Dragons' Den winner infringed own patent, IPO rules
A man whose invention caught the attention of millions of television viewers may have infringed a patent he applied for himself ten years ago. A contestant on the Dragons' Den TV programme may have to defend his invention from legal action.
Andrew Harsley appeared on the programme and convinced two of its panellists, Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan, to invest £150,000 in the Rapstrap, a plastic cable tie.
But the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has said that the invention is already partially covered by a patent owned by a company Harsley helped to found. He has since left the firm.
Millepede's patent for the reusable plastic strip lists Harsley as the inventor. Harsley has said that he has since been awarded patents in China and Mexico for his own Rapstrap product.
Harsley left Millepede to set up Rapstrap, but his name is on Millepede's patent for its strips, which was granted in 1999.
Millepede asked the IPO to conduct a full technical review of Harsley's Rapstrap to see if it infringed its patent. The IPO found that the strip did possess characteristics covered by Millepede's patent.
"The Rapstrap cable tie falls within the scope of claims 1 and 5 of the patent," said examiner Steven Morgan.
"I was amazed when Harsley, who had previously founded the Millepede company, forgot to mention Millepede’s existence on the programme," said John Butterworth, managing director of Millepede. "Then afterwards all the parties showed a lack of interest in talking to Millepede about our prior patent. I hope this official review will now change that situation.”
The review is just an opinion and does not grant Millepede any new rights. If it wants to stop Harsley from selling his strips or force him to pay licence fees it will have to do so through the courts.
David Fry of law firm Agile, which advised Harsley, told The Scotsman newspaper: "The opinion will have no bearing whatsoever on an infringement action in front of a court because they will firstly address the issue of validity."
Harsley had won a £35m contract for up to a billion units of his cable ties and the invention was touted as one of the success stories of entrepreneurial challenge programme Dragons' Den.
Millepede sells a variety of ties and rods for securing bags, plants or cables, including Mille-Ties, anchors and cable rings.
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Some clever person invents something and starts up a company to sell it. Later on in life he sells the company and starts inventing again and produces something new that shares some characteristics with his previous invention and the the old company he founded now wants to get thier sticky paws on his new invention and stop him selling it?
What a bunch of w****rs, and just more proof that the patent system is nothing more than a way for lawyers to get rich and companies to stifle innovation.
I hope they get told to feck orf in court if they decide to take it down that route.
"Give it a fucking rest, you're showing your age"
Would be a valid point. Except I am only 23.....
While there never was a 'standard' English language, there were always rules and syllabuses in place in order to guide people in the teaching and use of it. Nothing wrong with griping over a personal pet hate of how these rules are now being ignored our language is dwindling and dumbing down ever closer to that of the Orwellian 'newspeak' now is there...?
You could have saved yourself some physical exertion in the way of typing and a fairly large rant, had you not made the assumption that I was an oldie.
Re Michael Habel
Cable ties are commonly used in IT, for tying cables......