Patent analytics tools give a clue to what we might expect in the coming years

Ever wonder how future hotels will differ from those today? The “Business Productivity Room” patented on June 19th, 2018 offers a glimpse into how major hotel players envision providing more flexible and functional hotel rooms to their guests.

In their patent application filed back in November 2015, patent assignee Six Continents Hotels (a British-based hotel and hospitality company owning brands including Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, and Holiday Inn) directed readers’ attention to the flaws present in contemporary hotel layouts. “Often, the room is arranged so that a guest can watch television from either the seating area or the bed,” reads the patent specification, “but rotation of the television is typically required, and the viewing angles will not be optimal for one or both of the locations.”

“The result is a room that facilitates both relaxation and productivity.”

In place of previous hotel room layouts, Six Continents Hotels claims “a hotel room that is arranged to optimize business productivity” in Patent Number 10,000,940. In each “Business Productivity Room,” strategically placed angled walls create “a relationship between [hotel room] elements” that enables guests to “seamlessly move between need states” and to blend how they work and rest. The result is a room that facilitates both relaxation and productivity.

Six Continents Patent Presence

The USPTO has appropriately classified the “Business Productivity Room” patent under Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) E04H3/02 – a classification pertaining to buildings such as “Hotels; Motels; Coffee houses; Restaurants; Shops; [and] Department stores.” Using the LexisNexis TotalPatent One® patent search platform, we see that Six Continents Hotels currently maintains a portfolio of 28 worldwide patents or pending patent applications assigned to CPC E04H3/02 (11 of which were filed with the USPTO), making it the second most common assignee to patent applications in that classification and the first most common assignee at the USPTO. Having filed only 20 total patent applications with the USPTO, CPC E04H3 applies to over half of Six Contents Hotels’ USPTO-filed applications.

Patent Prosecution and Business Productivity

Despite their motivation to improve their guests’ productivity, LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® prosecution analysis tools reveal the difficulties Six Continents Hotels has had trying to patent their previous inventions with the USPTO. Of their 20 USPTO-filed patent applications, only eight patents have been granted to Six Continents Hotels while nine patent applications have been abandoned and three patent applications are currently pending. As a result, Six Continents Hotels has only been successful patenting 47.1 percent of the patent applications they have fully prosecuted.

After being assigned to an art unit that has granted only 59.1 percent of the 11,754 patent applications they have examined, the odds of securing patent ‘940 initially seemed unfavorable. Fortunately, the patent examiner assigned to evaluate the “Business Productivity Room” is the third most applicant-friendly patent examiner in her art unit (out of 16 total patent examiners), and she typically allows 70.3 percent of her assigned patent applications to issue as patents. After a hard-fought patent prosecution, including four office actions and one Request for Continued Examination, the patent statistics ultimately favored Six Continents Hotels and landed them rights in their futuristic hotel layout.

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