Three Ways to Skin a Copycat: Design Patents, Trade Dress and Copyright


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Powerpoint for a talk about protecting ornamental product designs with design patents. Compares to trade dress and copyright protection. All three - design patents, trade dress & copyright, can be used in concert.

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Three Ways to Skin a Copycat: Design Patents, Trade Dress and Copyright

  1. 1. Three Ways To Skin A Copycat: How Design Patents Overlap With Trade Dress And Copyright Los Angeles Copyright Society March 10, 2010 James Juo ( Scott Hansen (
  3. 3. <ul><li>Distinctiveness requirement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Patent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Novel and nonobvious over prior art </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade Dress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary meaning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Original </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Non-functionality requirement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Patent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not dictated by the use or purpose of the article. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade Dress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not essential to the use or purpose of the article, or affect the cost or quality of the article. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Separability of the aesthetic from utilitarian elements of the design. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Acquired differently </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Patents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Filing and examination by USPTO. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade Dress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Actual use in commerce. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May be registered by USPTO if secondary meaning is established. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fixation in a tangible medium. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But registration with US Copyright Office is required to enforce rights in court. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Different infringement tests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Patents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ordinary observer would find the designs substantially the same. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade Dress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Likelihood of confusion by consumers as to source. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Copying (e.g., access and substantial similarity). </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>TYPES OF PATENTS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Patent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Protects how an invention looks (ornamental features) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Utility Patent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Protects how an invention works </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plant patent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Protects asexually reproducing plants </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>UTILITY PATENT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What most people think of as a patent. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protects Structure, Function, and/or Use of an Invention. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Term of 20 years from earliest filing date </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scope of Protection Is Defined By Written Claims at the end of the patent. </li></ul></ul>“Method And Means For Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion”
  10. 10. <ul><li>Claim 1. A system for engaging shoes with a hitch means to permit a person standing on a stage surface to lean forwardly beyond his or her center of gravity, comprising: </li></ul><ul><li>at least one shoe having a heel with a first engagement means, said first engagement means comprising a recess formed in a heel of said shoe covered with a heel slot plane located at a bottom region of said heel, said heel slot plate having a slot formed therein with a relatively wide opening at a leading edge of said heel and a narrower terminal end rearward of said leading edge, said recess being larger in size above said terminal end of said slot than is said terminal end of said slot; and </li></ul><ul><li>a second engagement means, detachably engageable with said first engagement means, comprising a hitch member having an enlarged head portion connected by a narrower shank portion to a means for raising and lowering said head of said hitch member above and substantially level with or below said stage surface, said head portion being larger in size than said terminal end of said slot and said shank portion being narrower than said terminal end of said slot, wherein said hitch member can be moved through apertures in said stage surface between a projecting position raised above said stage surface and a retracted position at or below the stage surface, and when said head portion of said hitch member is raised above said stage surface, said first engagement means can be detachably engaged with said projecting hitch member, thereby allowing a person wearing the shoes to lean forwardly with his or her normal center of gravity beyond a front region of said shoes, and maintain said forward lean. </li></ul>“Method And Means For Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion”
  11. 11. Global Findability v. Summit Entertainment (D.D.C. 2009)
  12. 12. <ul><li>DESIGN PATENT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited to protecting the look of a product. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples include shoes, containers, jewelry, cars, toys, and computer icons. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Term of 14 years from issuance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scope of Protection is defined primarily by the drawings. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Other Design Patents
  14. 15. Other Design Patents
  15. 16.
  16. 17. Other Design Patents
  17. 18. Other Design Patents
  18. 19. Other Design Patents
  19. 20. Use of Phantom or Dashed Lines
  20. 21. <ul><li>Patent Validity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A design patent is presumed valid because it is issued after examination by the USPTO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There is no patent right until a patent is issued by the USPTO </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invalidity requires that the accused infringer present “clear and convincing” evidence to prove that a patent is invalid. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But infringement only requires a preponderance of the evidence </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 22. <ul><li>Invalidity may be based on prior art. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prior Art includes printed publications and offers for sale before the filing date. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Disclosure of the design in a printed publication; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Offer for sale of a product embodying the design; or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public use of a product embodying the design. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Design must be novel and non-obvious over prior art </li></ul>
  22. 23. <ul><li>Filing Date is Critical </li></ul><ul><li>A public disclosure of the design more than one year before the filing date is a statutory bar. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A patent should not remove that which is already in the public domain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kimberly-Clark Corp. v. Johnson & Johnson , 745   F.2d 1437 (Fed. Cir. 1984) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“That which infringes if later, invalidates if earlier.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Peters v. Active Mfg. Co. ,129 U.S. 530 (1883) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 24. Scope Prior Art New Design
  24. 25. © 2003 © 2010 © 2004
  25. 27. <ul><li>Design Patent Infringement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ordinary Observer Test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gorham Co. v. White, 81 U.S. 511 (1871) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“We hold therefore, that if, in the eye of an ordinary observer , giving such attention as a purchaser usually gives, two designs are substantially the same , if the resemblance is such as to deceive such an observer, inducing him to purchase one supposing it to be the other, the first one patented is infringed by the other.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 28. <ul><li>What Is “observed”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The claimed design in its entirety. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Under Gorham , the focus is on the overall ornamental appearance of the claimed design, not selected ornamental features.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Elmer v. ICC Fabricating, Inc. , 67 F.3d 1571 (Fed.   Cir. 1995) (emphasis in original). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All drawing figures in the design patent are used to determine the claimed design. </li></ul></ul>
