Design Patents : CAFC Alert

In case of first impression, the CAFC determines that the principles of prosecution history estoppel apply to design patents.

Linda Shapiro | January 31, 2014

Pacific Coast Marine v. Malibu Boats, LLC

Decided January 8, 2014

Before Dyk, Mayer, and Chen. Opinion by Dyk.

Summary

Bach’s original design patent application included multiple embodiments of a marine windshield.  The Examiner issued a restriction requirement, in response to which Bach elected the first embodiment, canceled the other four, and filed a divisional for the third embodiment only.  After the patent issued, Bach assigned it to Pacific Coast, which sued Malibu Boats for infringement.  The Malibu Boats windshield differed slightly from the patented embodiment, as well as the non-elected embodiments.  The district court granted Malibu Boats’ motion for partial summary judgment of non-infringement on the grounds of prosecution history estoppel, finding that “that, during prosecution, the applicant had surrendered the designs reflected in the canceled figures and amended the claim ‘in order to obtain the patent.’”  The CAFC reversed, holding that although “there was a surrender of claim scope during prosecution,” the accused design was not “within the scope of the surrender.”


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“Ordinary Designer” Standard Should Be Used in Design Patent Obviousness Analysis

Kumiko Ide | October 24, 2013

High Point Design LLC, et al. v. Buyer’s Direct, Inc.

September 11, 2013

Panel: O’Malley, Schall, and Wallach. Opinion by Schall

Summary 

This case addresses obviousness and functionality analysis for design patents.  The CAFC stated that the obviousness of a design patent must be analyzed from the perception of a designer of ordinary skill in the field to which the design pertains. With regards to functionality, a design that can perform functions can be protected under design patent so long as the claimed design is “primarily ornamental” and not “primarily functional.”

意匠特許の自明性を判断する場合には、その意匠の分野の当業者の観点から分析を行うことが必要とされる。また、機能的な要素を有する意匠でも、その意匠が主として機能的ではなく、主として装飾的であれば、意匠特許の対象となる。


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CAFC Draws a Line in the Sand as to Adding “Boundary” Lines; PTO recants earlier design practice

Ryan Chirnomas | April 3, 2013

In re Owens

March 26, 2013

Panel:  Prost, Moore and Wallach.  Opinion by Prost.

Summary

Although a practice previously endorsed by the USPTO, the CAFC now holds that the addition of a “boundary” line to a design application constitutes the addition of new matter.  Since the parent application gave no indication of one portion of the design being separable from the remainder, the CAFC held that there was no “possession” of the later modification in the original application.


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A showing of causal nexus is required between infringement and alleged harm to patentee

Kumiko Ide | May 23, 2012

Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al.

May 14, 2012

Panel:  Bryson, Prost, and O’Malley.  Opinion by Bryson.  Concurrence-in-part and dissent-in-part by O’Malley.

Summary

Apple filed suit against Samsung alleging infringement of Apple’s U.S. Design Patent Nos. D593,087 (“the D’087 patent”), D618,677 (“the D’677 patent”), D504,889 (“the D’889 patent”), and U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381 (“the ’381 patent”).  Apple’s iPhone embodies the design in the D’087 patent and D’677 patent, and Apple’s iPad embodies the design in the D’889 patent.  Both iPhone and iPad embody a software feature known as the “bounce-back” feature of the ‘381 patent.  The district court denied Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction with respect to each of the accused devices and all four asserted patents.  Apple appealed.  The CAFC affirms the denial of a preliminary injunction with respect to the D’087, D’677, and ’381 patents, but vacates and reminds with respect to the D’889 patent.

アップル社は、サムスン社がアップル社の米国意匠特許第D593,087号(D’087特許)、D618,677号(D’677特許)、D504,889号(D’889特許)と米国特許第7,469,381号(’381特許)を侵害しているとして訴えた。D’087特許及びD’677特許は、アップル社のiPhoneに係わる意匠で、D’889特許は、iPadに係わる意匠である。また、’381特許は、iPhone及びiPadに係わるソフトウェアである。アップル社は、サムスン社のイ号製品について仮差し止めの申し立てをしたが、地裁はこれを却下した。控訴審でCAFCは、D’087特許、D’677特許及び’381特許に関しては地裁の判決を支持したものの、D’889特許についての判決は破棄・差し戻しした。


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BD Stumbles on the Fine Functionality Line between Patents and Trademarks

Michael Caridi | May 2, 2012

In Re Becton, Dickinson and Company

April 12, 2012

Panel:  Bryson, Clevenger, and Linn. Opinion by Clevenger.  Dissent by Linn.

Summary

BD appealed a decision of the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) that a requested trademark registration for a design of a closure cap for blood collection tubes could not be trademarked because the design is functional.  The CAFC affirmed the TTAB ruling relying heavily on prior BD utility patents and advertisements as evidencing functionality.   Attempting to convert functional aspects into a trademark due to acquired secondary meaning will not hold. A company looking to protect a product across multiple forms of intellectual property needs to clearly identify, from the advent of seeking protection, which aspects are considered functional and which are for design purposes.  The designation of function and design should be maintained in all ways the product is protected and promoted.


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