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Dragons' Den, Episode 4, Series 18

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Designs, IP, Patents, Trade marks

The Den, a place of soaring dreams and searing heat. Every week I watch with anticipation to see whose businesses are worthy of Dragon investment and whose pitches are about to go up in smoke!

This week’s episode was just as exciting as the last. We had it all, fashion to clubbing, travel and romance, software development and even an Olympic bronze medallist. I was hooked.

“I’m not going to take this lying down”

First in the Den was Noel Marshall accompanied by a Olympic bronze medallist. Noel stepped enthusiastically into the Den declaring that he had invented a contraption to relax muscles that cause lower back pain. “Just what I need!” I thought to myself as Sara Davies jumped up to test out the product.

As I’m getting older, unfortunately injuries caused by exercise are becoming more common and last a little longer than they used to in my youth. It’s not just exercise that causes these issues for me though, its everyday life. It could be my posture from sitting at a desk, the way I slump forward to check through my phone or read a book. Sometimes, putting a pillow behind my back doesn’t quite fix the issue. I was keen to find out more information on Noel’s innovative back roller.

All the Dragons looked ready and eager to put their questions to this budding inventor. Just as I was thinking it, Tej asked “What IP do you own? Do you have a patent? Have you registered the design”?

To which Noel replied, “I have a patent design”.

That’s not a thing.

Understanding the different IP rights doesn’t have to be scary. Intellectual property consists of many different areas, from logos and corporate identity through to products, services and processes that differentiate your business offering. It’s when these assets are used without permission that a person or organisation can potentially run into issues.

That is why it’s so important to know your patents from your trade marks and your designs from your copyright!


In the case of the back roller, Noel stated that he had registered the design.

Designs protect the overall visual appearance of a product including the shape, appearance, decoration and configuration (how different parts of the design are arranged together). For example, the shape of a Coca Cola bottle is a registered design and so legally can’t be replicated.

To learn more about designs, watch our short animation and see how Sarah & George grow their business by registering her designs:


Is Noel on a roll?

Deborah declared that untangling Noel’s business was too much of a guessing game. The other Dragons followed suit and declared themselves out, but Sara Davies was still keen to work with him. She wanted to secure 35% of the business for her 100k investment but she had deeply underestimated Noel’s negotiating skills and he soon managed to squeeze her down to accepting 20%.

Family Secret

Another entrepreneur to grab my attention was Sunny Mudhar who took all the Dragons by surprise with his opening line of “Will you marry me?”. I’m a romantic at heart, so hearing that Sunny’s business sprang from his love of three things: romance, food and travel, I was keen to see where this pitch was going to go.

Sunny enthused that his idea for his sauce-based business 'Family Secret' came from his world travels whilst on his honeymoon.  He and his wife would take in the sights and try new flavours from around the globe. Sounds like a dream!

However, one Dragon in particular was keen to point out how competitive the market is and Peter didn’t think his logo or brand could grab the attention of the consumer.

The topic of branding comes up every week in the Den, but why?

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.

Registering a trade mark isn’t as expensive as you might think. Starting from £170 when applying online, a trade mark will last 10 years until it needs to be renewed. The cost of an initial trade mark application depends on the number of ‘classes’ in which it needs to be registered. When applying to register, you use the classification system to define the goods and/or services area you'll be marketing in. One class is included in the cost of a trade mark application and extra classes cost an additional £50 per class. Read our guide on how to classify trade marks for more information.

Unfortunately for Sunny, none of the Dragons felt enough love for his product to make him an offer of investment and he walked away disappointed.

We’ve talked about a lot of different types of intellectual property in tonight’s blog. If you’re wondering what IP assets you might have in your business, the free and easy-to-use online IP Health Check tool can help you identify your IP assets and provide you with the next steps on how to protect them.


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