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A seemingly small decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit could have a big impact on owners of design patents, explains Elizabeth Ferrill of Finnegan.
In October 2021, the Federal Circuit issued a two-and-half page decision in In re: SurgiSil, 14 F.4th 1380 (2021). Despite clocking in at just over 600 words, this small decision could have wide-ranging repercussions in the design patent jurisprudence, in three potential ways.
By way of background, Surgisil’s design application claimed a design for a lip implant. The examiner rejected the sole claim as anticipated by a catalogue disclosing a similar design, but the prior art design was for a completely different underlying article of manufacture, an art tool.
The Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB) affirmed the rejection, finding the differences in shape between the claimed design and the stump to be minor. It rejected Surgisil’s argument that the catalogue could not anticipate the claim because it disclosed a “very different” article of manufacture than a lip implant and, in the PTAB’s view, “it is appropriate to ignore the identification of the article of manufacture in the claim language”.
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Design patents, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Patent trial and appeal board