Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Design Patent Links - January 22, 2013

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There has been a great deal of design patent commentary in the last week despite an apparent slow-down in new design patent cases.  Here's the latest analysis from the best and brightest in design patent law:

As we noted in our design patent roundup last week, it looks like new design patent complaints may be tapering off.  Some other commentators have noticed this overall trend as well.  Lisa Schuchman, of ALM's Corporate Counsel website has provided a thorough discussion of why design patent suits are becoming less prevalent.  The analysis is based on data provided by Robert Walters, a partner at McDermott Will & Emory, showing a significant decline in new design patent cases in E.D. Tex, N.D. Cal., D. Del., and the ITC.

Despite the apparent decline in new lawsuits, however, it is clear that design patents remain a cost-effective form of intellectual property.  Dennis Crouch of Patently-O recently posted data from the USPTO showing that most design patents are issued in approximately 12 months.

In addition, there are some indications that the fashion industry is becoming more aware of the usefulness of design patents. The fashion law blog, The Sole PurseSuit, recently discussed the effect of the Lululemon design patent suit on the fashion industry and suggested some fashionable designs that might be considered for design patent protection, including "the Louboutin Bow."

Unlike the fashion industry, Silicon Valley has long understood the value of a robust design patent portfolio.  Often times, monitoring the design patents granted to tech giants can give clues about the next generation of tech gadgets.  For example, Patent Bolt recently discussed a mysterious design patent recently granted to HP on a next generation docking station.  Although HP's Design Patent No. 673,391 raises more questions than answers, it will be interesting to see what HP intends to dock with this device in the near future.

Lastly, for those who follow Apple's design patent portfolio, several blogs, including TechSpot, noted Apple's new design patent on its popular trackpad design.  Over the years, Apple has shown an impressive ability to successfully prosecute relatively simple design patents for its unique devices.  This particular design patent is drawn to the rectangular trackpad used on many laptops, including Apple's line of MacBook products.  Several other blogs discussed Apple's new Design Patent No. 674,382, including The Verge, and TUAW.

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