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Archived updates for Monday, January 10, 2005

An (Invalid) Design Patent for a Drill Bit

In Jore Corporation v. Kouvato, Inc. v. Home Depot U.S.A.,Inc., et al. (Fed. Cir. January 7, 2005; non-precedential), U.S. Patent No. D419,575 (top) was invalidated in view of the prior art (middle and bottom). The court noted that
Simply because a piece of prior art contains a feature that is not present in the patent does not mean that the prior art teaches away from the patent. A reference teaches away only when a person of ordinary skill, upon examining the reference, would be discouraged from following the path set out in the reference, or would be led in a direction different from the path that was taken by the applicant.
According to the USPTO, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works ( 35 U.S.C. 101), while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks ( 35 U.S.C. 171). Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. While utility and design patents afford legally separate protection, as is the case for drill bits, the utility and ornamentality of an article "may not be easily separable."
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