Sunday, 20 January 2013

Preston: The Harris Museum

Last September I blogged about Preston Guild, an extraordinary city wide celebration which takes place once every 20 years.  One of the events that I attended was the Ladies of the Guild reception where I met a number of interesting women who play a prominent rote in business, local government and the professions in Preston.  One of those ladies was Gemma Rooke, Business Development and Fund Raising Assistant at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.

The Harris is an important institution for the country and not just the city and region.   It houses several of the works of Preston's best known artist, the 18th century portrait painter Arthur Devis, his son Arthur William who is best known for his Trafalgar paintings and Arthur's brother Anthony who painted landscapes. There are also important watercolours, sculptures and books in the Museum's Fine Art Collection,  Fine Arts, moreover, is just one collection.   Others include archaeology, costume and textiles, local history including everything one could possibly want to know about the Guild and a fascinating collection of scent bottles from the 18th century.

For me the most interesting thing about the Harris is its work in the community which extends way beyond Preston and North West England as The Cotton Exchange Project shows.   One of the events to which Gemma kindly invited me was "Doing Business at the Harris" on 4 Dec 2012. Sadly, I was travelling back from court in London that day so was unable to attend.  The highlight of the event was a talk by John Ward  of Napthens.  

That firm represented the successful party in John Richardson Computers v Flanders and Another [1993] FSR 497 one of the early  cases on copyright in computer software.  One of its current intellectual property practitioners is Benjamin Dredge to whom I have recently linked through Linkedin.

I am looking forward to doing much more work in Preston.   I am planning a half day seminar on recent developments in IP for local practitioners in Spring which will include talks on the new small claims jurisdiction, the patent box and the unitary patent.   Should anyone be interested please call me on 0161 850 0080 or use my contact form. You can also follow me on Facebook, Linkedin, twitter and Xing.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

NESTA in Manchester

The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts ("NESTA") was in Salford Quays on 8 Nov 2012 on the second leg of its road show  to share its plans for the future, showcase its work in each local area and build new networks across the UK. It will be in Cardiff on 10 Jan, Birmingham on 19 March and Belfast in May. Some of those sessions were recorded and  you can download and watch the morning presentations and a question and answer session with Alex Connock of Shine TV from the Manchester Live Stream page.

In the afternoon we had a choice of sessions:
  • Creative Councils;
  • Impact Investment; and
  • Plan A, Plan B or Plan I.
I chose "Plan A, Plan B or Plan I" which was supposed to focus on how we can foster innovation for sustainable growth and considered the Manchester Independent Economic Review by New Economy (an association of the local authorities in Greater Manchester) and NESTA's Plan I.  I had previously discussed Plan I in “We’re in the Middle of an Innovation Strike” which I published on my chambers website on 20 July 2012.   I found myself generally in sympathy with NESTA - though I think the idea of funding investment from the sale of 4G licences is impractical - and generally out of sympathy with the Manchester local authorities.   

One of the exasperating things about living in the North is the failure to acknowledge that the M62 corridor between Leeds and Liverpool is a linear city not all that different in population or topography from Los Angeles County.  Here the Pennines which barely clear 2,000 feet are seen as a barrier justifying duplication of infrastructure and services in a way that the Santa Monica Mountains which are somewhat higher are not. The Plan A, Plan B or Plan I encouraged this myopia by focusing on development in Greater Manchester and ignoring Merseyside and West Yorkshire.

The roadshow, however, attracted speakers and delegates from across the region and presented a marvellous opportunity for making new, or, indeed, restoring lost connections.  If you can get to Belfast, Birmingham or Cardiff the roadshow is well worth attending.