Some product features are ornamental and others are functional. One manufacturer recently learned that the hard way when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that its bag’s design and shape were functional — and therefore not protected as trade dress.
Just how much patent infringement does it take to be liable for damages? The U.S. Supreme Court recently tackled this question in one context, ruling that supplying only one component of an infringing multicomponent invention made abroad doesn’t make the supplier liable for patent infringement. With that, the Court established a bright-line test for some circumstances, but created significant uncertainty for others.
Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “laches” — a plaintiff’s unreasonable delay in pursuing an infringement claim — couldn’t preempt a claim for damages sustained within the Copyright Act’s statute of limitations. Now the Court has extended its reasoning to patents, eliminating the laches defense for infringement allegedly committed within the Patent Act’s six-year statute of limitations.