Case study – Dry Like MePosted on
Using a combination of a range of IP rights to protect a new idea that filled a gap in the market – allowing the product to successfully move into an area traditionally full of big name brands – has been crucial to the Dry Like Me team of Judith Hough and Diane Titterton.
Judith and Diane came up with their idea when they struggled to potty train their own children. They felt there was too much of a jump between nappies to pants, so they created a new potty training pad to help with the transition. The pads can be used with children’s normal underwear and help children understand when they have had an accident, which is important when learning how to stay dry, without the drama of needing to change their clothes.
Having prepared very early prototypes in Judith’s kitchen, Judith and Diane met with Yvonne Johnson, partner at Barker Brettell, at a free clinic providing advice regarding IP matters. When the pair secured a government grant, through Warwick University, they contacted Yvonne to develop the product IP. At that stage they also invested grant money and their own funds towards proof of concept research and product prototypes.
Following Yvonne’s advice, a UK patent application was filed before then moving on to submitting an international patent application to cover over 130 countries worldwide, giving “patent pending” rights for a further 18 months whilst the commercial potential of the product was scoped out and partners were sought. This has now been converted to local patent applications in Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Eurasia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the USA and South Africa, which were identified as key markets and locations where partnership or licensing deals could be made.
Granted patent rights have already been obtained in Europe, Eurasia, Hong Kong and South Africa.
In addition, Yvonne discussed with Judith and Diane the fact that the look of the product was important as well its technical and functional features. Therefore it was decided that this was an important aspect of the innovation that Dry Like Me should look to protect. A set of registered design applications was therefore rolled out, to seek protection for the overall look of the pad, which has a distinctive shape and mesh-covered look. These have been granted in Africa (via the ARIPO system), Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, Japan, the US and South Africa.
Lisa King has also brought her expertise as a trade mark attorney to the Dry Like Me company. Trade mark applications have been submitted for the DRY LIKE ME name and also for the branding that has been used which incorporates the chameleon logo. Registrations have been granted in the UK, EU and further afield. Brand recognition is important in this marketplace and therefore having Lisa’s help to see how best to ensure that the brand is protected has also been key to Judith and Diane as they have moved forward with the product to a commercial level.
Yvonne said “It was fantastic to see how Judith and Diane had identified a real problem that simply was not addressed by the existing product range on the market and had come up with such a neat and workable solution to that problem. We were able to protect their innovation using patents, designs and trade marks and that security of the IP protection meant they were able to really push the product forward and look to fill the gap in the marketplace they had spotted.”
Following an agreement in 2010 with a UK manufacturer, which makes own label feminine hygiene products, Dry Like Me obtained not only a cash investment, but also sales and distribution support. This led to a first batch of products and allowed them to undertake further consumer testing. The feedback was incredibly positive and on the back of this, and being confident that the product was protected from a range of angles through the different IP rights, Judith and Diane were able to push for space on the supermarket shelves. In January 2011 they got their first listings in Asda and Morrison’s and by the end of the year they were stored in 600 stores nationwide.
Today the product is sold in over 1,500 stores, including Tesco’s, and is available on Amazon. Product sales have grown by 174 per cent over the last 18 months alone.
Yvonne added “I am really proud to have worked with Judith and Diane from the early days of the business and to have seen how their combination of a genuine passion for the product and a real life interest in their consumers, together with great business skills and a fierce determination, has led them to such success. They are an inspiration to anyone who has a new idea, to show that you can make it a reality and build a business around it.”
Judith and Diane have been delighted with the ongoing support they have received from Yvonne and the team at Barker Brettell.
“With Barker Brettell’s unquestionable support we have gone from strength to strength and are currently involved in a massive Public Relations Campaign which involves daytime TV and local celebrities. We are now an “Award winning company” and hope to gain further recognition for Dry Like Me.”
“We would like to thank Yvonne personally for her practical, step by step, no nonsense approach and look forward to working with her in the future.”
With patent, design and trade mark rights secured, Dry Like Me is now preparing to go global with its product offering, to tap into the markets in Europe, North America and further afield. The dramatic increase in sales in the UK has shown how much of a demand there is for the product and Judith and Diane are now set to take the company from strength to strength.
For more information please visit: www.drylikeme.com
Pix: L-R – Lisa King – Associate Trade Mark Attorney, Barker Brettell; Judith Hough – Dry Like Me; Diane Titterton – Dry Like Me; Yvonne Johnson – Patent Partner, Barker Brettell