Strix is the world leader in kettle controls. With 56% of the global kettle control market, their products are used 1 billion times a day across the world. Dehns has worked with the business now known as Strix for over 50 years and has played a major role in their international growth and expansion. Laura Ramsay, Dehns Partner in the Engineering Group, has been working with Strix for 20 years and has acted as their client manager for the last 10 years. Clare Mann, Dehns Partner in the Trade Mark Group has been working with Strix for over 20 years and manages their global trade mark portfolio.
In June 2022 Dehns Partner Laura Ramsay was contacted by Strix’s IP Manager who advised that Strix wanted to enter the integrated water tap market and was considering the acquisition of an Australian company called Billi, a leading brand in Australia for the supply of premium instant boiling, chilled and sparking filtered water systems. This acquisition would provide Strix with an immediate entry point to this rapidly expanding market, and also provide them with further technology know-how.
The IP Manager instructed Dehns to undertake a due diligence project looking at Billi’s IP. The final due diligence report needed to identify and assess the strength of the IP portfolio (which consisted of multiple pending patent applications and a number of registered trade marks), in addition to highlighting the potential commercial value of the IP held within the portfolio. To provide support on the trade mark aspects of the portfolio, Laura worked with Dehns Trade Mark Partner Clare Mann, who provided significant input into the final report.
Laura and Clare were given just three weeks to undertake the research and analysis of Billi’s IP portfolio, and provide a final report which would be reviewed by Strix, their solicitors, and also Zeus Capital, which was advising Strix on financing the potential acquisition.
Laura reviewed five pending patent families and Clare located and reviewed 122 trade marks as part of the project.
As well as assessing legal status and territorial coverage of the IP, Laura provided an objective opinion on expected patent strength and potential commercial value of the technology.
Laura also commissioned a patent landscape search to see what others were doing in the market in terms of protecting their IP.
Clare provided advice on gaps in the trade mark portfolio, identifying marks that were in use on the Billi websites but were not the subject of trade mark registrations/applications. She also recommended trade mark availability searches for certain marks.
Dehns completed the IP due diligence report within the extremely tight three-week time frame.
Once the report was submitted, Laura and Clare fielded a number of questions from the various parties involved, including Zeus Capital and also Strix’s insurance broker.
Additional information was provided to clarify the scope of their assessment and confirm the status of the IP in various territories.
With all questions having been answered, and all requests for further information having been met, Strix’s acquisition of Billi went ahead in November 2022 for £38m.
Strix was delighted that they now had immediate access to the integrated water tap market, and stated that the acquisition was one of their key highlights of 2022.
This case study highlights how, with no prior knowledge of the situation or knowledge of an IP portfolio, Dehns was able to produce a thorough due diligence report in less than three weeks (a very short timeframe).
Furthermore, the report provided direct input to the acquisition process.