Takeaway: The Federal Circuit ruled in a patent lawsuit that the scope of a design patent can be limited by the claim language where the language solely provides the article of manufacture which does not appear in the drawings.
The Federal Circuit, considering this case a matter of first impression, had to determine the scope of a design patent when the patented design drawings lacked the article allegedly infringed. The facts of the case are as such: a household products manufacturer, Curver Luxembourg SARL, brought an infringement action against Home Expressions claiming Home Expressions’ baskets infringed on Curver’s design patent which depicted an overlapping “Y” pattern in the drawings. However, baskets were not mentioned in the claim language, only a chair, and the drawing present in the design patent solely featured the overlapping “Y” pattern.
The U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Chen refused to interpret the design patent broadly to include any article the patented design would be affixed to, stating that design patents are issued when applied to an article “not a design per se.” The claim language therefore limits the scope of the patent to articles where “the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.” In this case, baskets were not mentioned in the claim language, nor depicted in the drawing itself. Therefore, the Federal Circuit ruled the “Y” pattern featured on Home Expressions’ baskets did not infringe on Curver’s patented design because it was limited in the application of the accompanying text.