Bold Ideas! The Dyson: Vacuum Cleaner May Clean Well, But It Has Also Become A Symbol Of Patent Law

Now being a relatively clean and card-carrying severe allergy sufferer, I was already familiar with Dyson® vacuum cleaners. I had patiently waited for the right Black Friday sale and mistakenly purchased a Shark® vacuum cleaner, Dyson’s major competitor. I was initially drawn to the cool names such as “Dyson Animal®” and “Dyson Small Ball Multi Floor®” and sleek modern designs, but tragically, made a classic consumer mistake when shopping for home appliances. I bought the vacuum cleaner that had the biggest sale that day, which was the Shark® vacuum cleaner. Although I paid about $100 less than I would have had I bought a comparable Dyson® upright vacuum cleaner, I had severely cheated myself. I am sure my old Statics Professor/Graduate Student teachers in Engineering school would have lectured me as well.

Even though my Shark® vacuum had pretty much sucked some of the loose fibers themselves off of the carpeting I have, my Shark® vacuum broke down and had to be repaired after 2 years. I must confess that having severe environmental allergies had inspired my weekly vacuuming sessions throughout my spacious apartment, so I was not surprised at the worn state of my vacuum cleaner. Coincidently, I also found out the makers of the Shark® vacuum were also the makers of the Ninja® blender. They graciously agreed to repair my Shark® vacuum, free of charge. However, I had to resort to borrowing my friend’s old Dirt Devil Vacuum, which was pale in comparison, while my Shark® vacuum was being repaired. This simply would not have happened had I bought a Dyson®.

Or as we say in the Patent Law game, this would have been obvious to one skilled in the art. Mr. Dyson, or more accurately Sir James Dyson, apparently got a perfect score on his Statics midterm and final, and is also very familiar with the Patent Law process. In reviewing the listing of the 18 pages of issued patent numbers for his various U.S. product lines and another 24 pages of issued patent numbers for his various British product lines, Mr. Dyson seems to be quite the patent juggernaut. Being obviously well-versed and coached in the Patent Cooperation Treaty, use of various Trademarks, and doubly protecting his inventions with Design Patents, Mr. Dyson has used the U.S. and European Patent Offices as a foundation for building his industrial fortune. Having well over 400 issued patents has indeed been an important part of Mr. Dyson’s billionaire financial and engineering fairy tale success.

Mr. Dyson also serves as a great example of how the Patent Law system, both U.S. and abroad, is still one of the last bastions of the free enterprise system where the truly inventive and talented can persist in protecting their ideas and prevent others from making, selling, using, or importing their precious and potentially lucrative inventions. If their inventions are good enough and their inventors have enough business acumen and toil, eventually their fortunes are built.

Mr. Dyson seems to have expanded his various vacuum cleaner product lines that not only include various types of vacuum cleaners but also a robot vacuum. Mr. Dyson also seems to have not settled on capturing the vacuum cleaner market. He also seems to be on his way to capturing the market of air treatment devices, hair dryers and desk and floor lamps.

So as Sir James Dyson would say, “Let’s start inventing”.

Disclaimer: This blog was in no way a promotional advertisement or endorsement of Dyson® products.

Author: Stephen Knuth, Technical Specialist

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