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Design Patents and the Supreme Court.

On October 11th, for the first time in over 100 years, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding design patent law. Modern Edge founder, Charles Austen Angell has been involved in utility patent and design patent corporate policy and strategy for over 20 years. He believes this may be a very significant development in the protection of intellectual property.

As many in the field understand, design patent infringement is quite different than utility patent infringement both in determination and penalty. There is a good reason for this. Utility patents steal from the inventor – a very serious problem; however design patents steal from the inventor, potentially decieve and harm the public, and undermining confidence in a free market by interfering with market choice. This is why congress made the penalties on intentional infringement very encompassing. The finding of infringment merans that 100% of profits are awarded to the infringee when infringement of an article of manufacture is determined.

Much of the argument before the Supreme Court centered on the definition and common understanding of  an “Article of Manufacture”.  Many in the field are concerned that the dialogue during the hearing may have not focused on the key point which is that design protections accelerate innovation while enabling consumers to choose market winners. You can read the hearing transcripts on this link.


Charles Austen Angell

CEO Modern Edge.