There were many interesting products and ideas in the Den tonight, although some were successful in securing investment and others were not. However, as someone who likes to exercise and eat healthily, I was particularly drawn to 25 year old Evie Waxman and her raw vegan treats.
Evie entered the Den looking to secure a 50k investment in return for 10% of her business Raw Bake Station. She was hoping to tempt the Dragons with her range of raw sweet treats, free from gluten, dairy, wheat and refined sugar.
As a Business Engagement Manager at the IPO I spend much of my time talking to businesses about their IP. One of the many common questions we get asked is whether you can protect a business of this nature?
Many people think that you can protect an idea, such as Evie’s food business. However, an idea alone does not count as intellectual property (IP). It is what is created from the idea - an invention, a story, an artistic work and so on - that can be protected.
Another belief is that you can protect a list of ingredients (used to create your product) with IP, which is not the case. However, many successful food and drink businesses protect their tasty creations using trade secrets, which require no application, are completely free and have no expiry date.
Although a trade secret can be a very effective form of protection, if the secret leaks out, it could be disastrous for the business. To prevent this from happening you would use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to legally bind third parties from disclosing your ideas.
Business tip 1: The best way to keep something confidential is not to disclose it in the first place. If you do need to share information you should use a non-disclosure agreement, also known as a confidentiality agreement.
To learn more about trade secrets and how they are being used by a successful business, check out our mouth-watering case study with Bubblewrap Waffle.
Although I said earlier that a list of ingredients couldn’t be protected, you may still be able to protect what you do with those ingredients. For example, Deborah Meaden was particularly fond of Evie’s cookies and noted that “It’s very hard to get crunch on a raw bake”.
Let’s say Evie had thought up a new and inventive process for putting said ingredients together, or invented a unique type of ingredient. She may be able to protect a creation of this sort with a patent.
It’s worth noting however that patents have to meet a very strict criteria. Your chances of obtaining a useful patent are much greater if you use a patent attorney. They will use their specialist skills to draft the application properly. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) can help you locate an attorney in your area.
Is a trade mark for you?
A more obvious route for Evie to protect her business would be with a trade mark and I can see that she has registered the name Raw Bake Station. Evie spoke passionately about her brand and as discussed in last week’s blog, a trade mark can be a vital component in building a brand.
If you decide to register your brand with a trade mark there are a number of things you need to consider. Most importantly your trade mark cannot:
- be descriptive of your goods and services. For example, you could not use the word ‘coffee’ for a business that makes coffee
- already exist elsewhere
- use offensive or laudatory language such as ‘the best’
- be misleading – you couldn’t say your coffee was organic if it wasn’t
To learn more about trade marks and the different criteria for applying, check out our free interactive, e-learning tool IP Equip and test your knowledge.
Unfortunately for Evie, her vegan delights weren’t enough to sweeten the Dragons and she left the Den along with her snacks…feeling a little raw.