Dyson recently enjoyed a swinging victory over Hoover in the finding that Hoover’s VORTEX infringed Dyson’s patent.
Who: Dyson and Hoover
When: January 2001
Where: Chancery Division of the High Court London
Dyson recently enjoyed a swinging victory over Hoover in the finding that Hoover's VORTEX infringed Dyson's patent. The bad news for Dyson was that their patent only had just over a year to run. But that didn't stop them from asking the Court to injunct Hoover from (1) using the VORTEX brand name for six months on any vacuum cleaner, even if it did not infringe Dyson's patent. This was because, they said, such goodwill as Hoover had in the VORTEX brand had been illegitimately acquired on a product that infringed Dyson's patent; (2) despite the coming expiry of Dyson's patent, Hoover should not be allowed to leap straight back into the market immediately after that expiry. This was because they were only able to do this and achieve what was described as "accelerated re-entry" on the back of development and marketing work in relation to a product that infringed Dyson's patent.
The Court was sympathetic to Dyson's submissions. It ordered Hoover to delay its launch of any cleaner using bagless technology until well after Dyson's patent expired. On use of the VORTEX brand, however, although it did not discount the possibility of a ban being imposed in a suitable case, but it was not persuaded that it was appropriate here.
Why this matters:
It is interesting that the Court held open the possibility of an injunction being granted to interrupt use of a brand if products it has been used on have been shown to infringe a third party's rights. If this "brand infection" principle holds good for patent infringement, presumably it could apply also if the product infringes other competitors' rights, such as the rights protected by passing off, copyright or design right. Although the Court stated this was not new law, Dyson may have dusted off a long unused remedy which could become fashionable!