District Court
By David M. Longo, Ph.D.
| July 19, 2018
A few years ago, I wrote an article (available here) about Deckers’ mixed success in a 2014 lawsuit against retailers JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Dreams Footwear, for design patent infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition, among other asserted causes of action, in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Since then, Deckers has tangled its laces with many other defendants over similar issues—the majority of which were before the same court.

Well, Deckers hiked back to court on Valentine’s Day to profess that there is no love for those who might tread on their design patents. Deckers laced up another five pronged Complaint—this time against Reliable Knitting Works, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and 10 other unnamed defendants—and filed suit in the Central District of California. See Deckers Outdoor Corp. v. Reliable Knitting Works and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., C.D. Cal., Case No. 2:18-cv-01217 (Feb. 14, 2018).
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By Patrick Miller
| July 19, 2018
GLO SCIENCE, INC. (“GLO SCIENCE”) recently asserted two design patents directed to mouthpieces against multiple parties in different jurisdictions. This is not the first time the two design patents have been asserted, however. The design patents have been asserted now at least eight times, leading to settlements in at least three of the cases. The multiple patent infringement suits and settlements, perhaps, underscore the valuable part design patents can play in a patent portfolio. As discussed before, some of the key advantages of design patents in the litigation context include that they are relatively difficult to invalidate, the alternative remedy of the “total profit” on an infringing “article of manufacture,” and injunction and exclusion order remedies.

Specifically, U.S. Patent Nos. D636,074 and D765,255 were asserted on January 30, 2018 against Oral Care Products, LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (complaint) and against ANGELO DE SIMONE, TRUECOMPANY LIMITED, and MILLION DOLLAR SMILE, L.L.C in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (complaint).
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By Andrew M. Ollis
| July 19, 2018
On October 22, 2017, Judge Lucy Koh ordered a new trial on design patent damages in the long-running dispute between Apple and Samsung playing out its latest chapter in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Case No. 11-CV-01846-LHK, ECF No. 3530 (“Order”).

After the U.S. Supreme Court held that an “article of manufacture” in 35 U.S.C. § 289 (damages provision specific to design patents) could apply to either an article sold to a consumer or a component of the product, the case was remanded to determine whether a new trial was needed on the $399 million award Apple had obtained for Samsung’s infringement of several design patents.

As part of her analysis, Judge Koh also had to determine a new test for design patent damages under Section 289. Rejecting the tests offered by both Apple and Samsung, Judge Koh adopted the government’s suggestion, stating in conclusion:
The test for determining the article of manufacture for the purpose of § 289 shall be the following four factors:
• The scope of the design claimed in the plaintiff’s patent, including the drawing and written description;
• The relative prominence of the design within the product as a whole;
• Whether the design is conceptually distinct from the product as a whole; and
• The physical relationship between the patented design and the rest of the product, including whether the design pertains to a component that a user or seller can physically separate from the product as a whole, and whether the design is embodied in a component that is manufactured separately from the rest of the product, or if the component can be sold separately.
The plaintiff shall bear the burden of persuasion on identifying the relevant article of manufacture and proving the amount of total profit on the sale of that article. The plaintiff also shall bear an initial burden of production on identifying the relevant article of manufacture and proving the amount of total profit on the sale of that article. If the plaintiff satisfies its burden of production on these issues, the burden of production shifts to the defendant to come forward with evidence of an alternative article of manufacture. Order at 35.

Judge Koh also observed that the government’s test had largely been adopted by the one other court confronted with the same question. Order at 21, citing Jury Instructions at 15-16, Columbia Sportswear N. Am., Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-01781-HZ (S.D. Cal. Sept. 9, 2017), ECF No. 378. 

A new trial is expected in May 2018.  Interestingly, both parties indicated they could generally accept the government’s test (see Order at 13-14, 20), suggesting that each side believes the test is sufficiently flexible to support their point of view. As with all developments in this case, the trial will be closely watched, and another appeal is all but certain absent settlement.
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By David Nguyen
| July 19, 2018
Microsoft Corporation ("Microsoft") filed suit against Corel Corporation and Corel Inc. (“Corel”) in the Northern District Court of California, seeking to recover damages and costs for patent infringement.

In the complaint, Microsoft alleges Corel willfully infringes a number of Microsoft utility and design patents.  In particular, Microsoft accuses Corel of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 8,255,828 (“the ‘828 patent”); 7,703,036 (“the ‘036 patent”); 7,047,501 (“the ‘501 patent”); 5,715,415 (“the ‘415 patent”); 5,510,980 (“the ‘980 patent”); D550,237 (“the D‘237 patent”); D554,140 (“the D‘140 patent”); D564,532 (“the D‘532 patent”); and D570,865 (“the D‘865 patent”), all relating to aspects of graphical user interfaces ("GUIs") used in productivity software applications, such as Microsoft Office.

