It's a rapstrap, and you've been caught

Fans of the Boomtown Rats may not be aware that the Intellectual Property Office (formerly the Patent Office) has for a number of years provided an opinion service, which enables anyone to test their case for patent infringement before commencing expensive litigation.

However, fans of the BBC TV programme Dragons’ Den probably will, following the opinion from the IPO concerning Rapstrap.  Unbelievably, the inventor of the Rapstrap cable tie, who secured £150k of investment from the dragons Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan in August 2008, appears to have infringed a patent for a product he invented whilst in the employment of another company.

This begs at least a couple of questions:

  • what IP due diligence was carried out prior to the dragons making their investment in Rapstrap?
  • what does the investment agreement say about any prior art/IPRs?

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