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Dragons' Den IP Blog - Series 21 Episode 14

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Business, Copyright, International, IP, Patents, Trade marks

From yard art to supplement drinks, there were a range of products to whet everyone's appetite in this week’s Dragons' Den episode!

Dragon Sara Davies

Creating Art

First up are Grant and Charlotte who are cofounders of Yard Art UK Ltd. Their artwork for outdoor spaces is UV, waterproof and weatherproof resistant and easy to install. Their artwork helps transform a boring fence, wall or courtyard into a place which is more inviting.

The couple are asking for £50,000 for an equity stake of 25% with the hope that the support of the dragons will help drive more traffic to the E-commerce website and develop the business into something which can go global.

Sara Davies started the questioning by asking Charlotte if she created any of the wall art herself. Charlotte pointed out that one of the images on display was hers which really impressed Sara.

Grant and Charlotte, cofounders of Yard Art UK Ltd

You can’t brush off copyright

Charlotte's artwork is automatically protected by copyright and she therefore does not have to apply or pay a fee. Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission.

Copyright protection starts as soon as the work is created. Once your copyright has expired, anyone can use or copy your work. The length of copyright depends on the type of work. For artistic work copyright protection lasts 70 years after the author’s death.

There isn’t a register of copyright works in the UK.  You automatically get copyright protection when you create:

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography
  • original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
  • sound and music recordings
  • film and television recordings
  • broadcasts
  • the layout of published editions of written, dramatic, and musical works

You can mark your work with the copyright symbol (©), your name, and the year of creation. Whether you mark the work or not doesn’t affect the level of protection you have.

Copyright prevents people from:

  • copying your work
  • distributing copies of it, whether free of charge or for sale
  • renting or lending copies of your work
  • performing, showing, or playing your work in public
  • making an adaptation of your work
  • putting it on the internet

Drawing things to a close

Despite the low margins Grant and Charlotte were working on when selling through John Lewis, Sara saw potential in the company saying, “of all of the people we get walking through those lift doors, I see in front of me people who need a Dragon more than anything else”.  Sara went onto say “While you’ve been talking, I’ve been drafting up a new business plan down here and I think with “50,000 investment and a lot of support there is a long way you can go with your business”.  Sara then offered the full amount but wanted £50,000 for 35% of the business, but in 18 months’ time this would drop to 25% if she got her money back.

Next up was Steven Barlett who showed interest after Sara hinted at a partnership.  Steven took a quick glance at Sara’s business plan and offered half the money for 17.5% of the business which then drops to 12.5% after 18 months, provided he gets his money back.

Receiving a joint offer from both Sara and Steven was exactly what Charlotte and Grant wanted as Sara has a background in crafts and Steven can help with the social media.  The couple didn’t hesitate to accept their joint offer and leave with £50,000 and a new business plan from a partnership of Dragons which could rocket ship the company.

Steady hands

Next to face the Dragons are Tori Deely and Carrie Salmon, founders of the company Nailpad. The duo are asking for £60,000 for a 35% share of their business.

Their product provides a portable manicure and pedicure surface that holds polish and helps keep the hand steady when painting nails.

Tori Deely and Carrie Salmon founders of the company Nailpad.


Tori and Carrie have intellectual property nailed

The pair came up with the idea, design and prototype 10 years ago and have been trading since October 2019.  They have turned over £7,000 to date and have a UK, US and EU patent and they have registered their design and also have a UK trade mark.

It’s great that Tori and Carrie already thought about overseas protection because IP rights are territorial. They only give protection in the countries where they are granted or registered. This means that if you only have UK protection, others may be allowed to use your IP abroad without infringing your rights. So, if you are thinking about trading overseas then you should always consider registering your IP rights there.

You can either file separate applications in individual countries or make use of an international process which allows you to file in several countries at once. You can protect your invention in many countries using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). You can read more about these procedures in our protecting your patent abroad guidance.

Failure to nail down any funding

The low number of sales concerned Dragon Peter Jones who delved deeper into this.  Tori and Carrie explained that most of their money was put towards protecting their intellectual property (IP), and to date have spent £90,000 over 10 years in doing so.  As a result, marketing has been done but on a limited budget.  Peter Jones worried they protected the IP so much that they forgot about selling the product.

Although it’s important that you protect your IP, you need to make sure that the potential benefit of your IP will outweigh the time, effort, and money it takes to get and maintain one. We strongly advise you to seek legal advice before applying.

Unfortunately, while the couple have kept on top of their IP protection, the Dragons weren’t sold on the product and the hurdles of getting into retail with a one-line product. Touker Suleyman did however offer to provide a couple of sessions to have a chat and give them some input and direction.

Carrie and Tori walk away without any offers from the Dragons, but leave the Den incredibly positive with the journey and looking forward to what the future might bring.

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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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