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
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
A recent Federal Circuit decision, Junker v. Med. Components, Inc., No. 2021-1649 (Feb. 10, 2022), serves as a warning to prospective filers that making pre-filing offers for sale, or engaging in discussions for future sales, can be detrimental to one’s ability to obtain both design and utility patents.
Continue Reading Junker v. Medical Components, Inc.: Pre-filing Offers for Sale Trigger Patent “On-Sale Bar”
A recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has fundamentally altered the law on prior art anticipation for design patent applications. In this decision, captioned In re: SurgiSil, L.L.P. et al., No. 2020-1940 (Oct. 4, 2021), the Federal Circuit reversed a decision by the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”), which had previously affirmed an examiner’s anticipation rejection of a design patent claim for a lip implant based on a prior art reference depicting a similarly-shaped tool for artists.
Continue Reading In re SurgiSil : Much More than a Cosmetic Change to Design Patent Law
The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Super-Sparkly Safety Stuff, LLC v. Skyline USA, Inc. reinforces best practices for design patent enforcement and procurement. An important takeaway from this decision is that when enforcing design patents in litigation, patent owners should develop record evidence from fact and expert witnesses to assist the court in the ordinary observer analysis to ensure that motions for summary judgment of non-infringement are decided with a sufficient record. Another important consideration for design patent holders is that when protecting designs, rights holders should consider robust filing strategies to protect iterative and varying aspects of important designs. These strategies may help companies avoid early judgment of non-infringement when they enforce their design patents by limiting the options of a defendant during the early stages of litigation.
Continue Reading Pepper Spray Manufacturer’s Successful Self-Defense Reinforces Best Practices for Design Patents