Apple v. Samsung: Summary Update - January 2012

Engadget has started a "Follow the Saga" feature concerning the ongoing Apple v. Samsung feud, including the most recent announcement that the ban on the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been upheld in Germany.  The "Follow the Saga" coverage at Engadget also includes Samsung's 3G lawsuits.

Of note, Apple filed another suit against Samsung in Germany on January 17, 2012, asserting Registered Community Design Nos. 000748280-0006 and 000888920-0018 against 15 Samsung phones between the two designs, as reported by FOSS Patents.  There is an invalidity proceeding pending in both, each initiated by Samsung on August 9, 2011.

Registered Community Design No. 000748280-0006

Registered Community Design No. 000888920-0018



Nestlé continues Trend of Recent Consumer Products Design Patent Complaints

Continuing a pattern of design patent infringement suits involving consumer products filed in recent months, Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition, Inc. “(Nestlé ) and Gerber Products Company (“Gerber”) sued Mead Johnson & Company, LLC (“Mead Johnson”) in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware on January 26, 2012.

The suit, 1:12-cv-0079, alleges that the sale of certain Mead Johnson bottles infringes Nestlé’s U.S. Design Patent No. D 447,421 (“the ‘421 patent”).  The complaint further alleges unfair competition, trade dress infringement, and various state law causes of action against Mead Johnson.  The ‘421 patent is directed towards an ornamental design for a bottle.  See Fig. 1 to the left. 

The Nestlé complaint states that the patented bottle has been used in its Boost® line of nutritional drinks.  ¶ 14.  Mead Johnson has supplied Nestlé with the products covered by the ‘421 patent.  ¶ 14.  However, Nestlé alleges that Mead Johnson also supplied infringing bottles as private label products to Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Sam’s Club without a license.  ¶ 19.  In an unusual twist, the allegedly infringing products are reportedly marked with the ‘421 patent number.  ¶ 19.

Notably, Mead Johnson had previously sued Nestlé and Gerber in United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in August 2011, 3:11-cv-0100, for infringement of U.S. patent no. 7,040,500 entitled “Container and Scoop Arrangement.”  Thus, this month’s Nestlé suit asserting the ‘411 design patent appears to be part of a larger dispute between the companies.

In November 2011, Crocs Inc. (“Crocs”) brought suit against Walgreen Co. in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, 1:11-cv-02954, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. D 610,784 (“the ‘784 patent”) and U.S. patent no. 6,993,858.  The ‘784 patent is directed towards an ornamental design for footwear.  See Fig. 1 to the right. 

The Crocs complaint states that prior to filing suit Crocs sent Walgreens a letter asking that Walgreens cease and desist selling its “Caribbean Cartel” footwear.  ¶ 20.  Crocs had previously asserted other design patents on its footwear as reported, for example, in Crocs Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n., 598 F.3d 1294 (Fed. Cir. 2010). See our prior postThe most recent Crocs suit is an example of the common strategy of asserting design patents in combination with utility patents against an alleged infringer.

Finally, in October 2011, Kohler Co. (“Kohler”) sued Amerisink, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, 11-cv-921, asserting infringement of two design patents, nos. D 510,985 (“the ‘985 patent”) and D 529,147 directed towards ornamental designs for sinks.  See Fig. 1 of the ‘985 patent to the left.  

Kohler asserted that Amerisink infringed these patents through its sale of certain stainless steel sinks.  ¶ 21.  As in the Crocs suit, Kohler reported that it sent Amerisink a cease and desist letter regarding the alleged infringement prior to filing suit.  ¶ 22.

Design patents continue to be an important, though sometimes overlooked, tool in the patent portfolios of many companies, especially those in the consumer products arena.  As with other recent patent design suits, the suits discussed above were brought by American companies.  Whether foreign companies will also choose to assert their own design patents with greater frequency in the future remains to be seen.


Apple v. Samsung: Apple is denied Preliminary Injunction against the 10.1N in Germany 

Following our prior post regarding Apple's request for preliminary injunction, Reuters reported on December 22, 2011, that Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann stated that, "[a]ccording to the court's assessment, the defendant has moved away sufficiently from the legally protected design." A final verdict is expected in February.


Design Patent article at IPWatchdog

IPWatchdog has posted an article titled "Design Patent: The Under Utilized and Overlooked Patent," by Gene Quinn.

Mr. Quinn discusses design patents in general, and notes the importance of the Egyption Goddess ruling. He also provides the following graph, illustrating design patent filing and issuance numbers.




Apple v. Samsung: Apple requests Preliminary Injunction against the 10.1N in Germany

Following our prior post regarding Samsung's new Galaxy Tab 10.1, Dow Jones Newswires now reports that Apple has requested a preliminary Injunction against Samsung's revised design. 

A hearing is reportedly scheduled for December 22, 2011.  FOSS Patents provides some Germany-specific insight on this development, and expects the hearing to not only relate to Apple's community design claims, but also Apple's unfair competition claims.