If you want to discuss any aspect of BiCon Continuity publicly, by far the best place to do so is here.
Continuity was delighted to hear the positive update from Claire H, BiCon 2019's team leader who is close to finalising the booking with Lancaster University and hopes to be able to announce dates soon. Watch this space – their website 2019.bicon.org.uk will be up and running soon.
Rachel S who ran the successful 2017 BiCon in Leeds received clear and enthusiastic support from the Decision Making Plenary for her bid to run BiCon in 2020.
We have also received expressions of interest in 2021 which is great news following our recent post about advance planning being helpful.
Getting involved – Volunteers still wanted!
All of these teams will need volunteers both to join their teams and help BiCon happen on the day. Continuity are happy to pass on any offers of support sent to us to support 2019, 2020, 2021 teams in any capacity.
Due to changes in how many universities are organising their student accommodation and other changes in practice by banks that makes opening bank accounts for community organisations more time consuming and administratively difficult, Continuity is asking people to start thinking about planning for future BiCons earlier than has historically been the community's practice.
Claire will be running BiCon in 2019.
But for 2020 and onwards we need volunteers. We're posting now to give you time to think about this pre-BiCon and to enable you to talk to people at this year's BiCon who have been involved in organising teams (who are up for these conversations) in previous years before committing yourself.
Continuity is happy to pass offers of assistance to Claire for 2019 and to coordinate offers to lead a team and to assist for 2020 and onwards. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested with your contact details.
Roles within teams vary in size and depend on the structure of the team. Within a team there will need to be people who can use telephones, who are available during the working day, who can use a booking system, who understand finances and so on, but not being able to do any of these things isn't a barrier to being involved in a number of roles within a team. If you would like to shadow somebody in a role before potentially taking on the role yourself in a future year, we can try to help you arrange this.
If you have previously been involved in organising a BiCon and you're happy to answer questions about it, please email us too, so we can put people in touch with you.
BiCon Continuity (Karen, Natalya, Hessie, Ian, Elizabeth)
BiCon Continuity Ltd are delighted to announce that a new BiCon team has been formed. They are led by Rowan Alison with Carol Tierney and Steve Ratcliffe as core members.
The new team have already done and continue to do a lot of work to ensure BiCon 2018 can still go ahead.
Everyone who contacted Continuity to volunteer should have received a response and had their details passed on.
The new team have posted their introduction here.
Update on BiCon 2018 on behalf of BiCon Continuity.
BiCon 2018 has a venue which needs deposits paid shortly. Many of the team who agreed to put on 2018 have had to withdraw.
We believe remaining team members are still happy to offer:
* Workshop coordinating and room allocation
* Someone who can help with some finance
However, what is needed if BiCon 2018 is to happen at all are:
1. Team leader who can invest time in coordinating the team, getting the BiCon back on schedule and having the buck stop with them.
2. Venue wrangler who can deal with three separate venue organisations for daytime, evening and accommodation spaces. Needs to be able to use phones, email and be confident with bureaucracy before, during and after BiCon.
3. Bookings person who can manage booking software, match records, and deal with bookings enquiries from attenders in a prompt and friendly manner.
All these volunteers, who may be multiple people, would need ongoing commitment to be part of an organising team.
What 2018 need now is people who can make phone calls during the working day, to sort out the venue and get to the point where BiCon 2018 can accept payments, and a couple people to manage the workload and organise volunteers, so the current volunteers can restrict themselves to roles they have capacity for.
BiCon Continuity can provide deposit money, a copy of a budget already devised by Ian and some advice. We cannot offer much assistance beyond that – we too are short of people and time.
If you are someone who can do admin, phonecalls and other aspects of BiCon please contact email@example.com, with your contact details, what role/tasks you can offer and confirmation that we can share those with other potential team members.
Other roles which will be needed but are slightly less urgent are:
A. Ents organiser
B. Desk coordinator (recruiting volunteers to run desk, listening team etc)
We would also like to reassure the wider community that BiCons have been organised in less time than this one, including ones which attenders felt were well run. However there is no way this or future BiCons can be achieved without more volunteers. The amount of organisation required to open bank accounts and secure/deal with a venue has rocketed in recent years – running the actual event, where many people do willingly volunteer, is the visible easy part.
