A Bournemouth-based co-founder has revealed how an “incredibly frustrating ordeal” threatened their business.

Laceeze managing director Emma Burke said the lengthy process of gaining a patent almost cost her and the firm dearly, resulting in a near-identical competitor emerging.

The sports accessory brand offers a simple-yet-revolutionary way to stop children’s laces from coming undone during their sporting activities.

Patents, which give their owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years, are intellectual properties that must go through many legal stages and take a long time to acquire.

Emma said: “When the patent was still pending we were notified of a product that was very similar to ours. They had even used the same copy from our website on their own.

“The difference here was they claimed that their bands did more than just keep laces done up.

“We found out that the person who had made this site and copied our bands had ordered from us previously!”

A frustrated Emma knew there was little that could be done as Laceeze did not own the patent yet and so could take no legal action against the new competitor.

But eventually, she conceded that, while troublesome, it may well benefit the business in the long term.

Emma continued: “The whole ordeal was incredibly frustrating and caused us a lot of stress. However, we eventually realised that some competition is healthy – especially when ours are £5.99 per band and theirs was double ours.

“We were then awarded our patent but at this point it was too late to do anything for this competitor and we didn’t want to fight expensive and lengthy legal battles.

“We’ve ensured that we’ve got the necessary protection in place now.”

Emma added: “When we first designed Laceeze we had two mentors and an IP lawyer who said we would have no chance of getting a patent.

“However, we were then introduced to our manufacturer’s IP lawyer who said he thought we would have a chance and to give it a go.

“As you are probably aware these things take an age to go through and we just forgot about it and continued growing the business.”