Dragons' Den: the Intellectual Property blog

By Intellectual Property Office

The Dragons were particularly fiery in this week’s episode, which meant hopeful entrepreneurs needed to be hot on their intellectual property (IP) to secure an investment. Maternity wear, summery cocktails, clay crayons and construction accessories were among the inventions debuted, but only two received the Dragons’ seal of approval.

First, let me introduce myself. I’ve worked at the Intellectual Property Office for close to a year now and my role is a Policy Advisor within the Places Strategy team.

Baby fever in the Den

The first set of entrepreneurs to catch my attention were sisters, Alex and Jenny, who wowed the Dragons with their sustainable maternity clothing company named Pretty Mama. The duo asked for £30k in exchange for a 20% stake.

Sara Davies was moved by Alex and Jenny’s relatable pitch, which highlighted the problem of body confidence after giving birth. The lack of attractive clothing options can often make women feel even worse.

The star product was a minimalist pink jumper with an innovative hidden zip on the chest to help new mums breastfeed discreetly. It was music to my ears hearing that this was protected by a registered design!

Registered designs protect the appearance of a product including shape, packaging, patterns, colours, and decoration. This type of IP right is essential for Pretty Mama’s growth. It grants ownership over the unique zip placement that differentiates this jumper from any other pink zipped maternity top on the market.

How could Pretty Mama’s registered designs help them monetise their IP?

It’s important to protect your IP so that you can stop counterfeits entering the market, but the team at Pretty Mama could also consider exploiting their IP to help grow their business further. Registering their design gives them plenty of options to consider, regardless of the Dragons’ investment:

·       Licence it

If the maternity zip feature caught the eye of a big retailer, Alex and Jenny might want to licence out the registered design for a fee, for other brands to use. This would generate income without needing to spend their own money on production or staff costs.

·       Secure a loan against it 

Alex and Jenny could use their registered design as security for a loan, which means that the mortgagor has a legal right in your design until you repay the loan. This could be a handy way to secure extra funding to kickstart business growth.

·       Sell it

Alex and Jenny could even sell their registered design if they wanted to free up some cash. Both still work full-time outside of the business, as they haven’t made enough revenue to take salaries from Pretty Mama yet.

The clever zip design and environmentally friendly upcycled materials were a big hit. Pretty Mama secured full investment from four of the Dragons, with Peter Jones telling the sisters: “You’ve basically got the Avengers now!”.

Sara Davies holding her hand up


Written by Jennifer McFadden

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