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
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
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
The USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) recently ordered the cancellation of two trademark registrations for product configurations of safety helmets, shown below and both directed to “… a three dimensional configuration of two ridges located along the center of a safety helmet….”Continue Reading Safety Helmet Product Configuration Trademark Registrations Demolished by Lack of Evidence of Acquired Distinctiveness
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
Oral arguments were held on Thursday, January 12, 2023, in Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc. The parties faced off in a rematch at the Federal Circuit following an earlier bout involving the same design patent, U.S. D657,093 (“D’093”) for a “Heat Reflective Material,” which as illustrated side-by-side below had been asserted against Seirus’s HeatWave™ material.Continue Reading Design Patents are Heating Up at the Federal Circuit
As highlighted by a recent decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, a party’s failure to properly mark its products with its issued U.S. patent number(s) will very likely result in a complete loss of the ability to recover infringement damages that occurred prior to the delivery of a specific allegation of infringement to an accused infringer. As further explained below, companies should thus very seriously consider the inclusion of patent markings on all relevant products.
Continue Reading Failure to Mark Patent Number on Products Results in Complete Loss of Pre-Suit Infringement Damages
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
Like the United States, China offers protection for 2D and 3D designs of products and packaging, which is often known by U.S. consumers and practitioners as “trade dress.” This four-part miniseries of posts provides a birds-eye view of protections available in China for two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) design elements of products or packaging under trademark, copyright, design patent, and anti-unfair competition laws. It focuses on the similarities and dissimilarities of different aspects of intellectual property (IP) law in China and how they interact with each other.
Continue Reading Protecting Product and Packaging Designs in China Part I – Trademarks
Earlier this month, ten of the world’s largest companies were accused of infringing design patents claiming animated graphical user interfaces (GUIs). These assertions were made in addition to at least ten other lawsuits filed since September 2021 asserting animated GUI design patents. Given the breadth of the asserted design patents, these cases potentially raise issues of first impression related to claim construction, infringement, and functionality.
Continue Reading Companies Performing Financial Transactions Stuck in GUI Design Patent Infringement Cases