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Intellectual Property & Wales

29 July 2016 | Posted in News

Each year in August, Welsh culture is celebrated with the National Eisteddfod; a historic travelling commemoration alternating between North and South Wales and attracting around 240,000 visitors annually. According to the Eisteddfod itself, most of Wales’ innovative writers, musicians and poets have previously been involved in the competition-based festival, with many performers appearing on stage for the first time at this very event. So where does intellectual property (IP) slot into this cultural carnival you ask? Well, being a natural platform for creators and performers, we see it vital that these innovators are aware of the importance of IP to protect their work! 
 
Wales is a country jam-packed with incredible inventions, delightful designs, brilliant brands and cracking creativity, and probably the most famous creator in Welsh history is Cardiff-born children’s writer Roald Dahl. Dahl penned such classic books like The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and many, many more. Dahl’s work is automatically protected by copyright and the rights to his work will last until 2060 as copyright protection will lasts for 70 years after his death. This means that anybody currently looking to use or distribute his work until then will need to seek permission from the Dahl estate as the copyright is still in force. 
 
Another celebrated innovator to hail from the green, green grass of home is fashion designer Julien MacDonald OBE. His distintive dresses and lavish looks have confirmed him as a brand fit for A-list and high street customers alike including Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Registered Design rights are vital to the fashion design industry who enforce such rights to protect the appearance of a product; whether it’s the whole product or a part of a product, design protection can last for up to 25 years. 
 
There have been many inventions plucked from a Welsh brain that have altered the world, but one of the most famous was way back in 1878, when David Edward Hughes (from Bala) invented the carbon microphone; an early model for the several carbon microphones used in most telephones made throughout the 20th century. To protect his cracking ideas Hughes would have needed to be safeguarded by a patent which gives the owner the right to stop anybody else making, using, or selling the idea. A patent can be kept in force for up to 20 years from the initial filing date.
 
As you can imagine, Wales like any other nation has a whole range of successful brands from Subzero or Joe’s ice-cream to Admiral Insurance and The Depot which each need to have a trade mark (a sign or symbol which distinguishes goods or services of one business from another). The original meaning of the word "eisteddfod" was a gathering of people "sitting together”.
 
The festival itself has not registered the word Eisteddfod as a trade mark; it’s been registered instead by a Chinese electronics company (for reasons unknown) situated in Beijing back in March 2015. 
 
Once registered a trade mark can be protected forever in the UK as long as it’s renewed every 10 years, allowing you to put the ® symbol next to your brand, which warns others away from using it.
 
So when wandering around this year’s Eisteddfod in the market town of Abergavenny, try to spot the different trade marks, the inventions that could be patented, the designs that may be registered or even the creations protected by copyright before visiting the Cracking Ideas stand.
 
For free lesson plans, activities and exciting competitions don’t forget to visit www.crackingideas.com because whatever you or your students create or plan to create, learning about intellectual property will ensure you all get the credit you deserve! 
 
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