Intellectual Property | Cashing In On IP

A British inventor who was refused a loan by his bank refused to let the idea drop and realised that he did have something of worth he could use to raise the cash – his intellectual property.

Stephen Weston dreamed up the idea of a new seat belt designed for pregnant women, the PIXie Harness. He created a prototype and won a first round of seed funding but was then turned down by his bank for more funds, as they said he already had high-net-worth individuals backing him, so didn’t need them.

However, he found out that he could take advantage of a little-known clause in pension legislation that allows people to invest their pension into intangible assets.

Mr Weston discovered that he could use his intellectual property to fund the new invention through the patents he had been grated and the trademarks he had registered.

Following his own investment and development of the product, the PIXie Harness has now been covered by the BBC, ITV in the UK and CBS in America, and retails in the UK, Europe and across the emerging markets. It has also been supported by baby charity Tommy’s.

As Mr Weston says, it takes a long time from thinking up a good idea to getting it into the shops and pension-led funding can allow the owner manager of his kind of business to get the higher level of investment they need without involvement of third parties, such as venture capitalists or banks.

He added that set-ups are inherently risky in the early stages, but if the worst happens and the invention does not make it or the business goes bust, the IP is ring-fenced and protected from creditors by the pension scheme.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London