At a recent BiCon there was a workshop on what people would expect at a "basic no-frills BiCon", "a typical BiCon", and a "Taste the Difference type BiCon". The lesson was that the key is a venue and a bunch of bisexuals (and allies). Once these are sorted, extras can be added fairly easily by many more people.
Bookings will only open once 2018's basics are in place and it is certain the event will run. There is still time for bookings to be sorted in plenty of time for people to book cheap train fares.
Finally, please could everyone remember that everyone involved with BiCon is a volunteer, offering their time and energy around many other commitments such as day jobs, caring/parenting, disability or health problems, and have to pay for travel and accommodation and take time off work just like everyone else. Keeping morale up by keeping social media positive and constructive would really help.
Many thanks, to all past, present and future volunteers, including those who have had to face tough decisions between competing commitments and haven't been able to continue with BiCon.
BiCon Continuity (Hessie, Natalya, Elizabeth, Karen and Ian)
I am posting on behalf of BiCon Continuity trustees.
We have made the difficult decision to ask Katie S to withdraw from running BiCon 2018. BiCon is behind schedule and a great deal of work needs to take place in the next months, just when Katie is unavoidably very busy. We have therefore asked Katie to step aside entirely so that another person or people can take on organising in their own fashion.
There are many reasons for 2018 being behind schedule including volunteers having to pull out, life circumstances beyond Katie's control, and Continuity not being able to provide the level of support Katie wanted or needed.
Continuity would like to thank Katie for what they have contributed and achieved for BiCon 2018 which includes tasks which don't get a lot of visibility or kudos but are vital. We hope the community can be kind and supportive to Katie.
Another post will be made shortly about next steps for BiCon 2018.
The idea of having a trade mark for BiCon has been around for almost as long as the idea of having a company to protect the community's money.
The name is valuable: people pay in advance to attend just on the basis that it's a 'BiCon'. But although it hasn't happened very often, there have been several attempts from outside the community to call something a 'BiCon' when we wouldn't recognise it as such. That would damage our reputation, built up since 1984.
One such – I think it was going to be run by a sexual health organisation in Yorkshire – was intending to limit attendance to people who defined themselves as bisexual, for example. If you want to run your event like that, you can… but it's not a BiCon. (See #2 of the BiCon guidelines for a start.)
However stopping them calling it one would have been difficult: we'd have to bring an action for "passing off" which would involve proving that we had rights in the name, a reputation for it, there was a risk of confusion amongst potential attendees, and that we'd suffer actual harm etc.
Now, it'd be much simpler: it can be a criminal offence to misuse a registered trade mark in this way, and we'd just point to it and say 'no'.
Why's it taken so long?
For one thing, it needs a continuing organisation as the owner. There'd be little point in any one year's team registering it, for example. Then there's been the need to get agreement to pay the money: £200 for ten years, reduced to £170 by taking a deep breath and skipping an initial phase which would have saved money if the registration had been rejected. That was made possible by spending quite a bit of time learning about the Intellectual Property Office's rules to be sure enough that it wouldn't be.
Oh, and dentures.
There's a company called Bicon Dental Implants who applied for a European registered trade mark for the word back in 1998, getting it in 2000.
When you register a trade mark, you have to say what it will be used for, including which of the forty five different categories of goods and services it covers. This means it's possible for two different entities to have the same trade mark in different fields.* However as well as having it in Class 7 ('motors (not for land vehicles)') and Class 10 ('.. dental implants ..' etc), it also covered Class 41 which includes conferences and education – the class we want.
Fortunately, you also have to say exactly what in the class you're going to use it on, and their trade mark is limited to "Education and training in the use of dental implants and related goods; provision of information relating to dental implants and related goods; arranging and conducting of seminars in the use of dental implants and related goods".
So it's been possible to get another trade mark for the same word in the same class, by – amongst other things – saying that none of what we do is in relation to dental implants or related goods.**
What's our trade mark cover?
° Education and training relating to sex and sexual health;
BiCon is 'education' as far as UK VAT rules go…
° Provision of information relating to sex and sexual health;
… and it provides information around sex and sexual health.
