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. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision 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.
The strength of a company’s intellectual property portfolio often drives the value of corporate transactions. Regardless of whether you are the acquisition target or the buyer in a transaction involving IP, the due diligence process should be designed to reveal the value of the intangible assets—patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. IP due diligence should ideally be conducted at the onset of negotiations. This not only allows a more reasoned value of the IP to be determined, but also enables proactive corrective action if any legal concerns are identified that may otherwise affect its valuation.
If a graphical user interface is important to your business’ overall brand, you should take another look at design patents. According to recent statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization the graphical user interface (GUI) and user experience (UX) space are among the fastest growing areas of design applications filed at the USPTO. Why are design patents so popular for protecting GUI elements of products?
When most people think about design patents, they think of consumer products, such as furniture, footwear, toys, car designs, and packaging. However, today, industries such as medical technology, electronics and software are utilizing design patents to add additional layers of IP protection to their products. In fact, designs in the graphical user interface and user experience space are the fastest growing area of design applications filed at the US Patent & Trademark Office.
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