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Sattler Tech Corp. v. Humancentric Ventures, LLC (P.T.A.B. Jul. 26, 2019)

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board designated as informative an institution decision that granted post-grant review of a design patent for lacking ornamentality.

Sattler had argued that the overall design of the mount adapter bracket covered by Humancentric's U.S. D823,093 patent was functional rather than ornamental. While 35 U.S.C. § 171(a) states that a design patent may be obtained for "any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture," "a design patent can be declared invalid if the claimed design is primarily functional rather than primarily ornamental, i.e., if the claimed design is dictated by the utilitarian purpose of the article," as stated by the Federal Circuit in High Point Design LLC v. Buyers Direct, Inc.

The PTAB agreed with Sattler and explained that “focusing on the overall appearance of the article..., we are persuaded that, on the present record, the claimed design for the adapter bracket as a whole appears primarily functional, rather than primarily ornamental. Of particular significance is Petitioner’s evidence that other mounting brackets contain the same individual elements of the claimed design as well as the same overall appearance of the bracket. Any differences, besides the raised grommets, between the other bracket designs known in the art and that of the design claimed in the ’093 patent appear to lie solely in unclaimed features, e.g., the specific shape of the bracket plate’s perimeter... Thus, on this record, there appears to be a lack of alternative designs, which weighs strongly in Petitioner’s favor."

Read the decision here.

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