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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Design Patent Infringement

In Richardson v. Stanley Works, Inc., Plaintiff and Defendant both obtained design patents for a device that can be used as a hammer, a crowbar, and a stud-climbing tool. The plaintiff’s invention is illustrated below:

Plaintiff, Richardson’s U.S. Patent D507,167.

The defendant’s patent is illustrated below:

Defendant, Stanley’s U.S. Patent D562,101.

In the opinion issued 9 March 2010 by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Court held that the defendant’s product did not infringe the claims of the plaintiff’s patent because:

(1) when the design has functional and ornamental aspects, it is entitled to a design patent whose scope is limited to the ornamental aspects alone and does not extend to any functional elements of the claimed article; and

(2) from the perspective of an ordinary observer familiar with the prior art, the overall visual effect of the defendant’s product is significantly different from the claims of the plaintiff’s patent.

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