Friday, November 8, 2013

Design Patent Roundup - Nov. 8, 2013

Perhaps as a way of driving home a point made in our post this past Wednesday, more than half of this week’s new cases come to us from the Central District of California, the undisputed hub of design patent litigation in recent times.  Will that prove to be a winning strategy for plaintiffs in the long run?  We can’t say.  We can tell you more about the issues that court will be seeing, such as whether it is a good idea to claim your company logo as part of your design, after the jump.

Panavise Prods. Inc. v. Fujita Japan Corp., no. 8-13-cv-01714 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 30, 2013)

In a case that only recently came on our radar, Panavise, a manufacturer of suction cup window mounts, filed suit against Fujita Japan Corp. for various Lanham Act claims, state and common law misappropriation and unfair competition, and infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D521,850 for the ornamental design of a window grip, as might be used to attach a smart phone to the interior windshield of a car.  Panavise’s complaint does not specify any particular infringing products.  However, images of a window grip sold by Fujita Japan are publicly available, and one such image is presented beside a figure from the D’850 Patent, below.  Panavise is represented by the Walker Law Group.  The case has been assigned Judge John F. Walter. 

 Steel Tech., LLC v. Lifeline First Aid, LLC, no. 3-13-cv-01938 (D. Or. Nov. 1, 2013)

Late last week, Steel Technology, LLC, under the name Hydro Flask, sued Lifeline first Aid, LLC, alleging federal and common law trademark infringement and unfair competition, as well as infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D688,912 for a wide mouth style water bottle lid design.  Below we have provided a comparison between a figure from the D’912 Patent, and an image of Lifeline’s accused 7500WH bottle.  The case has been assigned to Judge Anna J. Brown.  Steel Technology is represented by Kolisch Hartwell.

Dorman Prods., Inc. v. PACCAR, Inc., no. 2-13-cv-06383 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 1, 2013)

Also on November 1, Doorman Products, Inc. filed an action seeking declaratory judgment after receiving a letter from counsel for PACCAR, Inc. alleging that some of Doorman’s headlight designs infringed U.S. Design Patent D426,905.  Dorman seeks a declaration that the D’905 Patent is invalid, and damages for federal state and common law unfair competition and tortious interference with business relations.  An image of the claimed headlight design from the D’905 patent, and the accused 888-5403 headlight design may be seen below.  Dorman is represented by Volpe and Koenig.  The case has been assigned to Judge Jan E. Dubois. 

Intro-Tech Automotive, Inc. v. Need for LLC, no. 2-13-cv-08181 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 5, 2013)

On Tuesday, November 5, Intro-Tech Automotive, Inc. filed in the Central District of California against Need For LLC and its agents, directors or managers identified as Does 1-5.  The suit alleges infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D586,160, directed to an armrest for a chair resembling automobile tire tread.  A comparison between Figure 3 of the D’160 Patent and the armrest from the COBRA GT II chair found on Need for is shown below.  Intro-Tech is represented by Joel D. Voelzke Law Offices.  The Defendant has not yet entered an appearance.

Red Fox Trading, Inc. v. Choi, no. 2-13-cv-08205 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 5, 2013)

Also on Tuesday, Red Fox Trading, Inc. filed suit against a number of defendants doing business as Smart World, J-Town, Young’s Gifts & Cosmetics and Beauty Palace, as well as fifty John Does, alleging state and common law unfair competition as well as infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D684,879.  The design relates to a “wristband” which the complaint further explains to be a “negative ion wristband” designed by a “specialist in negative ion technology.”  So-called negative ion technology has been in the legal news a lot in recent years, most notably through a spate of class action lawsuits alleging that negative ion wristband manufacturers falsely claimed their products provided health benefits unsupportable by medical science.  Fortunately for the plaintiffs in this case, functional considerations or the effectiveness of the underlying technology do not weigh on the validity of a patent for the ornamental design of the product.  A comparison between a figure from the D’879 Patent and an image of the accused wristband appended to the complaint is shown below.  Red Fox is represented by Bae Park & Nazdjanova.  The case has been assigned to Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer and Magistrate Judge Michael R. Wilner. 

One further aspect of the aforementioned case deserves mention.  The D’879 Patent contains no broken lines or indication that any of the material shown is not claimed as-is, including the two logos visible on the patent figure above and not visible on the accused wristband beside it.  Depending on whether or not we see further developments in this case, this may serve as an illustration in the importance of properly defining the scope of a claimed ornamental design for obtaining optimal protection for your invention. 


  1. If Red Fox filed a trademark application on its claimed logo design, wouldn't that be a tacit admission that the claimed logo serves as a source identifier, negating any potential for consumer confusion?

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