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Dragons’ Den, Episode 3, Series 18

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Confidentiality, Patents, Trade marks

This week's Dragons’ Den had me smiling at the TV and covering my eyes shortly after as a new batch of entrepreneurs began their quest to lock horns with the Dragons. I always wonder how I would fair in the Den, or if I would be at all brave enough to pitch my ideas in front of the fire breathing Dragons!

Nevertheless, one thing that’s always been important to me after any stressful situation is self-care. Self-care can come in many different forms to everyone, but for me it’s all about relaxing, unwinding, and pampering myself with new lotions and products.

“Saving the planet shouldn’t cost the earth” - Deborah Meaden

I was excited to see entrepreneur Emma Thornton up first in the Den with her planet-friendly business, 'True Skincare'. With Emma stating that her products were vegan-friendly, organic, affordable and luxurious, I was intrigued to see where her pitch would go, and it wasn’t long before Sara Davies complimented Emma on the packaging and branding.

I can be quite an impulsive shopper; I often find myself with a long list of things I need to buy and very little time to research reviews on the latest products, so I rely heavily on whether the packaging and branding appeals to me.

But what exactly is a brand?

A brand is more than just a name, logo or slogan, it is the ‘identity’ of a business and offers customers assurance of what product or service level they can expect to receive. Protecting these elements by registering them as a trade mark can help build credibility, warn off potential copiers and open windows of opportunity such as franchising or licensing.

Having a trade mark is a vital factor to building a brand. The marketplace can be crowded, and it can be difficult to distinguish your business from your competitors. A trade mark is an efficient, commercial tool to capture customer attention and make your business, products and services stand out.

Skincare fanatic Emma was seeking £75k for a 5% stake in her business and it wasn’t long before the investors were duelling it out to make her a range of offers. Fortunately for Deborah Meaden, Emma accepted her offer of a 12% stake in her business and I for one am looking forward to trying her organic range.

If you want to build it Wanger Flange on it

The next to catch my eye, and my sense of humour, was Cumbria based entrepreneur Paul Robinson who hoped for a 50k investment for a 25% stake in his business that started from humble beginnings. In case you’re wondering, the Wanger Flange is a movable joint that can be used in construction.

Like myself, Paul enjoys a trip to IKEA and is always left marvelling over the random names of the products, which is where he came up with the name of his invention: 'The Wanger Flange'.

Investment blackbelt Taj Lalvani commented that he thought the Wanger Flange was a great invention. But what do you need to do to protect yourself before you showcase your inventions to the public?

As we have mentioned in our blogs many times it is absolutely vital that you do not talk to other people about your invention without a non-disclosure agreement in place. If your patent is already in the public domain in any format you will not be able to patent it.  Before seeking a patent it is always worthwhile seeking advice from a patent attorney.

You can use a patent to protect your invention. It gives you the right to take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports it without your permission.

To be granted a patent, your invention must be all of the following:

  • something that can be made or used
  • new
  • inventive - not just a simple modification to something that already exists

Before you apply, check if a patent is right for your business.

Unfortunately for Paul, none of the Dragons made an offer, with Touker Suleyman stating that the door is still open. Watch this space!

Well done to all of tonight’s entrepreneurs. Don’t forget, the IPO offers a great range of resources (including learning tools, events and short videos) to help you better understand IP before you enter the Den.

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