Innovation, research and development
A Dyson case study

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Page 5: Patents

A patent gives the patent owner the right to stop someone else making or selling the patented product. If the patent covers a part of a machine like a vacuum cleaner, then the patent gives the owner the right to stop other people making or selling any vacuum cleaner including that part. The monopoly can last for up to 20 years from the date of filing the patent application. Without a patent to protect a product, anyone who wants to can take the same idea and use it in their own products. This can be very unfair, especially if the first person to think of the idea had to spend a lot of time, effort and money developing the product to make it work and to put it into production.

Getting a patent can take a long time and be very expensive. Patents are only effective in the country in which they are granted so you have to protect your idea in each country in which you want to have the right to stop other people using your idea. However, once you have a patent, you have a weapon with which you can build a commercial lead against your competitors. Dyson tries to protect any inventions made during the development of its machines. No less than fourteen new inventions were identified and covered by patent applications before the DC03 was launched in January 1998. These inventions were all made during the course of the development of the DC03 which is, of course, also protected by the patents covering the original idea of the cyclonic separation system. The original patents date back to 1981. The overall appearance of the DC03 was also protected by a Registered Design.

The patent applications filed in respect of the fourteen inventions made during development of the DC03 will probably mature into at least 100 patents over a period of a few years. Each patent will need to be maintained and the costs will be high. However, it means that competitors will be unable to take Dyson’s ideas and put them into their machines. In this way Dyson maintains its competitive advantage in the market-place.

Launching DC03

The DC03 Dyson Dual CycloneTM vacuum cleaner was launched in January 1998. It uses the Dual CycloneTM technology which ensures that the cleaner does not lose suction as it is used, plus it is light, slim line, has two HEPA filters, and a brushbar that can be switched on or off enabling the consumer to vacuum different surfaces.

Within just two months of launching the DC03, it had captured over 13% of the total vacuum cleaner market in the UK. The years of hard work had paid off: DC03 answered the needs of a specific type of consumer perfectly. DC03 had been more than two years in the making. When DC03 reached the shops, the benefits of investment of time and money became very plain.

Dyson | Innovation, research and development