Telegraph Column with Master Cutler Craig McKay: Advantage of calling on a friend

Robots in use at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
Robots in use at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

My business is in the process of applying for its first patent. I have learned that this is an incredibly slow process, complicated and full of terms like ‘prior art’ which make the whole thing so difficult to navigate that you really do need an experienced professional to advise you.

As a Freeman of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, I am very fortunate to have access to our ‘Friends’, one of whom is a world-class patent attorney. For those familiar with The Cutlers’ Company, will be aware that in order to qualify as a Freeman, you have to be a senior executive in a manufacturing company, located in ‘Hallamshire’.

The exact boundary of the ancient geographical area is displayed within the Cutlers’ Hall, but, as Master Cutler, I can assure you that if your business has a Sheffield post code, then you are in Hallamshire. If you are not a manufacturer and therefore do not qualify as a Freeman, you may access our network as a ‘Friend’ and, in addition to having great fun, you may well get to know every manufacturing company worth knowing in Sheffield City Region.

I have the experience to know that it’s worth having ‘Friends’ because you never know what’s round the corner. It is very pleasing to find that on this occasion I need a Friend to help me with the protection of intellectual property. This is a key indicator that my business is on the right track, because our future relies on exports.

In June I will be leading a Trade Mission to Canada, accompanied by more than 20 firms from Sheffield City Region, looking for new orders and partners. The development of new products, services and intellectual property, is absolutely key to giving the companies of Sheffield City Region the export legs that will allow us to succeed beyond the boundaries of the UK and Western Europe.