Monday, April 23, 2018

Ordinary Observer Test for Design Patent Infringement Requires More than "Quick Glance" to Determine "Same Basic Shape"

The court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of plaintiffs' vacuum cleaner design patents and rejected plaintiffs' argument that the ordinary observer test may be satisfied with a "quick glance" to determine "the same basic shape." "⁠[Plaintiffs' infringement expert] opined that when an ordinary observer is cognitively processing visual design, the process 'proceeds to a point where recognition takes place,' and '⁠[o]nce this happens, the ordinary observer does not (de facto) continue to view the product at greater levels of detail but simply confirms that the product matches the knowledge they have about a product and then moves on to the next visual or physical task.' According to this approach, 'when any design shape is perceived by the ordinary observer as a member of the [plaintiff's] patented category as determined by overall shape, the act of categorization may constitute baseline infringement. . . . The 'ordinary observer' assumed in [the expert's] analysis does not give the kind of attention to the designs that the Federal Circuit requires under the ordinary observer test. The ordinary observer must consider 'all of the ornamental features illustrated in the figures.' She cannot be assumed to simply take a quick glance at the two vacuums, conclude that they are the same basic shape, and stop looking. The ordinary observer is presumed to use more care in her evaluation."

Dyson, Inc. et al v. SharkNinja Operating LLC et al, 1-14-cv-00779 (ILND March 29, 2018, Order) (Dow, USDJ)

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