When it comes to the question of investing in your intellectual property or not, trailer manufacturer Brenderup has experienced both sides of the coin.
Dating back to the 1930s, Brenderup has a long and proud history. Swedish trailer manufacturer Fågelsta and Danish equivalent Brenderup joined forces after growing independently of each other and becoming members of the trailer group Eldon in 1979. The decision to stick with the name Brenderup boiled down its strong brand identity in Denmark, Germany, France and Poland.
Car roof bar specialist Monc Blanc is also a part of the Brenderup Group since 2016.
Johan Sandahl is the R&D Manager at Brenderup* and based in Jönköping, Sweden. Originally a mechanical engineer, Johan has been in product development for more than 15 years and today works mostly with consumer products.
In addition to product development, an important part of Johan’s job is managing Brenderup’s intellectual property.
“The profitability comes first and foremost – primarily we want to prevent others from copying our products. In some cases it can also be interesting to sell or license our patents.”
The trailer manufacturer currently has around 20 patent families covering different technical solutions, with a few additional design registrations and a number of trademarks in their portfolio. To his help, Johan has European Patent Attorney Simon Markström and Patent Attorney Charlotta Bylander at AWA’s Jönköping office.
Over the years, Brenderup has experienced the benefits of having your IP in place – and the consequence of not.
“We went to court when one of our competitors infringed on one of our patents covering a special locking mechanism on a horse’s trailer. We won the case.”
The competitors were sentenced to pay a penalty fee for every unit produced which infringed on Brenderup’s patent. After this, the two trailer manufacturers came to an agreement where the infringer could continue to use the technical solution via a licensing arrangement.
We went to court when one of our competitors infringed on one of our patents covering a special locking mechanism on a horse’s trailer. We won the case.-Johan Sandahl, R&D Manager at Brenderup
But not all IP stories have had a happy ending for Brenderup.
When the company decided not to renew a design protection covering a trailer fairing a few years ago, another competitor was quick on the scene
“They copied it immediately and there was nothing we could do about it. We do regret not renewing our design protection as it led to products very similar to ours emerging on the market.”
As Brenderup is in the top five in its industry in Europe, they make it their business to optimise the testing of their products. However, other manufacturers – mainly in Eastern Europe – are quick to benefit from their findings and try to copy their products.
“It is a challenge to protect yourself from these free-riders. We protect the designs we can protect,” says Johan.
Brenderup has all reason to protect what they can. Manufacturing trailers up to 3,5 ton for cars, the company has customers in every segment. Their products range from professional trailers, e.g. for mechanics or construction workers, to lifestyle trailers purposely designed for boats or snow mobiles.
Their largest markets are Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Germany, where the trailers are being sold via a wide network of retailers.
Another part of the Brenderup business model in Sweden is their renting service at petrol stations across the country.
“Our vision is to be the obvious choice when choosing transport solutions,” says Johan.
“Brenderup’s focus is on growth; organic as well as acquired. We will continue to actively work with our IP to secure the future of the company.”
*Please note that Johan left his position with Brenderup shortly before this text was published.
For more information on Brenderup, please visit their website brenderup.com