As a follow up to the USPTO Design Day, I thought I would pass on a summary of the event from Alan Ball. If you’d like to see more info, there’s a LinkedIn group for the IDSA Design Protection Section:
Here’s Alan’s summary:
"This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to participate in Design Day, hosted by the the USPTo in Alexandria Virginia. Design Day was conceived as an open forum at which Design practitioners, design examiners, design patent lawyers and USPTO officials could meet to discuss current issues in design patent law, and “The Art of Design”. This was the fourth Design Day, and I was told it was the largest, with about 120 in attendance.
The day was packed full of presentations, starting in the morning with a general introduction by Robert Stoll, Commissioner for Patents, USPTO. Following Mr. Stoll was an informative presentation by Jasemine Chambers, Director of the Technology Center 2900. Ms. Chambers spoke about the progress they have made in reducing the time it takes to process a design patent application, despite the increasing number of applications they receive. One fact I found particularly interesting is that only 46% of design patent applications are submitted by US entities, with the rest coming from oversea. Japan submits the most applications, and in recent years China has been submitting many more than they have in the past.
The next presentation was from Clive Roux, CEO of the IDSA, who gave a compelling intro to the IDSA and Design practice in general. As his presentation continued he posed an interesting challenge; as design thinking continues to be implemented in industry, how can design protection be used to defend business processes and strategies that may be more ephemeral than an actual product? Clive’s presentation was very well received, due in part to his wonderful design images in his presentation.
The morning sessions continued with three more presentations from USPTO officials. Joel Sincavage, Design Practice Specialist spoke about the challenges in submitting good patent drawings. Karin Ferriter spoke about The implementation of the Hague Agreement, which is an international treaty to simply the submission and processing of international design patents. The final presentation of the morning was from Janet Gongola, who spoke about the role of the Solicitor’s office in the USPTO Design Patent Practice.
The lunch break was divided by industry and gave everyone a good opportunity to meet and mingle. I had an opportunity to meet a number of design patent examiners and patent attorneys.
The afternoon sessions kicked off with a presentation by Judge Charles E. Bullock who spoke about Litigation of Design PAtents berfore the ITC. Following Judge Bullock was Damon Neagle’s (Design IP) presentation about the recent precedents set by two cases involving plastic molded sandals (Crocs), and there relationship to the recently decided Egyptian Goddess case. After a short break, Perry Saidman, from Saidman Design Law Group, presented his thoughts regarding Design Patent law cases with a thorough analysis of the use of functionality in evaluating whether a product is infringing an design patent.
The final session was a panel discussion with all of the presenters fielding questions from the group. It was clear that there was still a lot of uncertainty regarding the impact of the Egyptian Goddess case on design patent litigation, particularly in the practice of using “functionality” to reduce the power of a design patent to protect against infringing designs.
By the end of the day I had reached my intellectual saturation point, and I imagine I will be processing the information I received for quite a while. My overall impression from the people I met is that many companies are now starting to realize the importance of a good design patent strategy. "
If you want to discuss this with Alan, you may want to join the LinkedIn Group (see above).