Few companies are as well known for their prolific innovation as Dyson Appliances Ltd. The British technology company has been wildly successful in providing household and commercial products that had previously been around in some form for decades, including vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, hair dryers, fans, and heaters. Unlike many Dyson competitors, however, Dyson stands out for both seeing opportunities for improvement that are invisible to others, and for maintaining a monopoly over their superior technology by effectively patenting their inventions and enforcing their rights. Founded by serial inventor James Dyson, Dyson Appliances Ltd. earned their earliest notable commercial success with its DA 001 vacuum – Dyson’s first bagless, vacuum cleaner utilizing its patented dual-cyclone technology. Fifteen years and more than 5,127 prototypes after its inception, the success of the DA 001 was hard earned. The company’s hard work was eventually affirmed in 1999 when they successfully enforced their patent against their biggest rival, Hoover, and secured their position as a dominant player in the market. Dyson is now listed as assignee for hundreds of USPTO patents and patent applications. Looking into the company’s USPTO patent portfolio, their 82.7 percent allowance rate stands out as being impressive on its own. But, also taking into consideration their average of 1.7 office actions received per patent application and average patent prosecution period of just less than 38 months, one may quickly conclude that Dyson is just as meticulous with prosecuting their patent applications as they are with designing their products.
Patent Portfolio Filtering
It is not easy for companies like Dyson to manage so many patent applications simultaneously. Without systems in place to ensure efficient patent prosecution, the expense or time involved in prosecuting any single patent application can exceed the patent’s value. Patent prosecution statistics suggest that Dyson excels at tracking their pending patent applications and cutting their losses on unviable patent applications before they incur too much expense.
a. Patent Portfolio Breakdowns
Using LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® portfolio management tools, we have compiled a digital briefcase of the USPTO patents and patent applications in the Dyson patent portfolio. Shown below, PatentAdvisor™ allows users to visualize the status of their USPTO-filed patent applications quickly.
b. Pending Patent Applications
Using PatentAdvisor™ filters, we can clearly determine and visualize the number of patent applications that are currently pending before the USPTO. As shown, Dyson has 196 pending patent applications to date.
Patent Prosecution Performance Indicators
a. Time In Patent Prosecution
Determining how many USPTO patent applications are pending is only step one for managing a patent portfolio. PatentAdvisor™ users can then filter patent applications according to a wide selection of prosecution events that could serve as red flags. For example, patent applications that linger in prosecution for an unusually long period of time are often correlated with excessive expense. Below we have narrowed the 196 pending patent applications for Dyson down to 103 applications that have been pending for over two years.
b. Number of Office Actions
PatentAdvisor users can use layers of filters to assess their patent portfolio’s health from different angles. Below we have further narrowed the pending applications to include only those patent applications that have been issued two or more office actions. Office actions typically cost patent applicants around $3,000 each, so office action numbers can help indicators of overall prosecution expense.
c. Examiner Allowance Rate and ETA
Patent portfolio managers may be interested in determining each patent application’s chances of being granted by a USPTO patent examiner. Each application’s assigned patent examiner has a historical allowance rate (the percentage of patent applications they issue) that could indicate a pending application’s chances of success. Alternatively, PatentAdvisor users may choose to utilize the patent metric that is most strongly correlated with prosecution success, PatentAdvisor ETA™, a performance metric that incorporates allowance rate in addition to several other factors that also affect patent prosecution performance.
After filtering and visualizing their patent portfolios using several different patent metrics, PatentAdvisor users can dive deeper into the patent statistics of any single patent application by just clicking on the application in a visual preview. PatentAdvisor portfolio tools help users assess the health of their pending applications and to single out poorly performing applications so that they maintain a clean, efficient, Dyson-like patent portfolio.