Dragons' Rapstrap is undone by patent law

A product widely hailed as the most successful ever to appear on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den has suffered a setback at the hands of the UK Intellectual Property Office.

The Rapstrap, a reusable plastic binding tie, debuted on the show in August 2008, when it won a £150,000 injection from Dragons James Cann and Duncan Bannatyne.

Thanks to the backing of the investor duo, the Rapstrap generated major publicity, helping secure its maker Andrew Harsely an order from a distributor worth £36million, the biggest order yet for a product from the Den.

But Millepede, a company which once employed Mr Harsely, complained to the UK's trademark officials that Rapstrap infringed its own patent, which was already in force.

After each making their case to the IPO, an examiner upheld the claim, saying the Rapstrap product appears to have all the characteristics needed to infringe Millepede’s patent for its 'Millie-Tie' product.

“I was amazed when Harsley, who had previously founded the Millepede company forgot to mention Millepede’s existence on the program,” said the firm's managing director John Butterworth.

“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.”


Mar 20, 2009
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