Tackling the Dragons’ Den – Turning an idea into an investible reality

I often have clients calling me to say they have a ‘brilliant idea’ and it is turning that bright idea into a commercial reality that is the key to any entrepreneurial success story.

This is what happened with my clients Geoff and Colette Bell. They approached me with an idea a range of dermatologically tested, irritation free children’s hair care products, alongside bath time adventure books. It was a concept that could not be patented as it was not a novel invention, so we had to look at other ways of protecting their concept.

Geoff had developed an idea for characters to be part of the products which were based on the couple’s children ‘Raging Rosie’, ‘Awesome Annie’ and ‘Busy Bob.’ The name ‘Shampooheads’ would be the brand name.

While we were unable to register a patent, Geoff already had designs and a great brand which we could seek to protect at the earliest opportunity.

We successfully registered the brand name and character names as Trade Marks, and the drawings of the characters were also registered as designs at the UK Intellectual Property Office. As an external designer was used for the branding, we ensured that all copyright and designs of logos and images were vested in Geoff’s company. A legal agreement was put in place to transfer the rights.

We were also able to ensure that the Shampooheads concept remained confidential during the crucial early stages of development. Through having a Non Disclosure Agreement signed by any recipients of information, you can then take appropriate legal action should it be breached.

From its launch in 2012, the company has progressed from strength to strength, expanding internationally and securing £75,000 investment from BBC’s Dragons’ Den in the process by gaining the financial backing of Hilary Devey and Theo Paphitis.

After initially securing an exclusive agreement with Boots, it has now grown to work with a number of distributors. In the UK, it distributes to 350 independent pharmacies through Alliance Skills in Healthcare, and is also sold in 179 Waitrose stores.

Internationally, it is forging ahead with its expansion plans its products are on sale in 750 Coles supermarkets in Australia, more than 200 shops across Ireland, and are also stocked in Spinneys in Dubai. Interest has been expressed from distributors as far afield as China and the United States.

The development of a successful distributor network has benefitted Shampooheads greatly, but when using distributors, it is extremely important to take legal advice on the negotiation of contracts to ensure protection and control of intellectual property rights in the products and non competition between their other suppliers.

Shampooheads has come a long way since our initial meeting, and we look forward to working with them as they continue to grow. Contact us to find out how we can help your business idea become reality.

“The sound advice and direction from Pippa has allowed us to secure our brand identity with a focus on design and branding rather than product novelty. This has been vital to our business concept. We are delighted with the expertise and support provided.”  Geoff Bell, Shampooheads.

Pippa Aitken is Head of the IP Unit at Newcastle law firm Sintons. Contact her on 0191 226 7842 or pippa.aitken@sintons.co.uk

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