As I write this article the Wimbledon tennis tournament is over, the England Cricket team are deployed in that most British of summer sports (playing against India) and the UK seems to be emerging from a summer heatwave, an event that was quite un-British. The heatwave had an impact upon businesses, family life, holiday plans, day-tripping and eating habits and so, in the manner of a light summer salad, we thought that in this month’s newsletter we would explore a light miscellany of summer related IP topics.
As you apply the Factor 50 to your skin from your favourite brand then you are right to assume that most of the major players have protected their brands with trade marks. Some have gone further and successfully patented particular features of sun protection products. Revlon holds a patent for sun screen hair protection (although there are plenty of companies that make similar UV-protecting products). Cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden owns a patent for a product that combines the formula for sunscreen with the added benefits of green tea, which has antioxidants said to help fight cancer as well as keep the skin looking fresh.
Balls as old as the hills
As most cricket-lovers will know, the cricketing world does not have a single standard cricket ball. The home nation gets to choose the type of ball used and the choice boils down to either a “Duke” type ball (habitually chosen by England) or a “Kukaburra” ball. The “Duke” is hand made, has a higher profile seam (liked by English bowlers) and has different characteristics (starts to swing later in the game as its lacquer wears off). The “Kukaburra” is machine manufactured, more durable on hard pitches, has a less prominent seam (therefore less seam movement is expected) and retains it’s hardness for longer (it is liked by quick bowlers on dry Australian or African pitches).
Duke & Son are said to have been granted a “royal patent” for their cricket ball back in 1775, but that is long after the Statue of Monopolies (1624) which outlawed the use of patents as a form of royal patronage. I’m guessing, therefore, that they were awarded a genuine innovation patent, maybe I should track that down as a summer project? Let me know if you’d like me to.
Cricket balls are, of course, very heavy and potentially dangerous objects. Sadly Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707–1751), died of complications after being hit by a cricket ball and, in 2009, the Cricket umpire Alcwyn Jenkins died in Swansea after being hit on the head by a ball thrown by a fielder. I recall watching one of my schoolteachers being invalided off the pitch after being hit on the side of the head while umpiring from square leg; thankfully he recovered and was able to get me through my French 'O' level. Perhaps we should have done something safer, like motorsport?
As high as a kite
If you make a trip to the seaside and if the wind conditions are favourable then you may see that timeless item of seaside entertainment, the humble kite, flying aloft. Kites are believed to have been invented in the 5th century in China but this invention is being taken to new heights by today’s researchers and scientists. Power generation using different types of kite design has recently been proposed and patented. Google Inc has filed a US patent application which proposes an airborne rigid kite with mounted windmills and generators. Patent applications have also been filed for ship based kites which, in the right conditions, can be deployed at sea and capture additional energy via the kite mounted turbines. We live in a fascinating world!
I trust that you are enjoying the summer and please do let me know if I can help with any intellectual property queries, whether they are summer-related or otherwise.