ProtectaPet has developed a range of innovative cat fencing products. As its European sales grow, it's being just as smart with its IP
Based in Stoke on Trent, ProtectaPet was founded by Simon and Eve Davies as a result of a lost cat. Over the past five years, ProtectaPet has built its business in a distinct niche - cat fencing. The company makes and fits security fencing to stop wayward moggies from straying away from home.
It turns out that there are many reasons why cat owners are turning to ProtectaPet rather than asking their local handyman to put up a fence. Cats are naturally agile and inquisitive; ProtectaPet’s combination of product design and trained installation engineers who can ‘think like cats’ provide cat owners with the peace of mind about their cat’s safety and wellbeing.
The ProtectaPet USP is an overhanging bracket that prevents the cat from escaping. This fixture, which can be attached to fences and posts, is the clever bit - and it is that the company has protected with a patent.
The company’s mission is “to provide world-class and revolutionary preventative cat care which enables every cat to access a safe outdoor territory and every cat owner to experience total peace of mind.” In other words, it’s an optimal solution between having a free-roaming pet and trying to keep it domestically house bound.
“We are international leaders in product development and innovation,” says Eve Davies, communications director at ProtectaPet.
Up to now, trading has been solely domestic. (After all, the UK is a large market; there are estimated to be eight million cat owners.) ProtectaPet reckons that they have saved 11,000 cats to date. The company has grown to £1m turnover, with eight employees. Cat fencing may be a niche market but it is one in which ProtectaPet claims to be the world leader by turnover.
But the vision is for ProtectaPet to be a global household name for cat owners. In the past year, a promising first step has been made into the Netherlands market via a local contractor. A German distributor has been working with the company for the past four years and a Swiss distributor has just been signed up.
How to protect IP
One central issue that had to be addressed before committing to European expansion was about IP. What protections could be put in place to make their IP more secure in Europe?
There were many questions.
While ProtectaPet knew about the extent of patent protection for their unique bracket, they were concerned about protection from international ‘copy cats.’ Were there other companies trading under their name, or similar, in other European markets? Was ProtectaPet infringing on the artwork or logos of other companies?
Conducting an IP audit
At this point ProtectaPet made contact with EEN.
One way in which EEN supports businesses such as ProtectaPet is with a part-funded IP audit, delivered in partnership with the Intellectual Property Office. The audit is intended to provide a business with a strategic overview of its IP assets, including registered and unregistered IP rights, and to assess their commercial viability. The report is tailored to the needs of the business and includes recommendations and steps to take to fully maximise the value of its IP.
The result showed that ProtectaPet had a good level of IP protection in place, with their ambitions to expand into Europe, They have now developed an IP strategy with EEN and their IP lawyer to take the recommendations forward.
The company is continuing to recruit further European distributors as well as supplying directly through Amazon with the launch with a new and simplified DIY kit.
“EEN supported us with identifying our IP and understanding how to value it,” says Eve Davies. “The IP audit was a rigorous process that enabled us to systematically evaluate the costs and benefits of protecting our innovations and intellectual property. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this service to other innovative businesses.”
Find out more about the IP Audit
The IP Audit offer forms a part of Innovate 2 Succeed (I2S), a dedicated innovation management support programme which provides businesses with resources, tools and expertise to:
- stimulate innovation
- access funding
- commercialise through new markets.
Each business receives tailored support through a bespoke package of modules, which can include the IP Audit, and are delivered face to face and / or remotely. Contact your local EEN adviser to find out more.
EEN supported us with identifying our IP and understanding how to value it
Communications Director, ProtectaPet