Monday, March 31, 2014

Post from the Outgoing Chair of PATLIB UK

Today's posting is a much belated post (blame the current chair not the outgoing one!) by Maria Lampert the outgoing chair of PATLIB UK who has steered the ship for a number of very successful years and is now moving on to bigger and better things at the British Library.

Thank you to Maria for all her hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and for passing on the Pink Pig of Power!

She will be sorely missed, so without further ado I give you Maria.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye!

When I was asked to write a post for the PATLIB blog as out-going Chair I thought great, I am sure I can find something to say. Well, the first attempt challenged War and Peace for length and the second wouldn’t have been out of place in one of those warts and all magazines! So, leaving out all the boring procedural bits (sighs of relief from everyone in PATLIB UK), and also leaving out all the ‘what happened’ at Conference stories (sighs of relief from anyone who has ever been at a PATLIB Conference with me!) I apologise in advance for my offering.

When I was asked to join the Patent Information Network (or PIN as it was known then) as the British Library’s representative what seems like a long time ago I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I found was a group of dedicated library staff from library’s up and down the UK all working to one end – to bring Intellectual Property information and, more importantly, understanding of intellectual property, to the general public. That hasn't changed.

The way we work has though, we've gone from patents on micro fiche and hard copy editions of the IPC with its accompanying Catchword Index, to desk top computers and  CD-ROMs, and finally, to the many and varied electronic IP databases we have at our fingertips today. We had to train ourselves in all this new technology before we could help the public. Like swans calmly floating on the surface of a lake whilst furiously paddling underwater we try to keep abreast of the swiftly changing patent information landscape whilst confidently assisting our users on their journey to patent their inventions, or not as the case might be. The inventors that used and continue to use our facilities rely on us to help them not make that often costly mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel and I am sure you will agree that every inventor we have stopped from wasting time and money on an invention that already existed was and is as much a success as the ones we have helped take their ideas to grant.

What fun we have all had!

With so much intellectual property information being freely available via the internet the needs of our users have changed and what we have to offer our users has had to change to meet those changing needs. We now offer workshops and clinics and various guides and factsheets all written by PATLIB staff and, more recently, we are all branching out looking at ways to help the would be entrepreneur in setting up their business. The BIPC blue print roll out and the BIPC Wiki will go a long way to ensuring that we are all offering similar services to our users. The Standards and Constitution that all of the PATLIBs signed in 2007 now needs updating to allow for all of the changes in the way we work, the facilities we have to hand and what we are going to offer our users and I know the new Chair, Luke Burton, is already working hard on the amendments.

I think the signing of the Standards and Constitution in 2007 is one of my proudest moments as PATLIB Chair. Stef Stephenson from Leeds, Christine Brown from Manchester and I spent very many hours perfecting the document and we sent it out to all 13 PATLIBs, if I am honest, not really expecting every library to sign it but hopeful they would none the less. And they all did. The decision to band together and self regulate was a first for any PATLIB Network Worldwide and we were approached by the EPO PATLIB Committee who asked if they could have a copy of our Standards and Constitution with view to rolling a version of it out to the rest of the networks.

Other high points include the opening of PATLIB Cymru in Llandudno Junction and PATLIB Manchester hosting the PATLIB 2012 Conference. The speed networking event we held in the Renaissance Hotel during the conference was a first for many of our European PATLIB colleagues and was talked about for a long time afterwards. The visit to Man United’s Old Trafford football ground was a high point of the conference for all the footie fans. The low’s? Well, there weren't many except perhaps PATLIB Bristol withdrawing from the network.

I have truly enjoyed my time with PATLIB UK and am grateful for the help and support I have received from all of you, but a special mention has to go to Stef Stephenson without whose assistance my work as Chair would have been that much more difficult.

So I am handing over the responsibility for representing PATLIB London to my colleague Philip Eagle, who will I know bring a fresh viewpoint and fresh ideas to the network, and I am handing over the Chair to Luke Burton of PATLIB Newcastle from whom you can expect great things. I will still be working at the British Library and my contact details remain the same so you know where I am if you need my help at any time.
In the words of another perhaps more famous Maria (yes, believe it or not there is one!) “So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye!”…….for now anyway.

Maria Lampert

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

News from the PATLIB Network

Apologies to everyone for the delay in posting this article; we will make up for it with some extra postings in March so keep your eyes peeled!

This posting is a great piece written by Stephen McFarlane who is Information and Learning Service Manager for Libraries NI and is based in Belfast.

This is a great example of the interest that intellectual property, and patents in particular, can hold for people working in diverse fields, not least of all local and family history. It also demonstrates the type of complete service that you can receive from a public library using a range of resources. 

So sit back relax and enjoy!

Belfast Central Library- Equine Adventures Down Under

Sometimes patent information isn't about the future but about the past, this is an interesting example……

Bill Ronald emailed us from Berwick, Australia asking for patent information about cast iron stable fittings and stalls he owned, manufactured by Musgrave’s of Belfast between the 1840s and 1870s. He had already unsuccessfully tried various Australian libraries.

Having found nothing in the online resources, we searched our historic hard copy collection and were able to emailed  him scanned copies of the relevant U.K patents taken out by James Musgrave in 1867, Patent 993- ‘Fittings for stables, harness rooms, and cow houses’ and Patent 2698- ‘Improvements in stable, cow house, and harness room fittings’. 

We were also able to provide information on the history of the Musgrave company, which primarily manufactured cast iron heating stoves. They traded in Belfast from the early 1800s until the 1960s and exported all over the world, the pre First World War German Empire being one of their biggest markets.

The stable fittings were originally purchased from Musgrave’s by a Melbourne based horse trading establishment called Kirk’s Bazaar, founded in 1840. This was a very successful company, particularly during the 1860s Australian Gold Rush. When the company folded in 1925 Bill’s great grandfather (who owned and trained Australia’s greatest ever steeplechase horse, ‘Mosstrooper’) purchased the 2 ton stable fittings and stalls.

The items consist of 1 complete fully enclosed stable, 3 tie up stalls, 3 stall, tie up, water, feed and hay rack sections and 5 decorative cast iron horse heads. Some of the stall posts are embossed with the Royal By Appointment and the Royal crest, along with mention of the relevant Musgrave patent. 

It all sounds like a 19th century version of an IKEA flat-pack. The stable equipment was buried at the family farm for decades and dug up only last year by Bill. He has already started restoring the items by sand blasting them and hopes to paint them and reassemble them for display in a purpose built building.

Bill Ronald's Musgrave pieces

Bill was very pleased with the information we sent him and said-

“Thank you for your welcome email and helpful advice, a pleasant change to receiving no reply at all. You really have been to a lot of trouble and I really appreciate it. Thank you again most sincerely for your assistance.”

Stephen McFarlane 
Belfast PATLIB