Wales: Longstanding IP tradition

Wales can lay claim to being one of the very first industrial economies in the world, with two thirds of its families financially supported by heavy industries under the 1851 Census. In the modern knowledge economy Wales, with a population of just over 3 million, still continues to 'punch above its weight' through active engagement with Intellectual Property (IP). Home to the UK Intellectual Property Office Wales is at the forefront of using IP to differentiate products & services in the commercial marketplace via brand/image; new technology/creations; appearance/design.

There is no more iconic a brand than 'Rolls-Royce' now owned by BMW, who used their IP position to take it from Volkswagen for £40m in 1998 after Volkswagen had just paid £790m for the two brands of 'Rolls Royce' & 'Bentley'. In Agincourt Square, Monmouth sits a statue to Rolls, who was the originator of this brand back in 1904 and whose family home (The Hendre) was in Wales. Discerning passengers in Rolls-Royce cars today heading to three star Michelin restaurants might wish to emulate their favourite characters from US comedies 'Fraser' and 'Friends' by drinking water from distinctive blue bottles (product placement by Welsh firm Ty Nant Springwater has seen increases in their sales of more than 12%). Arriving at the restaurant they will be treated to meal which is almost certain to contain a basic Welsh ingredient, Halon Mon salt (a small family business which started from boiling Anglesey seawater on the home Aga this business now licenses its IP to Pepsi Cola for use with 'Red Sky' crisps). The main course of the meal might be IP protected 'Welsh Beef' or 'Welsh Lamb'. Stars of the London Olympics, with their medals made in Wales (under trademark protection) by the Royal Mint, might afford a 'Rolls-Royce' lifestyle by following in the steps of stars of Welsh football like Gareth Bale and commercialising their image rights. Whilst Italian rugby endorses 'Welsh Lamb' to the school children of Rome, Welsh rugby prefers shirt sponsorship from 'Brains' or if needs must 'brawn' (the brewer SA Brain circumventing a French ban on advertising alcohol in 2005).

Rolls statue

Charles Rolls Statue-Agincourt Square, Monmouth (Picture Acknowledgement:www.monmouth.gov.uk)

You might wish to try catching a wave at the world's first inland surf lagoon at the trademark protected 'Surfsnowdonia Wavegarden' but if you do so you need to avoid any snorkeling because the wave generating blade is a trade secret of the business. One of Wales's most prolific inventors is an academic specialising in lasers technology, Professor Marc Clements and in 2012 The Telegraph newspaper reported the Welsh start-up business Cyden securing a £250m deal with global giant P&G for hair removal using patent protected laser technology. Sir Chris Evans is one of Wales' leading Biotechnologist and in 2015, underpinned by IP, he predicted "we will look back ten years from now at a thriving high-tech, highly skilled Welsh economy." Our Creative Industries in Wales also enjoy IP protection, primarily in the guise of copyright. The performance careers of Welsh greats Sir Tom Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey enjoys its protection, as does the writing of Welsh Musician Pete Ham (co-writer of the ballad "without you", a worldwide Number One hit for Harry Nilsson and which received two Ivor Novello Awards), as do recordings made in Wales at the famous Rockfield Studios, such as 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by the rock band Queen. TV production in Wales, such as 'Doctor Who', enjoys copyright protection, as does the broadcasting of major events, such as the Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort in 2010. The plans of our famous buildings in Wales, like the Senedd & Wales Millennium Centre enjoy copyright protection as do the writings of our famous Welsh authors - copyright ownership extends beyond death and determined the location for the Richard Burton Diaries, fought over by Swansea University and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Richard Burton is buried in Celigny, Switzerland a few graves apart from Alistair MacLean, author of the book and screenplay 'Where Eagles Dare' , a film in which Richard Burton starred with Clint Eastwood.

Cyfarthfa Castle

 Picture acknowledgement: ancestryimages.com

So from the Ironworks of Merthyr Tydfil to the high tech firms supported by our IP Wales initiative today Wales has both a proud history and an exciting future in Intellectual Property, which beats at the heart of the Global Knowledge Economy

Education for the Global Knowledge Economy-IP Wales®

Our University has committed itself to promoting ‘activities that stimulate and direct the application and exploitation of knowledge to the benefit of the social, cultural and economic development of our society’. Beating at the heart of any knowledge economy is Intellectual Property Law and we can uniquely lay claim to having within our ranks the recipient of an OBE awarded by the Queen in recognition for ‘Services to Intellectual Property and Business in Wales’.

In our first phase of European Union funded operation our mission was to raise levels of awareness and understanding of intellectual assets, allow businesses to make informed commercial choices about protecting these assets, and to help Welsh SMEs sustain and grow their businesses, by integrating an intellectual assets strategy into the heart of their business plan.

IP Copyright

Since our launch in June 2002, we have provided strategic advice to over 750 clients, helped to capture and protect 205 patents, 60 trade marks and 12 industrial designs around the World and furnished financial support for 25 IP licensing deals.

Our finding is the main ingredients for the success of knowledge based businesses are access to advanced technology & know-how, good management and finance. Our experience is a better management team will make more commercial use of a poorer technology than a poorer management team will make of a better technology and that finance will seek out good management teams. Our focus has therefore become researching the law relating to intellectual assets management and transactions.

For further inoformation, please see Making A Difference To The Welsh Economy: IP Wales® Phase One Report

Our experience of operating this award winning business support initiative is the foundation for our LLM in Intellectual Property and Commercial Practice.