Dr Nikola Tesla and the Death Ray Machine…

March 3, 2015

Tesla is widely credited with inventing AC or alternating current, and of course wiping the floor with Thomas Edison’s direct current or DC as a general power source.

In fact he didn’t invent AC – it had been around for a few years before Tesla got his hands on it. However, Tesla’s genius led to the creation of the induction motor and transformer which amplified the availability of power and voltage in particular. George Westinghouse licensed Tesla’s patents and the rest as they say is history. Westinghouse is still a World class utility provider.

Tesla was a prolific inventor. He is credited with over 112 patents, filed in 25 different countries. Some of his other inventions include the largest ever magnifying transmitter coil which produced lightening bolts over 100m long! Can you imagine that on Top Gear or in physics lessons?

He was also credited with producing Tesla turbines which used discs rather than blades to propel liquids, wireless lighting, extra terrestrial radio transmitters and an “ideal flying machine.” The ideal flying machine and the work on the death ray machine are still classified documents in the US. Some say the US Government didn’t really take any notice of Tesla until he attempted to publicise his work on these devices. Whatever the truth of the matter, we can’t read his work on these inventions.

He was also way ahead of his time in other ways. Especially with his Tesla Shield – an electromagnetic shell that repelled radio waves or electromagnetic forces and kept material within the shield totally protected. The Tesla Shields still have military and civilian applications. His talents didn’t stop there. He patented a solar powered “sun motor” and an amplifier of mechanical power, i.e. a mechanical rather than an electrical invention. He was surely one of the most awesome inventors ever.

Which makes me wonder if we do enough in the UK to really help our inventors?

In the IP World I’m a big supporter of tax breaks for technology companies. We invent things, and it is only right that we support companies who manufacture and do R&D here.

It is with some sadness then that I found out that applications to the Patent Box Scheme must end for new applications before the end of 2016. The scheme itself runs until 2021. There is some suggestion that a new scheme will be introduced for patents after 2016, but the odds are that it will be less generous than the existing scheme. So the message is simple; get your inventions in now, and apply for this tax relief in good time!

If we want the next Westinghouse or Tesla in the UK, we need to support them in whatever way we can!

If you would like any advice on inventions or tax relief, give one of our team a call for a no obligation chat on 0113 4032102 or email us!


Even The Big Boys Get It Wrong In China…

December 10, 2014

made-in-china

Things regularly go wrong at trade shows. The usual phone call we get is either just before or just as the first day of the trade show opens and lo and behold some copy product is launched to an unsuspecting public!

If you are doing this then do be aware that in some European countries, the law will CLOSE YOU DOWN and ask the questions later…France springs to mind. Two directors I know of spent an uncomfortable 2 nights in a German prison at the start of one trade show. Even in the UK it isn’t unheard of for lawyers to serve Court Orders at trade shows, and then have goods seized or removed from sale. However, in the UK we normally reserve prison only in the case of contempt of Court if you don’t comply with a Court Order.

Chinese Car Manufacturer Copies Range Rover Evoque…

Pity poor old Land Rover this week in China at the Guangzhou Motor Show, when a local car manufacturer launched a £14,000 copy of their prestigious Range Rover Evoque. The Evoque is sold in China at around £40,000 and is made by a Chinese Joint Venture company comprised of Jaguar Land Rover and Chinese company Chery. What is sad about this situation is that such copying can actually destroy jobs in China and this behaviour makes even the big companies think twice about expensive JV’s with local companies and serious investment in an emerging economy.

Whilst no doubt Jaguar Land Rover’s IP experts are now crawling over the details of the design of the car and will undertake serious analysis of what is an identical component and what is simply over borrowed, this isn’t the first time the manufacturers LandWind have copied a European car. A few years ago LandWind launched a copy Vauxhall Frontera. This model was briefly sold in Europe until crash test failures forced its withdrawal from sale in European countries.

In order to succeed in China and through the local Courts, Land Rover will have to prove slavish copying of their design. This may deter them from taking action in China. Where there has been slavish copying the Chinese will close a factory down. However, I suspect LandWind have been too clever to get caught by that trap and have designed around any direct copy but have used the “look” of the Evoque to capture the bottom end of the car market in the Far East.

All of which goes to show that even the big names with all their resources can be copied in China. It’s a crying shame. It is far easier to copy than to innovate.

However, one thing the big companies will have in their favour is that they will have registered their brand as a trade mark. At the end of the day the LandWind car won’t ever have the Land Rover brand name on it, and its sales will be limited simply by virtue of the lack of brand awareness.

There’s a lesson here. If you want to export ALWAYS register your trade mark first!


Lending against your IP assets – fact or fiction?

April 1, 2014

how-to-work-out-the-true-cost-of-borrwingMany businesses recognise that their patents, trade marks and copyrights are hugely significant to the business and that these issues are important Board room topics. A well known brand has enormous pulling power and in today’s consumer lead society, it pays to be associated with the right brands. Technology protected by a proper patent portfolio will deter the competition from copying; and in today’s content driven society, a good website and copyright material can make or break a business. Why is it then that IP is so over looked when it comes to attributing a value to it or lending against it?

Many businesses don’t put a value on their balance sheet for IP for the simple reason that accounting standards don’t allow it unless the IP has been “bought in.” As a result of this historic standard, many SME’s are now choosing to hold their IP in an IP holding company, thereby acquiring the IP in from the trading company, and attributing a proper value to it. This has the added benefit of holding the IP at arm’s length from the uncertain trading conditions of a trading or manufacturing arm of the business. Transferring the IP is a relatively straight forward procedure but care must be taken to:

  1. Obtain a proper valuation of the IP to be transferred.

 

  1. Ensure the IP is legally assigned by a specialist IP lawyer.

 

  1. Ensure the IP is licensed back to the trading company for the purposes of protection from copying, the patent box etc.

One of the main issues at the moment is finding a valuation that is robust enough to withstand scrutiny, without spending a fortune. This is possible with some on-line valuation tools. More complex valuations are also undertaken but are generally only used where there is a damages calculation to be done for the purposes of litigation.

The good news however, is that the UK Government is pressing lenders hard to take account of IP assets in business. This means that some lenders are now seriously looking at lending against IP portfolios. This firm has in the last 2 years undertaken securitisation of a £1.5 million trade mark portfolio and has advised pension funds lending against brand assets. We’re also aware of specialist lenders who will lend to businesses against IP licensing streams. We completely welcome this change of attitude by lenders. In fact as IP is now usually the major contributor to company value in our view it can’t come soon enough.

Elizabeth Ward

Virtuoso Legal www.virtuosolegal.com

Contact liz@virtuosolegal.com or 0113 237 9900 and 0207 406 7490