Intellectual Stimulation

Derek Green Monday, June 23, 2014

Early last week I wandered along to Creative Scotlands HQ at Waverley Gate in Edinburgh to attend a seminar entitled “Up Your IP: Design meets Intellectual Property.’  This was a joint-event with the Institute for Capitalising on Creativity (ICC) at the University of St Andrews. It was advertised as providing creatives with legal advice and knowledge on Intellectual Property Rights, with industry experts discussing the issues faced by designers from all disciplines in today's market-place.

The seminar didn't disappoint. All the speakers were engaging and knowledgeable in their respective subject matters, and the information they provided us with was highly relevant. 

In the first session Ken Peter from KW Peter & Co, Euan Duncan from MacRoberts, and Philip Hannay of Cloch Solicitors discussed the legal issues of Intellectual Property - from knowing what our legal rights were, potential changes to the Copyright law, ensuring we used correct commercial contracts, had standard conditions of sale, considered implementing a proper intellectual property strategy for our individual businesses, and knowing who to turn to when we needed professional guidance and advice.

For the other two sessions we were treated to the IP thoughts of creative industry professionals. Dids MacDonald gave an inspiring talk about A©ID - Anti Copying in Design - an organisation that I had no knowledge of, but do now. Scott Jarvie discussed how a business strategy and IP strategy are now intertwined regardless of the size of a creative studio. 

Marisa Giannasi not only showed us objects of desire create by Method, but also gave us a refreshing insight into some of the mistakes her creative studio made in the initial stages of their being. Richard Clifford from MAKLab talked to us about how designers need to be more open with our ideas in the early stages of development, in order for them to be successfully realised. Finally Nicola Searle from the Intellectual Property Office discussed recent developments to Design Rights as well as Patent Mapping in relation to 3D printing.

So given all this fantastic and valuable information, why did I leave Waverly Gate a little frustrated? It wasn't anything to do with the speakers or the seminar content, both of which were excellent. My frustration was with the delegates or, should I say, lack of them.

"Up Your IP" was a free seminar. It didn't cost me a single penny to go. In addition to being provided with great knowledge on the subject matter, it was a useful networking event for me, plus I was provided with refreshments and a lunch too. 

What I'd like to know is where were the Scottish Design Industry? Where were the Edinburgh Creative Agencies? Were were the self-employed Edinburgh designers? 

One of the things I applaud most about Creative Scotland is their proactive approach to providing the Scottish creative industries with events - like this one - that are commercially relevant. As Jaki Love, Business Development Manager for the Scottish Textile & Leather Association, said, "If this had be a paid-for event, the room would've been full." 

According to Creative Scotland personnel, who I thanked at the end of last Monday's event, several Scottish design agencies had signed-up for the seminar but failed to show. This strikes me as being rude, apathetic and completely mad.

For large design companies, who have a staff development and training budget, then I'm sure they don't lose sleep over whether their staff attend a free event or not. For small studios like mine, who need to count every penny, attending a free professional seminar is one of the ways we can access information that will benefit our businesses and help us to grow.

There's a danger that if the Scottish creative industries don't support events provided by publicly funded bodies, suddenly we'll find budgets are cut and symposiums like this will happen less frequently. This would certainly have implications for the smaller design studios and self-employed creatives who rely on these events. In summary there really is much in the saying "Use it or lose it!" If you do sign-up for a free event - whatever it may be - then at least have the decency and good manners to attend.

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