An Interview with Natalie Ellis


So apparently we are, (at the time this goes to press), the only country still in recession!! It's official, and yet, even from among our own clients there are a number of success stories that seem to defy the odds.

One particular client has succeeded despite being told by some serious investors that her product wouldn't make any money (you may recall the item on the hit BBC2 show!!). Even in the face of the global recession Natalie Ellis and Prestige Pet Products Ltd have stormed into the US market and been heavily featured in the press thanks to President Obama buying one of their Road Refresher ® dog bowls.

I wanted to ask Natalie about her experience over the years both with Sanderson & Co. and with intellectual property in general. How does someone use IP to help generate and then consolidate their success and how do they learn about it in the first place?

Q: When did you first come across Sanderson & Co?
A: Early in 2004

Q: What service were you looking for?
A: I was looking for a firm to put together a patent application and so I went directly to the Institute of Patent Attorneys.

Q: Was this your first experience of IP legal procedures?
A: Unfortunately not. I had a bad experience with another agent which left one of my products insufficiently protected, the result of which was that the design was taken up by someone else and is now marketed globally. Clearly I felt very let down.

Q: How did you find the experience? That is, was it a longer process than you anticipated; did you understand what was happening and why?
A: I had a good understanding of the process, mainly thanks to Francis Gillam at Sanderson & Co. He was incredibly helpful and despite the process being a little longer than I had anticipated it was a job well done.

Q: Based on what criteria did you choose Sanderson & Co.?
A: My choice was based on recommendation. Due to the bad experience that I'd previously had I was determined only to use a firm that came highly recommended. In addition to that, Sanderson & Co. were reasonably local although that was really just a bonus.

Q: Since that initial project, have you used Sanderson & Co. for other services?
A: Yes, I've used them for trademarks, community design and of course, other patent applications.

Q: How did you plan your international approach and was Sanderson & Co. involved in that process?
A: Sanderson & Co. were involved in all the patent applications but in addition Francis also helped immensely in relation to an exclusivity agreement in Italy. It's really important that we get these agreements right and from the start so they must be given particular attention at the outset. To have the professional help was very beneficial.

Q: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs taking a product to market for the first time?
A: Always use a professional when it comes to protecting your intellectual property. It's worth the investment to make sure that it's done correctly. Also, use the professional bodies such as the Institute of Patent Attorneys to make sure that you're engaging a firm of good standing.

Q: Do you have any top tips?
A: If you believe in what you're doing then don't let anyone try to dissuade you. If I had listened to the feedback that I got initially then I'd never have achieved the level of success that I have.

Since being told that the Road Refresher ® product wouldn't sell I have since agreed to supply one of the UKs largest pet product retailers, I've broken into the US market and of course, I've even sold to the President himself. We're expanding and diversifying our range so look out for even more innovative products from Prestige Pet Products Ltd.


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