Design Patents

Federal Circuit Reverses Dismissal in Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.

January 30, 2013
The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s sua sponte dismissal of a complaint filed by Mr. Robert J. Hall for patent infringement and other claims.  The Federal Circuit opinion can be found here.

Mr. Hall accused Bed Bath & Beyond of infringing U.S. Design Patent No. D596,439 entitled “Towel Tote.” Fig. 1 from D596,439 is reproduced below.

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Beats sues Yamaha for trade dress and design patent infringement

February 15, 2013
Beats Electronics, LLC (Beats) filed a complaint against Yamaha Corporation of America (Yamaha) on February 6, 2013, in the Central District of California, alleging infringement of Beats’ design patents and trade dress.  The complaint includes a request that the court enter a judgment that requires Yamaha to deliver to Beats, for destruction, all of the alleged infringing headphones and any materials which depict the alleged infringing headphones.  The complaint demands a jury trial on all issues.

According to the complaint, counsel for Beats notified Yamaha on November 30, 2012, of its belief that the Yamaha Pro 300, Yamaha Pro 400 and Yamaha Pro 500 headphones infringe Beats patents and Beats’ trade dress rights, and the complaint alleges that the Pro 300, Pro 400 and Pro 500 headphones are “knock-offs of Beats’ world-famous ‘Studio,’ ‘Solo,’ and 'Wireless’ model headphones.”

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Filing of certified copies of priority documents: no change for design patent applicants

February 28, 2013
On March 16, 2013, the First-Inventor-To-File (FITF) provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA) will become effective.  In preparation for the new statute, the USPTO published its final rules on the FITF on February 14, 2013. 

In general, these final rules relate to the statutory changes to the definitions of novelty and prior art.  One of the changes is that a U.S. patent or a U.S. patent application publication has a prior art effect as of the filing date of the foreign priority application for the subject matter disclosed in the priority document.  In reaction to this change, new Rule 37 CFR 1.55(f) will require applicants to systematically file a certified copy of the foreign application, or an interim copy of the foreign application, within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application. 

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Design Day 2013

February 28, 2013
The seventh annual USPTO Design Day, which discusses current issues in design patent law, will take place on April 23, 2013. The program is open and free to all, but registration is recommended via:  http://2013designday.eventbrite.com/#

Recaps of Design Day 2011 and Design Day 2010:

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Hague Agreement: A New Chapter for Protection of Industrial Design for the United States

March 7, 2013
On March 1, 2013, Teresa Stanek Rea (Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO) addressed the implementation of U.S. participation in the Hague Agreement on the Director’s Forum blog in "A New Chapter for Protection of Industrial Design for the United States."

The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, signed by President Obama, serves as the implementing legislation for both the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“the Hague Agreement”) and the Patent Law Treaty.

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In re Owens (CAFC March 26, 2013)

April 1, 2013
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) recently issued a precedential opinion in In re Owens, affirming the BPAI’s rejection of Owens et al.'s design patent application 29/253,172.  The opinion at p. 2 states that the "’172 application, which is the subject of this appeal, is a continuation of U.S. Design Patent Application No. 29/219,709 (filed Dec. 21, 2004) (“’709 application”). The ’709 application claimed a design for a bottle," with boundaries as shown, e.g., in Figure 2 (left): 



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Oakley Inc. v. Hire Order, Ltd.

April 8, 2013
In Oakley Inc. v. Hire Order, Ltd. (3:12-cv-02346-DMS-WMC), the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California issued an Order on March 28, 2013, denying Hire’s motion for partial summary judgment of non-infringement.

As shown in Exhibit B of the Complaint filed on September 26, 2012, Oakley, Inc. (Oakley) issued a letter to Hire Order, Ltd (Hire) on June 22, 2012, demanding that Hire cease sales of its Sportsman Eyewear video recording system.


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Hague Agreement (Guest Post)

April 10, 2013
Further to our prior coverage of the implementation of the Hague Agreement, we are pleased to publish the following from Audrey Pastoret, a guest of ours from France.

The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama on December 18, 2012 implements the Hague Agreement in the United States. It is intended to provide industrial designs with protection in states and governmental organizations parties to this arrangement through a single international application effected at the WIPO. Before the Hague Agreement, an application had to be filed in every country where protection was desired, resulting in several applications being filed for a single design patent. Under the Hague agreement a single application can provide protection in multiple countries.

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Yummie Tummie Sues Spanx for Design Patent Infringement

April 19, 2013
On April 2, 2013, Yummie Tummie sued fellow shapewear maker Spanx in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for patent infringement of six of its design patents.  The suit follows Yummie Tummie’s cease and desist letter from earlier this year and Spanx’s own complaint for declaratory judgment of non-infringement against Yummie Tummie filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. 

In its complaint (Case 1:13-cv-02157-AKH), Yummie Tummie asserted that Spanx’s products, including “The Total Taming Tank A226764,” the “Top This Tank Style 1847,” and “The Top This Cami Style 1846,” infringe the following U.S. design patents: D606,285; D616,627; D622,477; D623,377; D665,558; and D666,384.  The complaint did not include exhibits illustrating Spanx’s at-issue products, but Figures 1 and 3 of Yummie Tummie Design Patent D606,285 are provided below for visual context.

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IP Chat Channel - Design Patent Prosecution: Advanced Topics

June 10, 2013
On May 23, 2013, the IPO held a webinar on its IP Chat Channel called "Design Patent Prosecution: Advanced Topics," hosted by Pamela Sherrid.

