From an early age, it was clear to see that Laban Roomes had an entrepreneurial flair. Having come from a working class background, he was always thinking of weird and wonderful ways to earn extra money and support his family. By the age of 19, Laban had established a decent business importing and exporting cars and had paid off his parent’s mortgage – a great achievement at such a young age. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances later lead to the collapse of the business leaving Laban homeless, with only £80 to his name.
Determined to be successful, Laban got straight back on the horse, researching different industries before deciding to pursue an idea that had intrigued him during a visit to the U.S. After working tirelessly for months, Laban designed and manufactured an innovative gold-plating process and in 1995 the Goldgenie business was launched.
Laban’s first clients were some of the leading car manufacturers such as Bentley and Rolls Royce who used Goldgenie for adding luxurious and bespoke details to their vehicles. As the business grew in strength, Laban expanded the range to include mobile phones, mp3 players, jewellery and sportswear amongst other items.
In order to protect his work from copycats, Laban made the decision to register his intellectual property. Goldgenie are currently the owners of several design rights and the company name and logo is protected by a registered trade mark which is covered across Europe and pending in Australia and the U.S.
Protecting his IP gave Laban the confidence to branch out into other areas and he launched an international franchise (the granting of rights to an individual or group, to market a company's goods or services within a certain area) permitting the franchisee to manage the Goldgenie brand and make a profit from any sales generated.
Whilst the franchise scheme brings in extra revenue for the company and helps to grow the brand globally, there are added risks in allowing others to sell goods using your brand. However, Laban is assured that his trade mark is protected under the necessary classifications “Goldgenie are covered in the areas of gold-plating, jewellery and luxury gifts and gold solution which covers our niche market beautifully and protects us in these activities”.
In addition to this protection, Laban believes that registering his IP rights has also made his business more credible, “It has made us more respected in the eyes of our customers and potential investors”.
At present, Goldgenie are continuing to expand the franchise network and their work is being recognised internationally. Laban’s products were distributed at the 2006 Emmy Awards and his work has been championed by James Caan of the Dragons’ Den and Simon Woodruffe, founder of Yo! Sushi! He has also won awards at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2013 and at the FSB London Business Awards 2013.
After working so hard to establish the Goldgenie business, Laban recognises the importance of protecting his IP and the impact it would have if someone were to infringe his work, “It would be awful to know after all the hard work I have put into the company that someone could take away all the hard work over night and cause problems for us to expand into a particular country – business means a lot to me as it has enabled me to give to my loved ones and provide a great life for my family.”
Laban is now using his knowledge to mentor young entrepreneurs and new businesses. When asked what advice he would give to those thinking of protecting their IP, Laban urged them to act quickly, “Don’t hesitate; it may be one of the best investment and business decisions you ever make”.
To find out more about the potential IP in your business, take a look at IP Equip. This is a free online training tool to help you gain more knowledge about IP and to understand the impact it could have on your business. IP Equip is part of ‘IP for Business’, a free online range of business support tools designed to help you better understand, protect and exploit your IP assets.