  27. 29. <ul><li>Who is the “Ordinary Observer”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One who is “a purchaser of things of similar design” or “one interested in the subject.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gorham v. White , 81 U.S. 511 (1871) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ordinary observer is not an expert. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gorham , 81 U.S. at 527 (Patent protection would be “destroyed” if infringement could be avoided based on differences “observable by experts” because no counterfeit is so identical with the original “that an experienced artist cannot discern a difference.”) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not necessarily the end consumer. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 30. <ul><li>Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc ., 543   F.3d 665 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ordinary observer test is the sole test for design patent infringement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Court abolished the separate “point of novelty” test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>That is, whether the accused device had appropriated the novelty in the patented design that distinguished it from the prior art. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 31. <ul><li>What does the Ordinary Observer know of the Prior Art? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An ordinary observer with reasonable familiarity with the prior art </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An ordinary observer “will attach importance to differences between the claimed design and the prior art depending on the overall effect of those differences on the design.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc ., 543 F.3d 665 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 32. <ul><li>What does the Ordinary Observer know of the Prior Art? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The accused infringer has the initial burden of producing the prior art to be considered in the ordinary observer test. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The accused infringer has the motivation to point out close prior art to avoid infringement. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But the patentee still has the ultimate burden of proving infringement. </li></ul></ul>
  31. 33. 3-Buffer Prior Art 4-Buffer Prior Art Accused 4-Buffer Product Patented 3-Buffer Design No Infringement
  32. 34. <ul><li>Minor differences in detail may not be enough to avoid infringement. </li></ul><ul><li>But differences that appear minor in the abstract may become significant for an ordinary observer in view of the prior art. </li></ul><ul><li>Scope of a design patent may depend on how “crowded” the prior art is. </li></ul>
  33. 35. <ul><li>Crocs, Inc. v. ITC , (Fed.   Cir. Feb. 24, 2010) (post- Egyptian Goddess ) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Side-by-side comparison between design patent and accused product. </li></ul></ul>Infringement
  34. 36. Patent-In-Suit Accused Product <ul><li>Richardson v. Stanley Works , (Fed.   Cir. Mar. 9, 2010) (post- Egyptian Goddess ) </li></ul>No Infringement
  37. 41. SIMULTANEOUS TRADEMARK AND DESIGN PATENT PROTECTION <ul><li>A design patent does not preclude federal trademark registration. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In re Mogen David Wine Corp. , 328 F.2d 925 (CCPA 1964), later reaffirmed by the same court at 372 F.2d 539 (CCPA 1967) </li></ul></ul>
  38. 42. iPod Design Patent iPod TM Registration
  39. 43. Paris Hilton Shoe Litigation Design-Patent-in-suit Accused Shoe Designs
  40. 44. <ul><li>Complaint: Causes of Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Patent Infringement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>US Patent D579,642 for “Shoe Sock” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lanham Act 43(a) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“The heart-shaped shoe sock … is source indicating.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted at trade shows </li></ul></ul></ul>Plaintiff’s heart-shaped shoe sock
  41. 45. <ul><li>Trade Dress: prevents consumer confusion w.r.t. indicators of source </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consumer behavior in the marketplace </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Design Patents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indication of source irrelevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is design NEW and NOT OBVIOUS? </li></ul></ul>
  42. 46. HOW LONG PROTECTION LASTS <ul><li>Trade dress: potentially indefinite term w/use in commerce </li></ul><ul><li>Design patents expire in 14 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Buys enough time to develop secondary meaning? </li></ul></ul>
  43. 47. Lotus v. Hennessey Performance Engineering
  47. 51. <ul><li>Copyright: protects “useful article” if aesthetic features identified separately from & can exist independently of utilitarian aspects. </li></ul><ul><li>Design Patent: protects ornamental appearance (not functional features) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Functional when appearance dictated by the use or purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative designs: evidence design not functional </li></ul></ul>
  48. 52. Design Patent v. Copyright: Blank Label Sheets
  49. 53. Design Patent v. Copyright: Medical Devices
  50. 54. Protecting Speed Racer
  51. 55. DESIGN PATENTS: DON’T NEED TO PROVE COPYING <ul><li>Do not need to prove copying for design patent infringement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Independent Creation&quot; is not a defense in design patent cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copying may be relevant to willful infringement </li></ul></ul>
  52. 56. HOW LONG PROTECTION LASTS <ul><li>Copyright term: life of author plus 70 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>work-for-hire: shorter of 95 years from the first publication, or 120 years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Design Patents:14 years from date of patent issuance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Typically more expensive and takes longer to obtain a design patent than a copyright registration </li></ul></ul>
  54. 58. KA-POW !!!! BATMAN DESIGN PATENT Prior Art
  55. 59. Patented Product
  56. 61. SUMMARY
  57. 62. <ul><li>Design Patent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No secondary meaning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No actual product needed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No independent creation defense </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1 year deadline to apply </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>14 year life </li></ul></ul></ul>
  58. 63. <ul><li>Trade Dress </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t need to be original or creative </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Registration w/USPTO helps, not required </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can last long time </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No independent creation defense </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary meaning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes hard to define the trade dress </li></ul></ul></ul>
  59. 64. <ul><li>Copyright </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t need to use in commerce </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No filing deadlines </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Very low level of creativity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Derivative works protection </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to protect useful products </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Less predictability in standards </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Transformative use, various separability tests </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Independent creation defense </li></ul></ul></ul>
  60. 65. Design Patents, Trade Dress, Copyright <ul><ul><li>Different distinctiveness requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different non-functionality requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different test(s) for infringement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use together to maximize IP protection </li></ul></ul>
  61. 66. CONCLUSION