As outlined in our previous post, securing a partial design claim in China is akin to hitting a moving target, as the interpretation of partial design claims in China has varied among cases and examiners.  Since the rule change allowing partial claiming for Chinese design patents took effect on June 1, 2021, the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) has still not yet released formal guidelines detailing what is and is not permitted.  However, certain patterns have emerged from the tranche of partial design claims that have been refused or allowed so far, especially regarding design titles, independent design units, patterns/surface indicia, unconnected claims, dividing lines, and simple geometric shapes.  From these patterns, there are several guideposts that applicants can use to navigate the uncertain waters of partial design claiming until a formal statement from the CNIPA is released.

Continue Reading The Moving Target of Partial Design Protection Under Chinese Law

As we have previously written about here, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) has granted a petition for an en banc rehearing of LKQ Corp. et al v. GM Global Technology to rule on the issue of whether the current test for determining obviousness of design patents, i.e., the Rosen/Durling Standard, is proper in view of the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in KSR v. Teleflex, 550 U.S. 398 (2007), which significantly broadened the obviousness inquiry for utility patents beyond the classic Teaching Suggestion Motivation (“TSM”) test.  The Rosen/Durling Standard was originally set forth in In re Rosen, 673 F.2d 388 (CCPA 1982) and both upheld and further clarified by the Federal Circuit in Durling v. Spectrum Furniture Co., 101 F.3d 100 (Fed. Cir. 1996).  The Standard first requires the identification of a proper primary or Rosen reference, which is “a single reference, ‘a something in existence, the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design’” and then the modification of the primary reference with a secondary reference. Durling, 101 F.3d at 103 (quoting Rosen, 673 F.2d at 391). 

Continue Reading Design Patent Obviousness Inquiry Is Up for Review at the CAFC

In response to public comments submitted in response to its request thereof regarding the “article of manufacture” requirement for design patent eligibility appearing in Title 35, United States Code, Section 171, and as explained in our previous post, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published a notice entitled “Supplemental Guidance for Examination of Design Patent Applications Related to Computer-Generated Electronic Images, Including Computer-Generated Icons and Graphical User Interfaces.”

Continue Reading Computer-Generated Electronic Images & The Article of Manufacture Requirement: The USPTO Declines to Extend Subject Matter Eligibility to “Disembodied” Designs

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) is amending the rules of practice in patent cases by creating a separate space for individuals with educational backgrounds in design-related disciplines to qualify to practice before the USPTO in the limited capacity of design patent application proceedings. This new rule does not impact those already registered to practice any patent matters before the USPTO. The USPTO, with this rule amendment, will now recognize applicants to the design patent bar that have degrees in any of industrial design, product design, architecture, applied arts, graphic design, fine/studio arts, art teacher education, or a degree equivalent to one of the listed degrees. This list of educational backgrounds matches those sought out by the USPTO to fill out the ranks of the design patent examination corps.

Continue Reading New USPTO Design Patent “Bar” to be Created in 2024

As outlined in our previous post, on June 1, 2021 the Fourth Amendment to the Chinese Patent Law came into effect, allowing partial claiming in design patent applications.  Until this past May, examination of most Chinese partial claim design patent applications had been held up by the China National Intellectual Property Administration (“CNIPA”), since the CNIPA had not published formal Examination Guidelines for partial design claiming.  While formal Examination Guidelines have still not been published, the CNIPA has recently been issuing Office actions rejecting certain partial designs for failing to form a “relatively independent area” or a “relatively complete design unit” of a product.  Since unclaimed broken lines can only be converted to solid lines (and vice versa) within two months from the Chinese filing date, a rejection indicating that the design fails to form a relatively independent area or a relatively complete design unit on a product can possibly mature into an incurable defect.

Continue Reading Navigating Partial Design Rejections in China

As we’ve written about in prior posts, it’s possible under U.S. trademark law for distinctive visual element(s) to become a trademark, i.e., an identifier of source for a particular party’s goods or services.

Continue Reading The Blue Turf of Boise State: On “Service” Dress and the Creation of Source Identification

Last week, in a precedential decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) clarified the law on comparison prior art in design patent cases. In the decision, captioned Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc., No. 2021-2299, 21-2338 (Sept. 15, 2023), the Federal Circuit provided guidance on the types of prior art that can be reviewed by courts and juries in the comparative prior art stage of the infringement analysis of design patent cases.  In the initial case, Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. (“Columbia”) sued Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc. (“Seirus”) for infringing U.S. Design Patent No. D657,093 (“the D’093 Patent”) via sales of its products containing HeatWave™ liner material, as illustrated side-by-side below.

Continue Reading Design Patents are Heating Up at the Federal Circuit, Again

The recent proliferation of useful Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) tools for tasks like text, image, music, and software code generation is all the rage. In the intellectual property sphere, one of the hottest topics surrounding the use of these AI tools is whether the works of art or inventions (including works of industrial design) created using these tools can still be considered the creation of the individual author or designer. This question is of critical importance because the U.S. copyright and patent laws are currently written in a way that require human creation to be eligible for protection.

Continue Reading AI & IP: A Not-so-Perfect Pairing

In a surprising move, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) has granted a petition for rehearing en banc on the issue of whether the test for determining obviousness of design patents has been overruled by the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in KSR v. Teleflex, 550 U.S. 398 (2007).  In the case, captioned LKQ Corp. et al v. GM Global Technology, the en banc CAFC has requested briefing as to whether the design patent obviousness test originally set forth in In re Rosen, 673 F.2d 388 (CCPA 1982) and blessed by the CAFC in Durling v. Spectrum Furniture Co., 101 F.3d 100 (Fed. Cir. 1996) is good law in view of the Supreme Court’s obviousness holding in KSR, which significantly modified the obviousness inquiry for utility patents.  While there was no doubt that KSR did not apply to design patents since the underlying obviousness analysis for utility patents differs so significantly from that for design patents, the en banc CAFC has clearly demonstrated a renewed interest in the issue, and any changes to the test can have significant implications for all future-filed, pending, and active design applications and patents. 

Continue Reading Uncertainty Ahead if Design Patent Obviousness Test is Abrogated by <em>en banc </em>CAFC