° Arranging and conducting of events concerning sex, sexual health, and related topics;
This is what each year's team does.
° Information, advisory and consultancy services relating to all the aforegoing;
See the 'for organisers' pages on bicon.org.uk, for example. Our knowledge and skills are valuable – in future, we could offer them for hire…
° Arrangement of conferences for educational purposes; Arrangement of conferences for recreational purposes;
° Arrangement of conventions for educational purposes; Arrangement of conventions for recreational purposes;
… whether BiCon is a conference or a convention 🙂
° Arranging and conducting of games; Arranging of quizzes; Arranging of visual and musical entertainment; Party planning;
Finally, we have a reputation for throwing good parties!
Why 'sex' rather than 'bisexuality'?
The BiCon Guidelines need to say what it is; the trade mark needs to be capable of including what it isn't, and the latter is far more specific than we need to be.
There's a joke which says that, as far as people writing applications for trade marks and patents are concerned, a cat isn't a 'cat' but 'any kind of furry animal'. I'm not claiming it's particularly funny, but the point is that if you have a patent / trade mark relating to 'cats', that's all it covers. If someone does the same thing except with dogs, it is a lot harder to challenge them.
(One real life example is smart cards – one of the people with a basic patent was just thinking about embedding microcomputers in watches, but the patent was written widely enough to cover what turned out to be their real uses. If they'd just talked about watches, they'd be a lot poorer.)
So yes, the aspect of sex that BiCon is primarily concerned with is bisexuality and it's currently primarily a real-life get-together over a long weekend, but the protection should not be restricted to that or tied to that format.
If it was and someone wrote a book which claimed that bisexuality is a con and doesn't exist… and called it 'BiCon', we would still be able to have an action against them for 'passing off', but it'd be a lot harder, less certain of success, and vastly more expensive. Now we could just have it pulped and they'd have to choose a new name.
On the other hand, the scope cannot be too wide. If it's not something that is recognisably what happens now or over the next five years, we risk losing those bits for lack of use.
What about the logo?
If BiCon had a consistent logo, we would have considered having a registered trade mark for that too. But as every single year has come up with a new one, there's no point.
What will change?
You will see a few ® symbols on BiCon websites 🙂 Once you have a registered trade mark, you have to make it clear that it is one rather than a generic term.
Apart from that, not much. Unless and until the community decides to licence the word so that someone can use our reputation for their event or publication or service, it's effectively an insurance policy.
* So until Apple Inc won a court case, The Beatles' Apple Corps company had the rights to 'Apple' in relation to music and Apple Inc had them in relation to computing. Someone else has them in relation to windows, furniture and conservatories etc, and because of restrictions on what your trade mark can be, no-one has them in relation to fruit!
** There's also a UK company that has had BICON as a registered trade mark in four classes related to cables since 2001. But as it doesn't have any in Class 41, we don't need to exclude cable-related conferences.
Bicon 2017 needs you. The team is forming, but definitely needs more people. If you've ever been interested in making this wonderful even happen, please let BiCon Continuity Ltd* know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No organiser roles are currently set. You might want to oversee the whole, or do the accounts, or the bookings, or the entertainments, or…
There is a quote from a prospective venue in Leeds that looks promising. For more on running a BiCon see: http://bicon.org.uk/for-organisers/less-official-guidelines/
Elizabeth, Hessie, Ian, Karen and Natalya.
* We're the charity that looks after BiCon's money. There are currently five trustees and we will all see the email. Or catch one of us this morning – sorry we aren't wearing anything distinctive.
Most years, it is the Decision Making Plenary (DMP) at a BiCon that approves bids to run future events.
As there had been no volunteers to run BiCon 2015 by the end of BiCon 2014's DMP, the responsibility fell to us to approve any bids.
We are delighted to announce that we have approved the bid of Rowan to run BiCon 2015. This will be Rowan's 25th UK BiCon, and she has been in charge of more of them than anyone else. We have every confidence that it will be at least as good as the other ones she has run.
You can find out more about BiCon 2015 at its website, 2015.bicon.org.uk – we hope to see you there.
It'll get better 🙂