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
DeAngelis is a patent attorney who assists clients with their domestic and international patent portfolios with regard to patent preparation and prosecution, freedom to operate analyses, and infringement analyses for design and utility patents.
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 en banc CAFC
In a recent district court decision, a New Jersey federal judge granted summary judgment to an accused infringer of a patented design. Skull Shaver LLC. v. IdeaVillage Products Corp., No.18cv3836 (EP) (AME) (D.N.J. Dec. 28, 2022). In its complaint, Skull Shaver claimed that Ideavillage’s leg shaver infringed its design patent on a head shaver. The patent-in-suit is U.S. D693,060 (“the D’060 patent”) for an electric head shaver, and the accused product is a Flawless Legs Shaver, which is itself covered by U.S. D853,645 (“the D’645 patent”). Continue Reading Flawless Legs and a Shaved Head? An Ordinary Observer Can Tell the Difference
While copyright law is at the center of a few recent disputes over intellectual property protection for typefaces and fonts, design patents are an often-overlooked mechanism for protecting these designs. Those who develop or license fonts will benefit from the following summary of the available protections for the visual appearance of typefaces and fonts, which includes novel “emoji” sets.
Continue Reading Protecting the Product™: Typefaces and Fonts
According to the recently-published 2021 US Design Patent Toteboard, Quarles & Brady was once again a top ten firm nationally for the most United States design patents obtained for its clients in the year 2021. This is the fourth consecutive year that the firm has appeared on this list.
Continue Reading Quarles & Brady Again a Top Design Patent Firm in 2021
Over the last 20 years, the total number of design patents issued per year in the United States has erupted. As illustrated in the graph below and further highlighted in this animated graph, in the 30 year period between the years 1971 and 2000 a total of nearly 219,000 design patents were issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). In the 20 years since the year 2000, nearly 471,000 design patents have been issued, representing an annual issue count of more than three times that of the previous 30 year period. While the overall number of issued designs continues to increase each decade, one particular article of manufacture has seen the largest uptick in popularity among design patents issued over the last ten years: graphical user interfaces.
Continue Reading Recent Trends in Article of Manufacture of Design Claims: A Modern Digital Popularity Contest
On October 17, 2020, the Chinese Legislature passed the Fourth Amendment to the Chinese Patent Law, which will come into effect on June 1, 2021. As discussed in our previous post, the Fourth Amendment included several updates that help move Chinese Design Patent Law toward harmonization with the laws of most major markets. As June 1st quickly approaches, the article below highlights and expands upon some of the major updates coming to Chinese Design Patent Law.
Continue Reading A Quick Dive Into the Upcoming Changes to Chinese Design Patent Law
This is the first article in a planned series that will analyze available design protection strategies for various categories of products.
Now that the era of work-from-anywhere and software-for-any-service has fully arrived, obtaining proper legal protection for software is paramount for many companies. However, due to an expansive interpretation by courts of the “abstract idea” exception to utility patent eligibility in recent years, protection for software-based systems and methods via utility patents has been made difficult. Accordingly, companies in this space should look to employ design-related rights to protect their software.
In this post, we will address how design patent, copyright, and trademark laws can be employed to provide protection for software-based designs.
Continue Reading Protecting the Product™: Software
Two recent decisions by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) highlight the nuances of allowable and impermissible drawing amendments during prosecution of U.S. design patent applications, and provide important guidance to design patent applicants on how to prepare their applications to ensure maximum flexibility during prosecution.
Continue Reading Recent PTAB Guidance on Permissible Drawing Amendments for U.S. Design Applications