Quarles & Brady partner and editor-in-chief of the firm’s Protecting the Product design rights blog, James Aquilina, and patent engineer Harrison Powell attended the 16th Annual USPTO Design Day on May 4, 2023, in Alexandria, Virginia at the USPTO’s Headquarters.

There was a range of programming at Design Day, including remarks from Derrick Brent, Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Karen Young, Director of TC 2900, who delivered the “State of the Design Technology Center.”  Further to high-ranking officials from the USPTO, there were a plurality other presentations and conversations amongst members of the design law community that included private practice prosecutors and litigators, in-house counsel, industrial designers, USPTO Examiners, and product design expert witnesses.

A few key takeaways from the programing include:

  • U.S. Design filings in FY 2021 up 17.6% over FY 2020;
  • “Rocket Docket” filings more than doubled from FY 2021 to FY 2022, from 4246 to 9899 filings;
  • The unexamined application inventory is declining but still near an all time high;
  • The USPTO has been actively recruiting Design Examiners and has increased the number of Examiners 67% between FY 2018 and FY 2022, from 178 to 294.

Beyond information on the current state of TC 2900, there were a range of topics discussed that included recent design patent appeal decisions such as Ideavillage Products Corp. v. Koninklijke Philips NV (PTAB October 25, 2022) and Ex parte Grede et al. (PTAB September 29, 2022), as well as major ongoing federal court litigation relating to design patent cases, such as LKQ Corp. et al. v. GM Global Technology Operations LLC.