Auto parts’ aesthetic appeal doesn’t invalidate design patents
Abstract: Holders of design patents received some welcome news recently from a case in which some auto parts distributors sought declaratory judgment for invalidity of design patents to sell parts that were covered by a major vehicle manufacturer’s designs. This article reviews a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that sheds some valuable light on the type of functionality that can render a design patent invalid — and the type that won’t — as well as the importance of design patents. A short sidebar reviews the exhaustion and repair doctrines’ roles in the case. Automotive Body Parts Ass’n v. Ford Global Techs., LLC, No. 18-1613, July 11, 2019, Fed. Cir.