Feeds

Dragons' Den winner infringed own patent, IPO rules

He's out

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

See: The IPO's opinion (11-page/449kb pdf)

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.