LEVI ROOTS sauce ‐ patent, design, trademark protection
Levi Roots was an instant hit on Dragons' Den. With a little ditty on his guitar, Keith Graham (aka Levi Roots) walked away with a piece of Peter Jones' heart and GBP50,000 of Peter's money for 40% equity.
Levi Roots made a chilli sauce under the brand REGGAE REGGAE SAUCE ‐ a perfect balance of hot chilli and Levi Roots cool, rounded by a gust of garlic puree.
But, why did Peter choose to part with GBP50,000 instead of creating his own chilli sauce? What protection did Levi Roots have?
The Reggae Reggae sauce contains:
water, sugar, barley malt vinegar, concentrated tomato paste, onion puree, red scotch bonnet chilli puree, garlic puree, ginger puree, ground Allspice (0.3%), spring onion, ground black pepper, paprika, ground coriander, herbs (uncharacteristically vague; likely, weed), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, modified maize starch and colour (plain caramel).
… a list of ingredients common to many sauces. You could try your hand at combining these ingredients and hope for something palatable. If you did so, no‐one could complain. But, isn't there a line you should not cross?
For a food recipe to be patentable, you should train your sights on a "technical effect". Think: Space Candy, or better still, a Whizpopping Frobscottle! Merely changing ingredients, and concocting "the World's most tasty sauce" is unlikely to pass patent examination. You can even start with your favourite sauce's published ingredients ‐ it isn't "secret". Nothing wrong here. So, patent protection is unlikely.
What about the bottle? Can you copy it? If it is not design registered, you may. We couldn't find a design registration for the Reggae Reggae sauce bottle, but stumbled over these … and added Wally for some good, wholesome fun.
So, if you may "copy" the published ingredients and use the same bottle, what can't you do in this culinary Tatooine? Basically, avoid registered trademarks.
A quick search reveals registered trademarks that would prevent you from:
… "Obstacles" that are easily / willingly surmounted.
Basically, Peter Jones bought Levi Roots' story. Peter believed that Levi was marketable. That Levi Roots had a unique marketing angle. That Levi would resonate with customers.
Dragons' Den Levi Roots clips have been viewed 1.7 million times on Youtube. You could not buy this marketing at under 3 pence per view. Peter's GBP50,000 was an investment in a marketing opportunity ‐ not in patents, designs or secret formulas. And, this investment generated a reputation / goodwill in the LEVI ROOTS / REGGAE REGGAE brand, which reputation can be protected by the trademark registrations … forever.
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