Case study: Mask-arade, Mask creator and IP protector


When developing a business, especially one that has an original concept or product, it is essential that you understand the importance of protection.

This was something that Ray Duffy. Dean Walton and Chris O’Nyan were keen to do. After discussing ideas in their local pub, the concept for Mask-arade was created. A business that would specialise in the creation and production of face masks which resembled a number of famous faces. When their trial run at a West Bromwich Albion game was a success, it was clear to them there was a gap in the market for this sort of thing.

This was then when they got serious about the details.

Following the advice of a IP expert, they decided on the name, Mask-arade and registered it as a limited company as well as purchasing the domain name to match.

In addition to this, they felt it best to also gain protection through a registered trade mark. Again using the expertise of their IP specialist, Mask-arade was registered as a trade in the European Union. At the time it was known as a Community Trade Mark, however following recent changes it would now be titled a European Union Trade Mark.

Ray explains the reasons for choosing to register the mark in the EU, not just in the UK:

“We realised early in the business that the appeal of our products was very broad. We knew that our face masks would appeal to people in foreign territories. Protecting our IP is crucial to expanding the business and brand to a global audience. We currently sell to more than 10 countries and are in discussions with larger target territories.”

After the registration of their trade mark, they believed that they had all the IP protection they needed. However, following a refusal to invest from none other than the Dragons from the BBC’s Dragons Den due to the high likelihood of copying, they started to feel the effects of a number of copycats stealing their concept and their customers.

To combat this and make an effort to stand out from competitors, Duffy, Walton and O’Nyan decided to purchase copyright licenses. A copyright license allows you to directly approach the owner of the work protected by copyright that you want to use and create an agreement in which you get the use of the image for a fee payable to the owners. This allowed Mask-arade to create masks using images that were exclusive to them, preventing others from directly copying them. This also allowed them to work with a wider range of people including popular TV shows and top football teams.

However, while this seems like the ideal solution to their problem, they found some difficulty obtaining these licenses when they were still growing as a business. However, as Ray Duffy explains, their registered trade mark gave them the edge to portray to others they were a serious business.

He says “Without doubt, having a registered trade mark has helped us to create a name and brand associated with quality products. At Mask-arade we pride ourselves on our reputation for superior artwork, product quality, client service, attention to detail and integrity.”

Following recent booms of business from a number of events including the royal events in 2011 and 2012, Mask-arade now have a large warehouse and factory where they operate from, that allows them to maintain their professional printing and finishing. With over 450 designs being created and 45 and counting copyright licenses, the only way is up for this business.

However, it is clear to see that this success was only possible due to the power and protection that IP knowhow and expertise can give you.

For further information on how to protect your brand, contact Michael Coyle at Lawdit Solicitors.

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