Key Design Patent Takeaways From Fed. Circ.'s Ford Decision

By Devon Beane and Jacob Vannette (August 7, 2019, 1:32 PM EDT) -- On Tuesday, July 23, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit declined to fashion design patent-specific doctrines of exhaustion or repair.[1] In Automotive Body Parts Association v. Ford Global Technologies LLC, the Federal Circuit reemphasized that the same rules apply to utility patents and to design patents unless otherwise provided by law.[2]

Also concluding that "aesthetic appeal" is not functional, the court affirmed summary judgment in Ford''s favor.[3] Both conclusions impact design patent practice, notably widening the gap between design patents and trade dress rights and reaffirming that design and utility patents should, when possible, receive analogous treatment....

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