Federal Circuit Holds Design Patents Cover Only Specifically Claimed Items

In a case of first impression involving design patents, the Federal Circuit held that the language recited in the single "claim" of a design patent can limit the scope of a design patent "where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures."

In the case at hand, the design patent illustrated a unique "Y" shaped pattern, but none of the figures showed the pattern on a specific product. However, the title of the patent and sole claim were amended to indicate that the design was a "Pattern for a Chair." Thus, the Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an infringement suit against a company selling baskets with a "Y" shaped pattern because the design patent was deemed to be limited to chair designs only.

This decision, Curver Luxembourg v. Home Expressions Inc., No. 2018-2214 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 12, 2019), reaffirms the importance of careful design patent filing and prosecution strategies. Lerner David has significant experience in working with clients to develop such strategies. The decision can be found here at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/node/25215.