Developing trends in design patent enforcement

By Jennifer A Golinveaux and Diana L Hughes

Design patents can be a powerful tool for protecting a company’s intellectual property – as illustrated by recent trends in enforcement – but a cohesive strategy is essential for such protection to work effectively

While the recent Apple v Samsung litigation over design patents relating to Apple’s iPhone has garnered international attention, the past few years have also seen a quieter but steady rise in the number of US design patent applications filed and granted, as well as emerging trends in the particular sectors in which they are being asserted and types of company asserting them. These trends reflect a broader movement towards using design patents as a tool in the IP arsenal, often in conjunction with the different protections afforded by utility patents, trademarks, trade dress and copyrights. However, while protecting an important product with complementary intellectual property can be a wise business decision, it is vital to develop a cohesive strategy that takes advantage of important protections while minimising the risks of invalidation.

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Issue 74