Friday, January 17, 2014

Design Patent Roundup - Jan. 17, 2014

The theme of this week’s design patent roundup is clearly automotive design patents. It might just be a coincidence that so many automotive design patent cases were filed this week, or the automotive industry may be getting nervous about the PARTS act. The “Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales Act of 2013,” or PARTS Act, would reduce the effective life of automotive design patents covering collision repair parts to two and a half years. You can read the full text of the PARTS Act here. The PARTS Act was submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary on April 23, 2013, but is still reported as having strong bi-partisan support. 

Chrysler Group LLC v. LKQ Corporation et al, No. 2-14-cv-10210 (E.D. Mi. Jan. 16, 2014)

Our first case of the week comes from where you might expect an automobile patent case to be filed – Detroit. In Chrysler v. LKQ, Chrysler is accusing Keystone Automotive Industries and LKQ Corporation of infringing ten different design patents relating to various vehicle parts, including tail lamps, headlamps, a mirror, a grille, a bumpers, and fenders. The design patents-in-suit appear to cover Chrysler’s line of Ram trucks. The design patents-in-suit are U.S. Design Patent Nos. 602618, 602619, 605996, 609141, 609143, 609150, 609615, 611395, and 627276, 641503. Below is an image of Keystone Automotive’s “2011 RAM Pickup-ram-1500 Chrome & Black Grille,” alongside a figure from the ‘141 Patent. Chrysler is represented by Patrick G. Seyfarth. The case has been assigned John Corbett O'Meara.

Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd. v. Atturo Tire Corp., No. 1:14-cv-00206 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 13, 2014)

On Monday, Toyo Tire filed a lawsuit against Atturo Tire and others in the Northern District of Illinois, accusing Atturo of infringing U.S. Design Patent No. 626,913, for a “Tire.” It would be interesting to know whether a design patent for a tire tread has ever been tested under the “matter of concern doctrine.” To a lay person, tire tread may not seem like the type of product that depends on ornamental appearance for commercial success, it being a primarily functional aspect of the tire. However, I would not be surprised if those skilled in the art of tires would hotly contest that suggestion. Below is an image of the accused Atturo Trail Blade M/T tire alongside an image from Toyo’s ‘913 Patent. Toyo Tire is represented by Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg. The case has not yet been assigned. 

Toyo Tire and Rubber Co., Ltd. v. S. China Tire and Rubber Co., Ltd. l, 8-14-cv-00024 (C.D. Ca. Jan. 7, 2014)

Last week, Toyo filed an infringement case in the Central District of California on another one of its design patents, accusing South China Tire and Rubber Co. of infringing U.S. Design Patent No. 487,424 for an “Automobile Tire.” Below is an image of the accused Lexani LX-Six tire that is available online alongside an image from Toyo’s ‘424 Patent. Toyo Tire is represented by Foley & Lardner. The case has been assigned to Judge Cormac J Carney.

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