sometimes get a bit forgotten with the excitement surrounding big name speakers such as Alan Sugar.

So it was good to get a reminder from Sally who runs the Bonbon Balm website.

I have just started up my new online business (www.bonbonbalm.com) and wanted to say a thank you to the team at the British Library.  Your information and support on Intellectual Property has been invaluable during the start-up process. I don’t think I could have understood everything without your online courses.

Many thanks!
Sally

Image of shed door with message painted on - Inside is your invention. We'll help you stop it becoming someone else'sE-courses on intellectual property

A brilliant idea can take you a long way, but the road to protection and development can be challenging.

To help you, we have launched a series of free online courses on intellectual property.

Course 1: This will help you get to grips with IP, including patents, trade marks, registered designs and copyright.

Course 2: The second course will teach you how to search intellectual property databases to see if your idea is original.

Course 3: The third course will help you find out if there is a market for your idea.


It’s official – trade marks with swearing are now ok

29 March 2010

I have to admit to not being a fan of marketing shock tactics. And I suppose the French Connection FCUK brand must be amongst the most well known example.

According to a BBC report from 2001, the FCUK logo was created by legendary adman Trevor Beattie, and is widely credited with turning the fashion retailer’s fortunes around. The British Advertising Standards Authority received 27 complaints about the logo on its launch. And a British judge branded the campaign “tasteless and obnoxious” during a court case involving the company.

Just this week I spotted a story in Springwise for a new brand of gadget friendly jeans that go by the name wtfjeans. My feeling is this is somewhat less offensive, as only ‘hip young things’ would know what the three letters stand for in this context. Having said that, a quick Google search reveals over 35 million hits for the term.

However, one of my Intellectual Property expert colleagues Philip Eagle has discovered that in January the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) approved a German trade mark,  F***ing Hell.

Apparently swearing is ok as long as the offensive word is used in the abstract and not used to insult an identifiable person or group of people.

R 0538/2008-4 – F***ing Hell [Fig. mark] – The applicant sought to register a figurative trade mark for ‘clothing, footwear, headgear’ in Class 25, ‘beers and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic drinks’ in Class 32 and ‘alcoholic beverages (except beers)’ in Class 33.

Update:

Philip has just informed me that the UKIPO may have a different view on the matter as in June 2005 they refused an application for FOOK.

The Hearing Officer found that the trade mark was excluded from acceptance by reason of section 3(3)(a) of the Trade  Marks Act 1994 on the basis that it consisted exclusively of the word FOOK which is phonetically very similar or, in some regional dialects, identical to the offensive word F***. As such it was contrary to accepted principles of morality.
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o18205.pdf

On a related topic I note that my old University, Keele has recently published a study showing that swearing can lessen pain.