EMW Picton Howell has successfully defended Vax, the floorcare specialist, against a registered design infringement case brought by Dyson, the vacuum cleaner manufacturer.
Dyson claimed that the design of the Vax Mach Zen was too similar to the Dyson DC02 – both are pull-along vacuum cleaners with a cyclonic design − in that the Vax design did not produce a different ’overall impression’ on the informed user, namely knowledgeable users of domestic vacuum cleaners.
The trial took place in early July 2010 at the Patents Court in London, before Mr Justice Arnold. The judgement was handed down on 29 July 2010 and Dyson’s claim was dismissed.
Dyson’s evidence was directed principally to nine features that were said to be common to both machines.
The judge found that these were either not particularly significant, or that there were important differences between those features in the two machines.
In addition to the nine features relied on by Dyson, the judge took into consideration other features and found at least half a dozen others where the products were different and would have an impact on the perception of the informed user.
One of them − the right-angled recess in the base of the Dyson machine that enabled it to sit on stairs − was identified as a ‘striking feature’ in Dyson’s registered design that was not present on the Vax model.
The judge also found the overall impression produced by the Dyson design to be ‘smooth, curving and elegant’.
The Vax machine was found to be ‘rugged, angular and industrial, even somewhat brutal’, giving a different ’overall impression’.
Mark Finn, head of IP at EMW Picton Howell, said: ‘The judge established that, while there were some similarities in the design, these were not particularly important and there were many differences between the two designs − a number of which were significant. The overall impressions produced by the two designs were not the same.’
Simon Lawson, managing director of Vax, said that the ruling ‘confirms what we’ve known all along – that the Vax Mach Zen is different to any other vacuum cleaner people can buy. This outcome means that the achievements of our young, talented British design team have been recognised.’
‘The judgment is disappointing,’ said Dyson CEO, Martin McCourt. ‘Dyson is being advised to appeal the ruling.’