A creative idea paired with strategic use of intellectual property (IP) laid the foundation for a successful business opportunity for “mumpreneur”, Mandy Haberman of Haberman Products Ltd. Some of her most iconic products include the award-winning Anywayup® cup and the recently-launched Haberman® Suckle Feeder. Patents protect her innovative technologies from copycats and generate licensing opportunities, while attractive designs and clever branding contribute to the products’ popularity with consumers around the world.
In 1990, after observing a toddler spill blackcurrant juice all over her friend’s cream-colored carpet, Mandy Haberman was inspired to find a solution to leaky trainer cups that would prevent such accidents from occurring again. This resulted in the “Anywayup® cup,” the world’s first state-of-the-art, totally non-spill “sippy cup.”
All my inventions have begun with the identification of a problem that needs solving.Mandy Haberman, Founder and Creative Director of Haberman Products Ltd.
In the beginning, selling the Anywayup cup through major points of sale, such as supermarkets, was difficult due to their reluctance in dealing with a one-product company. This, however, did not stop Ms. Haberman and her team from using their creativity to convince the chief buyer of a major British supermarket chain to take a chance.
The team decided to show the buyer the product’s ingenuity by sending her an Anywayup cup filled with blackcurrant juice and a note stating, “If this reaches you without spilling, give us a call!” It did not spill. The product reached store shelves within a few weeks and sales began to soar.
Anywayup cups have a unique valve molded into the mouthpiece to ensure that the spout automatically seals between sips, making them totally leak-proof, even when shaken vigorously or left upside down.
The innovative design helps to eliminate spillage by allowing the flow of liquid only when the child sucks or swallows. Other benefits include improved hand-to-mouth coordination and the opportunity to learn to drink independently through sipping rather than guzzling.
Bringing the Anywayup cup to market was challenging and there were many setbacks along the way. Prototypes of the innovative product were offered for licensing to 18 companies concerned with the manufacture of products for infants. Although the response was enthusiastic, none of the companies were prepared to pay for a license.
Therefore, in 1995, Ms. Haberman decided to join forces with V&A Marketing Ltd., a Wales-based company that specialized in marketing innovative plastic products. Bolstered by a trusted brand and appealing concept, the Anywayup cup started to sell in unprecedented numbers, at a rate of about 60,000 per week.
Following the success of the Anywayup cup, in 2018, Ms. Haberman released the Haberman Suckle Feeder, an anti-obesity, baby-led paced feeding alternative for bottle feeding. The Suckle Feeder’s technology puts the baby in control, enables “paced” feeding and prevents guzzling. The inventive teat, which remains full at any angle, works together with a cartridge to address all common causes of colic and to facilitate feeding by natural breastfeeding action.
Ms. Haberman and the Anywayup cup have achieved great success over the last 30 years, with over 42 million products using her patented technology sold globally each year. Her impact on the nursing industry led to her recognition by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as a “Pioneer to the Life of the Nation.”
IP has been the backbone of my business for over 35 years.Mandy Haberman, Founder and Creative Director of Haberman Products Ltd.
According to Ms. Haberman, the company’s business model begins with the development of IP, after which they bring the resulting products to market. Through strong IP and strategic exploitation of those rights through licensing, Ms. Haberman and her business partners are able to generate sales from licensees who might otherwise be competitors. In her opinion, this is one of the most significant benefits of IP.
In 1992, Ms. Haberman, a graphic designer by training, decided to apply for protection for the first prototype of the Anywayup Cup. After conducting a search for prior art that did not reveal anything relevant to her invention, she applied for a patent with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), which was granted in 1996. The patent protected her idea of a cup that controls the flow of liquid through a specially crafted spout.
Understanding the need to protect her invention in her target markets, the inventor filed for additional patents, including with the IP Department of the Government of Hong Kong SAR (IPDHK) in 1998 (IPDHK Registration No. HK1007675) and an international application through WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Ms. Haberman’s use of the PCT system (International Publication No. WO1993019718) granted her a priority filing date based on her provisional filing in the UK, and allowed her to designate multiple states, such as the European Patent Office, Japan and the United States of America (USA), through a single application.
In 1996, a US company signed a USA exclusive licensing agreement to manufacture and sell the product under the Tumble Mates® brand. Two years later, Ms. Haberman licensed her technology to one of her earliest business partners, V&A Marketing Ltd. Those licenses later became non-exclusive and further licenses have since been granted in the UK, Europe and the USA.
