IP insights: Breville
Jarred Twigg, Breville Group’s Intellectual Property Manager, kindly agreed to reproduce part of a discussion we had about Breville’s IP strategy
Jarred’s comments will be relevant to almost anyone involved in deciding what to patent.
Justin: How important is IP to Breville?
Jarred: The IP embodied in our products has immense value that persists for many years. For example, we recently released the world’s first manual espresso machine – the Oracle – that automates the most difficult parts of manual espresso making, bringing consistently high quality manual espresso coffee to consumers. The Oracle changes the landscape for manual espresso machines. It brings together technologies and ideas that Breville has been developing for 5 to 8 years. We estimate that there are between 15 and 30 of our inventions in the Oracle. In consumer’s eyes, our IP differentiates us from our competitors and drives sales. Protection of that IP lets us maintain that differentiation for longer.
Justin: I understand that Breville sells into more than 50 countries. If Breville patented every invention for the Oracle in every country then that may be over 750 patent applications, which is clearly unaffordable and unmanageable. What strategies have you developed?
Jarred: It is important to use Breville’s finite IP budget to maximise commercial outcomes. We anticipate what will be the “wow factor” that contributes strongly to the consumer’s decision to buy, and then we like to protect what contributes to the wow factor. Our focus is on what is crucial to the consumer and provides value to the consumer. This increases the value of the Breville brand. We want to be embraced as a brand that innovates. We also consider how our competitors and markets are likely to react to our innovations.
Justin: How do you protect those inventions that do not contribute to the wow factor but may nevertheless be technically important?
Jarred: While our primary strategy is to protect inventions that will become part of the brand, we keep our options for protecting secondary inventions open. We include the secondary inventions in patent applications for the wow factors. This reserves our right for some time to divide out the secondary application if it becomes tactically advantageous to do so.
Justin: Do you search for earlier patents?
Jarred: If a product is not patentable in view of the prior art, then it may not be a technology worth developing because competitors can quickly follow. We believe it is preferable to develop patentable technology that competitors find harder to follow, and strengthen our brand in consumer’s eyes – we want to be seen as innovators at the cutting edge of high-end home appliances. We also try to avoid developing products that might infringe other people’s patents. Licensing or cross licensing your own IP as a way out of a dispute devalues your IP. Disputes are also a distraction from what is important to us, which is the consumer.
Justin: Are registered designs an important part of your strategy?
Jarred: We align our registered designs with our branding. We prefer to register designs that are part of a design language that Breville wants to pursue long term. For Breville, a group of protected “Brevillisms” that make up a design language is considerably more valuable than a single registered design. We want to own the design language.
Justin: Thank you, Jarred.
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