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Cam Trade Marks & IP Services takes part in national Intellectual Property Awareness Campaign hosted by Microsoft.

Dr Roman Cholij of Cambridge-based Cam Trade Marks & IP Services, representing the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, shared the podium with Microsoft’s Head of Legal, Dervish Tayyip, Roger Goetze of Business Link, Miles Rees of the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), Cathy Brode from 3BView and Christopher Willett, representing the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, at a meeting to highlight the importance to businesses of identifying and protecting their intellectual property.

The event, which took place March 11 2008 at Microsoft’s research labs on the outskirts of Cambridge, was part of a continuing UK IPO- led nation wide campaign that began 18 months ago following the Gower Review, a government report with recommendations on the state of UK Intellectual Property. The report concluded that businesses, especially SMEs, sit on their unprotected IP at great potential risk to themselves and could be missing out on significant value to their businesses. The UK IPO (web site at, which is an executive agency of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) ), has been tasked to lead a nation-wide awareness campaign, this being one of several initiatives recommended to improve Britain’s economic competitiveness through effective development and exploitation of IP.

Dervish Tayyip, in welcoming delegates to Microsoft’s premises, emphasised that IP was at the very base of Microsoft’s business. He explained that at the research facilities on site around us, many new technologies were being developed which even Microsoft would not use, but which were being offered to other businesses using an IP licensing model. Licensing is a very import means of exploiting IP and of recouping R&D costs without incurring the expenses involved in bringing a technology to market. Usually this business model of IP exploitation involves a negotiated royalty payment.

Roger Goetze from Business Link gave delegates an introduction of what Business Link can do for young and growing businesses, including explaining about the grants that were available. In addition, there is a wide programme of support for new and growing businesses throughout the Eastern regions. More information at

Miles Rees from the UK IPO (which used to be called the ‘Patent Office’), examined the different forms of IP that the UK IPO deals with, namely Trade Marks, Patents, Designs and Copyright. Trade Marks, which are ‘badges of origin’, can take the form of words, logos and even slogans and domain names, but they may even take more sophisticated forms such as musical sounds or jingles, colours and shapes. Regarding choice of words for a trade mark or domain name, he advised caution of how they could be perceived, citing the mark ‘Experts Exchange’ which could look very different in the form of a domain name if the words were run together! Registered designs, which last for a maximum of 25 years but which are comparatively easy to obtain, protect the outward appearance of a product - shape, configuration or pattern, for example - and can be very effectively enforced without the need to prove that someone else has copied. Copyright, on the other hand, is an automatic, non-registered, right that is produced by the author of a literary, artistic or musical work (to name but some categories protected). This can only be enforced, however, if it can be proved that a third party has actually copied you. Patents, which are registered rights that protect ideas, prevent copying without the need to prove they took their idea from you. A patent is a time-restricted monopoly (of a maximum of 20 years) that prevents others from using your protected idea without your authorisation.

Dr. Roman Cholij followed the theme of trade marks and explained about who registered trade mark attorneys are and what they do. The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (‘ITMA’), set up in 1934 to represent those who act on behalf of trade mark and registered design owners, is today a professional body of some 500 UK practitioners and many more associated legal professionals. Registered attorneys, whose names appear on the official Register established by an Act of Parliament, are regulated by the Legal Services Act of October 2007 alongside other lawyers. Dr. Cholij explained that trade mark issues, beginning with the search for freedom to use, filing and prosecuting an application, oppositions by third parties, and continuing protection of a trade mark, can involve very complex and technical matters that trade mark attorneys are trained to deal with. His conclusion was that it makes a lot of business sense to get things right with an attorney from the very start rather than getting into a pickle further downstream which can be very expensive to sort out, if it can be sorted out at all. A database of registered attorneys near you can be consulted on ITMA’s website

Christopher Willett from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys explained about the perils of trying to go it alone in securing a patent for an inventive idea. Unlike trade marks, some mistakes can be fatal and cannot ever be put right (e.g. if you disclose your idea outside a confidential circle before submitting a patent application), or if you could have secured wide protection through using the skills of a patent attorney but instead cut corners and costs and have your own drafting published, then there would be nothing you could do about it if the drafting was technically ‘narrow’ and potentially you could have missed out on big licensing revenue opportunities, or restricted your own business growth allowing competitors to run with very similar products that were based on your narrowly protected idea. Moral of the story? Use a patent attorney right from the start! Attorneys in your area can be found on

Finally Cathy Brode from 3BView provided an insight from within industry of how IP can be central to the growth of a business and how lack of care of IP issues can lead to disaster, in particular if there are leaks of sensitive and proprietary information of an IP nature.

The interest in the Microsoft seminar was such that a long waiting list soon developed just days after the event was first opened for registration. It is hoped that there will be more seminars of a similar nature in the Cambridgeshire region.

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