Inventor takes DTI to European Court
One man and his vacuum go in search of legal break over patent fees
Sunday 12 January 1997
James Dyson, whose company, Dyson Appliances, claims to have sold around pounds 100m worth of vacuum cleaners last year, is adamant that inventors should not have to pay annual fees to keep the patents they hold on their inventions valid, and has lodged a petition with the court in the hope that the practice will be outlawed.
"Inventors are being charged enormous sums to renew their patents every year - up to pounds 2,000 per country per year in some cases - and this is money that most of them cannot afford to waste because they have not yet turned their invention into a profitable business," Mr Dyson said.
In the petition, filed with the court last week, Mr Dyson claims that in 1989 he had been forced to abandon one of his UK patents, for a valve on the Dyson upright vacuum cleaner, because at the time he had no money to pay for the renewal. He later found that it was being used by a large competitor in the UK, and that he had no legal recourse. The petition claims this violated his human rights.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry - currently Mr Lang - is named as the defendant, since it is the DTI that handles patent applications and levies renewal fees in the UK.
"An invention is a piece of creative art, like a book or a song, and those don't require a renewal fee every year," Mr Dyson said. "If I cannot afford an annual renewal fee - which is simply someone stamping a piece of paper - why should the patent office be able to steal it from me?"
Mr Dyson's claims were met with only limited sympathy by intellectual property lawyers, who pointed out that the patent system is designed to protect innovation when it is being put to good use, not as a way of stifling technological progress.
"The other side of Mr Dyson's argument is that competitors both large and small have to wait for 20 years before they can use a piece of technology," said Tibor Gold, a specialist intellectual property lawyer with the City firm of Stephenson Harwood.
Mr Gold pointed out that renewal fees on patents in the UK start being applied after four years, and at pounds 110 to pounds 400 a year were bargains compared with the average pounds 3,000 cost of registering a patent in the first place. In other countries - particularly Germany - renewals can run to pounds 2,000 a year.
"The idea of stopping patent renewal fees is certainly not a daft idea, but there should still be an incentive to stop people sitting on technological breakthroughs," he added.
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigera
Raphael Ravenscroft dead: 'Baker Street' musician who played the most famous saxophone solo for just £27, dies aged 60
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...
£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...
£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...