James Dyson: lawyers and plagiarists sucking the innovation out of tech

Exclusive: Dyson inventor vents spleen in interview with T3 magazine

James Dyson has said that innovation is being stifled by companies that ignore patents and then hide behind “armies of lawyers”.

In an exclusive interview with T3, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner said there is a risk that innovation is “pointless” if another company can simply come along and copy their hard work.

“We need to give inventors much wider protection on new designs and a chance to recoup the time and money they've invested,” Dyson told T3 while speaking about the company's latest product, the Dyson Cinetic vacuum cleaner.

“Too many copycat companies are being disingenuous to persuade the courts they've not infringed any patents. If a company can come along and steal designs, invention becomes pointless. Plagiarists in general ought to be punished: mimicking packaging, slogans or materials is wrong.”

Dyson said that the patent system needs overhauling. He said that currently the only people who benefit are the copycats and their “armies of laywers”.

“We also need a rigorous patent search system so all prior art comes to light at an early stage. Let's reward inventors, not the copycats and their armies of lawyers.”

Dyson successfully sued Hoover in 2000 after a court agreed it had deliberately copied a fundamental part of his patented design in its Triple Vortex bagless vaccum.

Dyson shook the vacuum industry in the 90s. When its first cleaner hit the market, its rivals made around £100 million from the sale of disposable bags. Today, it is a fraction of that.

More recently, Dyson threatened Samsung with legal action in September 2013 accusing the Korean firm of “ripping off” one off its ball technology.

Read the rest of the interview in the next issue of T3, out March 27th.