Dragon's Den Product Infringes Patent

23 March 2010

The Rapstrap reusable tie strip product featured on the BBC' s Dragons' Den programme in August 2008 and received a £150,000 investment by Dragons James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne, infringes a patent of Millepede, the UK Intellectual Property Office has said.

Millipede Marketing Limited sought an opinion from the UK Intellectual Property Office claiming the Rapstrap patent infringed its European patent EP076528131 on
Millepede' s Millie-Tie. This patent relates to a cable tie in which an end unit is threaded through the aperture of another unit to form a closed loop for securing cables.

The UK Intellectual Property Office undertook a full technical review of the Rapstrap product made by Andrew Harsley, an ex-employee of Millepede. Both parties supplied additional information and details to a senior examiner at the UK patent office to allow his review, and the examiner concluded the Rapstrap product possessed all the characteristics needed to infringe the Millepede patent.

The Rapstrap has received major publicity in the UK as the most successful Dragons' Den product in the history of the program by securing a £36m order from a major distributor.

John Butterworth Millepede's managing director said: "I was amazed when Harsley, who had previously founded the Millepede company, forgot to mention Millepede' s existence on the programme. Then afterwards all theparties showed a lack of interest in talking to Millepede about our prior patent. I hope this official review will now change that situation"

While the decision is not binding it is a useful indication that the product is infringing
and if it continues to be sold the company could be liable for significant damages.

The Dragons' Den episode can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/dragonsden/episodes/s6e4rapstrap.shtml. The full UK Intellectual Property Office patent infringement adjudication is available by pdf and can be viewed at: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/op2608.pdf.

Extract from Electrical Review
N° and issue date: 2424 - 01/04/2009
Web Site: http://www.electricalreview.co.uk
Page: 4

Click here to download the pdf.