Feeds

Dragons' Den winner infringed own patent, IPO rules

He's out

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.