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Dragons' Den IP Blog - Series 21 Episode 8

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

Watching this episode on a very wet and grey February day, it was unsurprisingly the gummy sweets with a purpose and the sustainable beachwear brand that really shone out to me from the Den this week.

Deborah Meaden in the Den

Trying to sweeten the deal

Joe Woolf’s bright and breezy pitch warmed up the Dragons immediately. He was hoping to secure a sweet deal for his confectionary business. More than just a sugary treat though, his flavoured gummy sweets, Tasty Mates, have an important message attached: check in on a friend and see how they’re doing during these hard times and perhaps even indulge in the snack together.

For all the energy and enthusiasm that the Dragons had for Joe they couldn’t quite find the same enthusiasm for the brand itself.

Deborah Meaden gave Joe some advice to chew over that could help make the Tasty Mates proposition more appetising:

… until you’ve worked out a compelling story, I don’t think you’re going to sort the brand out…it isn’t just the shape of the pack, it’s everything, and until you know what you are, you will end up spending another half a million pounds messing around.

A perfect pair?

Joe Woolf and his Tasty Mates sweets in the Den

Regular readers of this blog will know how often the subject of brand comes up both inside the Den and here, on our blog. 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.

A good brand needs to be distinctive and in fact, that’s also the criteria for brand protection. A registered trade mark (link) is used to protect brands and helps distinguish the offering from one trader to another. It must be distinctive and not descriptive of the goods or services.

A registered trade mark can be a word, phrase or logo, and can even be a shape, colour, sound, aspect of packaging or any combination of these. It is also a ‘promise of an experience’ and offers consumers assurance about the nature of the product or service they will receive.

In the case of Tasty Mates, one by one the Dragons declared themselves out, all because they didn’t believe in the strength of the brand, until there was only one Dragon left. Although Peter Jones had similar reservations he said he couldn’t stop thinking about the product and offered Joe the full £60,000 investment he was hoping for, but for the much heftier stake of 20% of the business. Joe jumped at the chance. I’m sure they themselves will become ‘tasty mates’ as well as having a lucrative business relationship.

Sealing the deal

As a massive lover of a beach holiday, just seeing Dave Weller’s brightly coloured beachwear products even before the man himself had entered the Den, my mind was transported to sunnier climes. If the prospect of a beach product wasn’t enough, imagine my excitement when Dave immediately mentioned the patented functionality of the sealable waterproof pocket within the swimwear!

As Dave explained more about the investment he was after for his company, Randy Cow, it turned out that the patent itself was owned by another company. This use of another company’s IP can be a really useful strategy, especially where saving time is important. A business may get its products or services to market more quickly by acquiring a  licence (link) to use existing IP, instead of re-inventing the wheel.

Dave Weller's sustainable swimwear with pockets enter the Den

The outlook is sunny

Dave's pitch had obviously got Touker Suleyman thinking:

You’ve got an opportunity in this sector. All you need is a designer to come in fresh and put together a collection using all your credentials of recycled fabrics.

While licensing IP from others can be a very useful business strategy it’s always worth thinking about how best to protect the IP assets already in the business. Touker’s advice got me thinking about the other types of IP rights Dave could look to protect: designs.

Designs (link) are automatically protected by design rights. These can protect your design in the UK for 10 years after the design was first sold or 15 years after it was created, whichever is earliest. Registered designs offer even more protection and last up to 25 years.

You can protect the look of your product in the UK for as little as £60 with a registered design. This covers all aspects of the design including the appearance, physical shape, configuration and decoration. The registration gives you exclusive rights for up to 25 years and if someone was to ever copy or steal your design, it would make taking legal action more straightforward.

It was another investment for Peter, who saw the potential in Randy Cow. He persuaded Touker to join him, bringing his manufacturing and fashion credentials to the business. The Dragons were happy to share the investment of £80,000 for 40% of the business.

What a great episode! With its focus on friendship sweets and swimwear, I have high hopes that warmer weather is just around the corner.

Did you enjoy this episode? Keep a look out for more upcoming editions as we follow the BBC Dragons' Den series.


The purpose of the IPO's Dragons' Den IP blog is to help identify the IP in entrepreneurs’ pitches and highlight how IP works, or could work, in the real-life examples featured. IPO’s authorship of this blog does not constitute its endorsement or sponsorship of any products, individuals or businesses referenced within it.

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