Innovation Matters – from idea, through R&D and partners to exports and growth

One of our Directors, Ross Kay, will be speaking at the Innovation Matters seminar on 30 April, 2014 at the University of Hertfordshire Biopark in Welwyn Garden City. This event is being organised by Enterprise Europe Network East  along with Exemplas, the Design Council and UK Trade and Investment. Ross will be speaking about intellectual property and providing a grounding for those who are new to it, or want to fill in gaps in their knowledge. More details and an on-line booking form can be found on the Enterprise Europe Network East website.

 

 

Will the Coca-Cola secret recipe stay secret for much longer?

For some, one of the allures of the Coca-Cola® drink is that the recipe for the beverage is secret. Recently, Coca-cola has bought a 10% stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Some years ago, Green Mountain/Keurig developed and sold a single-serve K-cup brewing technology, which like the Nespresso system uses pods to allow customers to prepare single coffee servings without having to make an entire pot. The technology was patented, but the patent expired late in 2012.

However, now with the help of Coca-Cola, Green Mountain is now working on developing and launching the Coca-Cola soft drink portfolio for use in a new cold beverage systems, which should be on sale in early 2015. So how long will the recipe stay secret? Already a small raft of patent applications have been filed on the subject of making carbonated drinks. While it might at first seem like home-brewed Coca-Cola drinks spell the end of the recipe being kept secret, it’s really no different to buying a bottle of the drink and taking it home. 

However, Green Mountain’s strong patent position may have been one of the contributing factor’s to Coca-Cola’s investment in the company and, no doubt, the “content” provided by Coca-Cola will contribute to the success of the technology. The one-shot technology, like with coffee, adds a certain caché to the experience, which is no doubt more in keeping with how Coca-Cola would like their product to be perceived.

Some interesting facts about Coca-Cola’s early days …

  • The drink was created in 1886 by John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist.
  • The drink was named “Coca-Cola” by Mr Pemberton’s bookkeeper.
  • Atlanta businessman Asa Griggs Candler secured rights to the business between 1888 and 1889.
  • The recipe once used coca leaf, but now uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract prepared at a Stepan Company plant.
  • The Stepan Company plant is the only manufacturing plant authorised by the US Federal Government to import and process the coca plant.

More information about the company can be found on Coca-Cola’s website.

According to Interbrand, he Coca-Cola brand is the world’s third most valuable brand after Apple® and Google®, valued at $79.2 billion.

They think it’s all over …

… Well it isn’t now! When a football competition is not protected by competition law

A recent court decision on a matter of copyright and competition law concerning the broadcast of Premier League football matches may have radical repercussions for the way football and other sports are funded.

Following a ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in October, the High Court recently quashed a conviction against pub landlady Karen Murphy for showing English Premier League football matches using a foreign decoder. The decoder and card were bought from Greece, rather than the card and decoder supplied by Sky® television, who own the broadcasting rights for Premiership football in the United Kingdom. The cost of showing the Premiership matches through her Greek decoder and the Greek TV station Nova was 800 pounds per year, rather than the 700 pounds through Sky.

It is a Court case that has rumbled on for six years following a prosecution for showing live football at the Red White and Blue in Portsmouth, when Mrs Murphy had been fined over 8000 pounds.

There were questions raised regarding both copyright law and competition law. In a previous judgement in October 2011, the CJEU ruled that having a system that permitted exclusive broadcasting rights in one country was “contrary to EU law”. The Premier league would therefore have to try to rely on copyright law to protect their rights.

The CJEU ruling continued: “National legislation which prohibits the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.”

The result was not an outright win for Mrs Murphy, as copyright law could still be used to protect the football matches. According to the CJEU, the opening video sequence, the Premier League anthem, and pre-recorded clips showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and various graphics could be protected by copyright.

“By contrast, the matches themselves are not works enjoying such protection,” says the ruling. Despite this, the Premier League, understandably, decided to focus on one aspect of the ruling, saying “Should Mrs Murphy, or any other publican, use European Economic Area foreign satellite systems to show Premier League football on their premises without our authority and outside the scope of our authorisation, they make themselves liable for us to take action against them in both the civil and criminal courts.

The Premier League raises vast sums of money from Sky subscribers. Indeed, it is Sky money that is often credited with the rise of the Premier League and the overwhelming success of British teams in European football competitions, and their ability to sign world class footballing talent. Premier League teams are reliant on the money they receive from broadcasting rights. Arguably, this ruling could introduce competition into the field, which may benefit consumers in terms of the price they pay to watch football, but may have a significant impact in terms of how football – and other sports – is funded.

The wider legality of screening football matches is yet to be decided, and a lot of interested parties are keeping a very close eye. However, one way in which broadcasters may be able to strengthen their position is by ensuring broadcasts are “watermarked”. By this, we mean that certain copyright materials, for example information in the background where a match is being played or some form of continual on-screen translucent logo presence, can be incorporated into the broadcast. Similarly, breaks between match play and replays can be separated by a short video sequence that attracts copyright. This way, even if competition law cannot be used to prevent unauthorised broadcasts, copyright law may be of assistance as removal of the watermarks is impractical.

Procter & Gamble trade mark lawsuit filed

HABA-Davion sued over a number of P & G brands

The Procter & Gamble Company (P & G) has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against HABA-Davion, Inc. for trade dress and trademark infringement involving several beauty care brands.

HABA-Davion manufactures and distributes health and beauty private label products to retailers.

The lawsuit relates to the Secret(R), Old Spice(R) Red Zone(R) and High Endurance(R) brands. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. Federal District Court in New Jersey.

P & G’s Chief Legal Office, Jim Johnson, said:

“As in other cases we have pursued successfully, this is a clear case of infringement, designed to feed on the goodwill of our brands and confuse consumers.”

“By filing this lawsuit, we are asking the court to enforce this area of law,” Johnson added. “We encourage these companies to compete fairly with us, based upon their own designs and within the letter and spirit of the law.”