Functionality Patents

News & Analysis as of

Drawing a Line in the Floor—Courts Are Struggling With the Overlap Between Design Patent and Copyright

In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court in Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. emphasized that “[t]he rights of a patentee or copyright holder are part of a ‘carefully crafted bargain,’… under which, once the patent or...more

Ads Touting Function Shoot Down Trademark

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about brand owners who shoot themselves in the foot with their advertising. And, I’m sure it won’t be the last. As we’ve discussed before, touting the function of a product design...more

Comparison of Design Patent and Trade Dress Protection in Light of the Federal Circuit’s Decision in Apple v. Samsung

In a decision authored by Chief Judge Sharon Prost, the Federal Circuit held that while design patents covering product configurations – that is, “a product feature or a combination or arrangement of features” – can protect...more

Two Prong Protection is the Best Approach for Product Configuration

It has long been possible to use both trade dress and design patent rights to protect three-dimensional designs that function as trademarks. One strategy has been to rely on design patent protection while a three-dimensional...more

Williamson Decision Will Encourage Patent Defendants to Challenge Software Claims

In Williamson v. Citrix Online, announced on June 16, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in a partially en banc opinion that claims expressed in terms of functionality can be subject to statutory requirements...more

Apple v. Samsung: Trade Dress Functionality and Total Profits without Apportionment

The highly publicized Apple v. Samsung litigation saga began in April 2011 when Samsung alleged various infringements of patents and trade dress related to Apple’s iPhone. A jury awarded more than $1 billion in damages. In a...more

Intellectual Property Alert: Apple v. Samsung: The Federal Circuit Clarifies Design Patent Principles Law

In a much anticipated opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Apple v. Samsung on May 18, the design patent law with respect to remedies and the infringement test remains robust. Notably, and...more

Design Patent Case Digest: High Point Design LLC and Meijer, Inc., Sears Holding Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Buyers Direct,...

Decision Dates: September 11, 2013 and March 26, 2014 - Courts: Federal Circuit and the Southern District of New York Patent: D598,183 - Holding: Grant of summary judgment of invalidity REVERSED and REMANDED; on...more

Pattern of Functional Dots in Absorbent Pad Functional? It’s a Fact Issue

McAirlaids, Inc. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp. - Addressing whether a pattern of dots embossed on an absorbent pad was functional, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court’s summary judgment in...more

Federal Circuit Holds That Even Functional Claims Require Structural Fence Posts

In AbbVie Deutschland Gmbh v. Janssen Biotech, Inc., the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court decision that found AbbVie’s patents directed to anti-IL-12 antibodies invalid for lack of adequate written description. As...more

Functional Claim Language – “Adapted To” and “Configured To” – Having Narrow Interpretations

Patent claim drafting is a challenging exercise that requires balancing potential infringement of the claim against the prior art. A patent practitioner may easily draft a claim of very narrow scope, but if such claim has a...more

Functional Language in Claiming: Configured to, and Operable to

Functional language is often employed in claims in order to obtain a broader claim than one that recites purely structural limitations. The premise for this is that there is more than one way to perform a function. So, an...more

Means Plus Function Treatment Does not Apply Where Claim Element Conveys Known Structure to the Skilled Person

The Federal Circuit in Enocean GmbH v. Face International Corporation No. 2012-1645 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 31, 2014) reviewed claims which were found by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences...more

Sixth Circuit Rules that Trade Dress Law Does Not Prevent Copying of Functional Design

In Groeneveld Transport Efficiency, Inc. v. Lubecore International, Inc., 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 18897 (6th Cir. Sept. 12, 2013), an industry veteran and a relative newcomer battled over the appearance of a rather specialized...more

Software Development and the Use of Abstractions

The process of developing software typically involves the use of abstractions of concrete concepts to describe the operations performed by a computer and objects of such operations. Some software abstractions are so familiar...more

Federal Circuit Holds Patentee to Functional Claim Language

In Bayer Cropscience AG v. Dow AgroSciences LLC, the Federal Circuit upheld the district court’s claim construction that interpreted “2,4-D monooxygenase” in accordance with its established scientific meaning, even though...more

Design Patent Case Digest: Telebrands Corp v. Del Laboratories, Inc.

Telebrands Corp v. Del Laboratories, Inc. - Decision Date: September 8, 2011 - Court: S.D. New York - Patents: D596,802 - Holding: Coty’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity denied - Opinion:...more

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