As for the Suckle Feeder, it too has been patented in all significant markets through the PCT, with over 120 designated states and four regional IP offices, after its original filing with UKIPO in 2007. She intends to make strategic use of her patent through licensing in addition to direct sales. The company has already negotiated licensing agreements in certain Eastern European countries with Asia and the USA next on the agenda.
Buoyed by the commercial success of the product and understanding the importance of design, Ms. Haberman employed designer Sebastian Conran to produce a new redesigned range of cups in translucent colors.
You can have the greatest technology in the world but unless it catches the eye of consumers, they won’t pick it up off the shelf.Mandy Haberman, Founder and Creative Director of Haberman Products Ltd.
These new look cups made a big impact on the market and set a benchmark for design in the industry. Their designs were initially protected by unregistered design rights in the UK, although several Anywayup cups would become iconic designs. Additionally, the shape of the cups was registered in 2002 with the EUIPO as a 3D shape trademark under Nice classes 10 (feeding bottles, cups and drinking vessels) and 21 (bottles; cups; drinking vessels).
Determined to protect her brand through trademark registration, Ms. Haberman filed an application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for the word mark “Anywayup” (EUIPO Registration No. 000318246) as well as for a figurative mark, which were registered in 1998 and 2013, respectively.
As for “Haberman,” Ms. Haberman first registered the word mark in 1996 in the USA under Nice class 10 (medical apparatus) for the original Haberman Feeder, a bottle and teat designed for special feeding needs, which has been endorsed by medical professionals throughout the world.
Two years later the trademark was registered in Switzerland, and in her application Ms. Haberman decided to use WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (Madrid System) – an international system for registering trademarks through a single application – to additionally designate Germany and France (International Trademark No. 0692331). One of the biggest benefits of using the Madrid System is the priority filing date based on the initial application submitted to a national or regional office, in this case, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property.
In 2005, Ms. Haberman registered the trademark with the EUIPO (EUIPO Registration No. 003869708), increasing the number of Nice Classifications to five additional classes relating to infants and feeding-related instruments, to accommodate her expanding product line. The same classes were used when filling another international trademark through the Madrid System with the EUIPO, designating the People’s Republic of China (China) in 2015 (International Trademark No. 1269160).
Building consumer trust in a brand can take time, but Ms. Haberman took advantage of the IP protection options in place to make sure all significant markets were covered as she expanded her business. Her registration of the trademark for “Haberman” in multiple jurisdictions permits further trademark development. For example, Ms. Haberman and her team filed an application for the figurative mark “Haberman Inventing Better Ways” under six Nice classes with the EUIPO, which was registered in 2013.
As is often the case, commercial success brought imitation with it and Ms. Haberman’s most well-known product, the Anywayup cup, risked becoming a victim of its own success.
Just 18 months after the product was launched, Ms. Haberman discovered that one of the British companies she had initially approached for licensing was making a very similar product to the Anywayup cup.
Despite the personal financial risk, Ms. Haberman and her licensee, V&A Marketing Ltd., decided to sue the infringing company and won. An injunction preventing further infringement of the patent was ordered and the appeal was abandoned shortly thereafter, as part of an out-of-court settlement.
The settlement reached saw the infringing party pay costs and damages to Ms. Haberman and her licensing partner. “Because I had patents, I was able to go to court, defend my idea, enforce my patent rights and that meant that I kept my monopoly in the market. This made me a lot of money; if I had not had the patents, I would not have made anything”, Ms. Haberman explains.
Later on, Ms. Haberman initiated other legal proceedings to defend her IP assets in Europe and in the USA, where the validity of her patents was confirmed. “As a result of my US patents being declared valid in court, other companies have since requested licenses, she explains,
Financially, overall, enforcing my rights has turned out to be well worthwhile for me.Mandy Haberman, Founder and Creative Director of Haberman Products Ltd.
The inventor has won numerous awards for her breakthrough technology, including the British Female Inventor of the Year award in 2000, a Gold Medal at the Salon International des Inventions in Geneva, the Design Business Association Design Effectiveness Award for the Innovation category, and the British Plastics Federation award for innovative use of plastics.
Today Ms. Haberman is a successful entrepreneur and has taken an active role in policy-making acting as appointed Non-Executive Director of the UKIPO Steering Board on IP matters. She is also a Founder Member and Freeman of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and devotes much of her available time to providing direction, help and encouragement to would-be inventors.