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.
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.”
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
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.”
Ryan Chirnomas | April 3, 2013
In re Owens
March 26, 2013
Panel: Prost, Moore and Wallach. Opinion by Prost.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.