The four design patents forming the basis for part of the complaint are directed to "ornamental designs for parts of Microsoft user interfaces, including the Microsoft Ribbon" and, according to Microsoft, "Corel's advertising makes the copied Microsoft interfaces one of the central selling points of Corel's products:  'With a familiar Ribbon-style interface, Corel® Office looks like the office software you're used to, making it easy to get to work right away.'" 

Accused Corel products associated with the asserted design patents include CorelCAD 2014-2016 and Corel Home Office, which includes Corel Write, Corel Calculate, and Corel Show.

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By David Nguyen
| July 19, 2018
NIKE, Inc. (“Nike”) filed suit against Skechers U.S.A., Inc. (“Skechers”) on January 4, 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, seeking to recover damages and costs from Skechers. In the complaint, Nike alleges Skechers infringes eight Nike design patents issued between January 7, 2014 and March 31, 2015 pertaining to shoe “uppers” and shoe soles (see Table 1 below from the complaint).

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By David Nguyen
| July 19, 2018

Robert Gordon Industries, Ltd. ("Robert Gordon”) filed a complaint for declaratory judgment of noninfringement against Thermos, LLC (“Thermos”) on November 18, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  Meanwhile, Thermos filed its own patent infringement action against Robert Gordon in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, also on November 18, 2015.

According to Robert Gordon, the declaratory judgment action was filed as a result of Thermos' continued efforts “to extract a royalty payment under two Thermos patents; United States Patent No. D622,547 entitled 'Tumbler' ('the ‘547 patent') and United States Patent No. 8,348,078 entitled 'Leak Proof Drinking Lid With Pressure Relief' ('the ‘078 patent')," with regard to Robert Gordon’s Empire VM-57 Tumbler, despite Robert Gordon's willingness to discontinue this product and pay Thermos a $3,000.00 royalty (based on 5% of past sales).  Robert Gordon seeks a jury trial to obtain a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of each of the aforementioned Thermos patents. 

For its part, Thermos asserted that Robert Gordon has "manufactured, imported, sold and/or offered for sale tumblers...in the United States that infringe the '547 patent," such as tumbler "SKU # VM-57 Silver" offered for sale on Robert Gordon's website.   

Shown below, from left to right, are patent illustrations corresponding to Thermos' '547 patent (tumbler) and '078 patent (lid) and an image showing Robert Gordon's accused Empire VM-57 tumbler (based on Exhibit B from Thermos' complaint), respectively. 


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By David Nguyen
| July 19, 2018
C&A Marketing, Inc. (“C&A Marketing”) filed suit against GoPro, Inc. (“GoPro”) on November 3, 2015 in the U.S. District Court District of New Jersey, alleging design patent infringement.  More specifically, in it's complaint C&A Marketing alleges that GoPro's Hero4 Session, a cube-shaped "action" camera, infringes U.S. Patent No. D730,423 (the “D'423 patent”). 

According to C&A Marketing, the D'423 patent protects the Polaroid Cube, created through C&A Marketing's capacity as the exclusive manufacturer, distributor, and marketer of Polaroid® brand mountable action cameras, among other Polaroid® brand products.  Notably, C&A Marketing states that they launched the Polariod Cube in January 2014, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was followed by GoPro's release of the "strikingly similar" Hero4 Session camera in 2015.
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By Colin B. Harris
| July 19, 2018
Hoist Fitness Systems, Inc. (“Hoist”) filed a Complaint against Health In Motion, LLC (“Health In Motion”), Inspire Fitness and Sunset Swings (“Inspire Fitness”), and Does 1-10 (collectively, “Defendants”) on August 31, 2015 in the District Court for the Southern District of California. Incidentally, the Complaint specifies that the fictitious defendants named “Does 1-10” “include, but are not limited to, any subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or parent companies of Health In Motion.”

In its Complaint, Hoist alleges “patent infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment with regard to Hoist’s intellectual property rights.”

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By Andrew M. Ollis & Lisa M. Mandrusiak
| July 19, 2018
Design patent litigations have frequently been in the news the past few years, particularly since Apple and Samsung began battling against each other in the Northern District of California. With the America Invents Act (AIA) also affecting the number of utility patent cases that have been filed, we wondered whether the number of design patent litigations has increased or decreased over the past few years. While the statistics we reviewed indicate no clear trend, we suggest three conclusions that might be drawn from the statistics.
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By Colin B. Harris
| July 19, 2018
Oakley, Inc. (“Oakley”) filed suit against 7-Eleven, Inc. (7-Eleven) on June 25, 2015 in the District Court for the Southern District of California.  In its Complaint, Oakley alleges that certain products sold and/or offered for sale at 7-Eleven stores infringe the following design patents: 
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