Friday, May 23, 2014

Design Patent Roundup - May 23, 2014

This week's design patent roundup brings us five new cases, including a design patent for the "Kris Kross" concept, a balloon design patent with 576 figures representing 35 embodiments, and a plaintiff with no future as a photographer.  Basically, aside from Gillette's razor blade case, it has been a strange week.  

One point worth noting is that four out of five of this week's cases were filed in Ohio, which is quietly become a hotbed of design patent litigation.   

More pictures of Kris Kross after the ... "Jump, jump!"

Chuck Roaste, LLC v. Reverse Gear, LLC et al, No. 1-14-cv-01109 (N.D. Oh. May 22, 2014)

Yesterday, Chuck Roaste filed a complaint against Reverse Gear, LLC and Call Me Bleu, LLC alleging infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. 459,055 for "Reversible denim pants."  We've seen lots of design patent litigation in the garment industry, but is seems like Kris Kross invented the reversible denim pants back in 1992, right?  (see evidence below).  In all seriousness though, the Complaint against Reverse Gear seems fairly weak.  While Reverse Gear makes jeans with pockets on both the front and the back, the comparison between the '055 Patent and the accused jeans ends there.  This appears to be another example of a design patent plaintiff who believes their design patents encompass a design concept, rather than a particular design.  The '055 Patent claims a specific design for women's jeans, not the concept of placing pockets on the front and the back of pants.    

Below are images from the "infringement charts" that appear in the complaint, alongside the relevant prior art.  Chuck Roaste is represented by Choken Welling.  Reverse Gear has not yet made an appearance.  

Northstar Balloons LLC v. Amscan Inc. et al, No. 7-14-cv-03500 (S.D.N.Y. May 15, 2014)

On May 15, Northstar Balloons filed a lawsuit against party store giant Amscan for infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. 695,848 for "Balloon letters and numbers."  The '848 Patent is noteworthy for its shear size.  It includes 576 figures, representing separate balloon designs for each letter in the alphabet and numbers 1-9.  The MPEP states that a design patent is limited to a single claim. See § 1503.01 ("More than one claim is neither required nor permitted.").  However, I'm not aware of any cases precluding multiple embodiments for that single claim.  The Patent Act also states that "any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefor."  It would seem to me that the 35 separate balloon designs of the '848 Patent may be a problem.  Below is an image of one of the balloon designs of the '848 Patent alongside an image of an accused balloon from the Complaint.  Northstar is represented by Collen IP.  Amscan has not yet entered an appearance. 

GOJO Indus., Inc. v. Sales & Prod. Solutions, Inc., No. 5-14-cv-01105 (N.D. Oh. May 22, 2014)

Our last case is yet another Ohio case.  On Thursday, GOJO filed suit against S&P for allegedly infringing U.S. Design Patent No. 487,660 for a "Bottle Carrier."  I'm not sure how this product works, but it looks like a must-have for any serious beer-drinker.  NOTE: Father's Day is only three weeks away... Below is an image from the '660 Patent alongside a horrible image of the accused product from the complaint... The accused product appears to be a plunger... GOJO is represented by Renner Kenner Greive Bobak Taylor & Weber.  Their photographer is a Xerox copy machine from 1989.  S&P has not yet made an appearance. 

The Gillette Company v. Juba Razors et al., No. 1-14-cv-00418 (S.D. Oh. May 19, 2014)

On Monday this week, Gillete filed suite in Ohio against what appear to be two generic razor blade manufacturers, Juba Razors and, in a separate lawsuit, a company called Generic Razors.  See No. 14-cv-419).  Gillette accuses Juba of infringing U.S. Design Patent Nos. 422,751; 531,518; 533,684; and 604,904.  The patents-in-suit appear to relate to Gillete's Mach 3 and Fusion razor blade cartridges.  Below is a figure from the '571 Patent alongside one of Juba's Mach 3-compatable razors from its website.  Gillete is represented in both cases by Dinsmore & Shohl.  Neither Juba or Generic Shavers have entered an appearance yet. 

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