Filings and Decisions

Design Patents, PGR, and Functionality – the USPTO’s Sattler Decision

July 9, 2020
Design patents cover the ornamental design for articles of manufacture. Almost by definition, an article of manufacture is designed to perform a useful function. But if the design of an article of manufacture is dictated by its function, especially if there are no alternative designs available that perform the same function, the design patent may be invalid as lacking ornamentality under 35 USC § 171. As an aside, opinions and discussions use the terms “functionality” and “lacking ornamentality” interchangeably when discussing the 35 USC § 171 requirement for design patents. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Patent Office) recently designated as Informative a decision instituting a post-grant review (PGR) proceeding on the issue of design patent functionality in Sattler Tech. Corp. v. Humancentric Ventures, LLC, PGR2019-00030, paper no. 9 (“Decision”).
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