Katie Maksym, design patent manager for Nike, Inc. first presented "Best Practice Tips from the Field of Play." Ms. Maksym highlighted the role of infringement awareness as a source of information to draft claims.

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Keurig v. Rogers: Dismissed on Summary Judgment

June 10, 2013
Following up on our earlier post, Keurig’s suit against Rogers Family Co. (“Rogers”) has been dismissed on summary judgment.  The district court granted Rogers’ motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. D502,362 and two utility patents.

In a Memorandum and Order on Summary Judgment (“Order”), the court compared the accused product with the claimed design in order to determine if the two are plainly dissimilar.  The following is a comparison provided on page 12 of the Order:

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Graphical User Interfaces

July 1, 2013
Design patents for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and computer-generated icons are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and abroad, with large technology companies enhancing their patent portfolios in this regard as the strategic value of such patents becomes more evident.  One high-profile, high-stakes case illustrating this point is the ongoing patent infringement saga between Apple and Samsung, which involves several design patents directed to GUIs and computer-generated icons.  Other large technology companies, such as Microsoft and Sony, are also active in the area of design patent protection for GUIs and computer-generated icons.

Whether patent protection is available for GUIs and computer-generated icons differs from country to country, and the various laws in this area are constantly evolving, or at the very least are hot topics for discussion.  For example, Taiwan’s new Patent Act, which took effect on January 1, 2013, broadened the scope of design patent protection to GUIs and computer-generated icons, among others areas.

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Proposed Rules Published: Changes to Implement the Hague Agreement concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs

December 20, 2013
The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 has resulted in new rules being proposed for implementing the Act. 

On October 21, 2013, 78 FR 62367 was published as a final rule to implement the Patent Law Treaty, which generally does not affect design patents, but does provide restoring the right of priority after the 6-month period to claim priority, within 2 months from the expiration of the 6-month period and upon grant of a petition that shows the delay was unintentional.

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Design Patent Protection for Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) Likely Available in China in 2014

January 8, 2014
From December 19th-20th, 2013, the U.S. and China conducted the 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Beijing, China.  One notable outcome from the meetings was that China agreed to increase its efforts “to advance innovation in the fast growing information and communications technologies sector by publishing draft Guidelines for public comment to extend design-patent protection to graphical user interfaces.”

Presently, China does not afford design patent protection for Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) or computer-generated icons.  However, on October 22, 2013, the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) released a draft amended version of the Examination Guidelines for public opinion.  Thus, it is likely that design patent protection for GUIs and computer-generated icons will finally be available in China in 2014.

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Pacific Coast v. Malibu Boats

January 10, 2014
In 2011, Pacific Coast Marine Windshields Limited (Pacific Coast) brought suit (No. 12-CV-0033) against Malibu Boats, LLC (Malibu) in the Middle District of Florida, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. D555,070. The District Court held that Pacific Coast was barred from alleging infringement due to prosecution history estoppel, and Pacific Coast appealed. 

On January 8, 2014, the Federal Circuit held that “the principles of prosecution history estoppel apply to design patents” but reversed the district court’s summary judgment of non-infringement because “the accused infringing design was not within the scope of the subject matter surrendered during prosecution.”

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IPO submits comments regarding Proposed Hague Rules

February 4, 2014
As previously reported, on November 29, 2013, 78 FR 71869 was published as a proposed rule to implement the Hague Agreement. 

On February 4, 2014, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) submitted comments on the proposed Hague rules.

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Gillette Design Patent Enforcement

February 11, 2014
Over the past 6 months the Gillette Company (Gillette) has filed two different complaints asserting infringement of numerous design patents to protect several of its razor blade related products.  In the first case, Gillette recently obtained a consent judgment, illustrating the value of design patents in its patent portfolio.  The second case is ongoing.

First, on October 10, 2013, Gillette filed a complaint against BK Gifts, BK Razors, Brian Patrick, Kim Murry, and Zilo Store, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”), in the Southern District of Ohio (Gillette Company v. BK Gifts, transferred to the Northern District of Ohio, Docket No. 3-13-cv-02241-1).

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Skyline Design Patent Complaints

February 25, 2014
Skyline USA, Inc. (Skyline) recently filed two complaints asserting infringement of a design patent directed to a combined flashlight and stun gun.

In the first complaint filed February 7, 2014, Skyline alleged infringement by Cutting Edge Products, Inc. (Cutting Edge), in the Middle District of Florida, Orlando division (6:14-cv-212-ORL-36GJK).

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Interim Rule Regarding Continued Prosecution Applications

March 10, 2014
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) has adopted an interim rule, effective March 5, 2014, pertaining to Continued Prosecution Applications (CPAs), which are only available for design patent applications.

A CPA is typically filed when prosecution on the merits is closed in a design patent application.  For example, after the Examiner issues a final rejection in a design application, the Applicant may file a CPA in order to continue prosecution in front of the Examiner, instead of appealing the final rejection to the Patent Trial and Appeals Board. A Request for Continued Examination (RCE) is not allowed in a design patent application.


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Mulch v. Novel - Request for Declaratory Judgment

March 14, 2014
International Mulch Company, Inc. (Mulch) filed a complaint requesting declaratory judgment against Novel Ideas, Inc. (Novel) in the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division on March 11, 2014 (4-14-cv-00446).

In the complaint, Mulch requested a Declaratory Judgment of patent non-infringement and invalidity of two design patents owned by Novel, US D640,268 (’268) and US D654,191 (’191), both directed to flexible landscape edging.

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