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Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc.

Design Patent Limited By Claim Text Notwithstanding Limitation’s Absence from Illustrations

Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., __ F.3d __, 2019 WL 4308879 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 12, 2019) (CHEN, Hughes, Stoll) (D.N.J.: McNulty) (4 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms dismissal of claim for design patent infringement for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Curver’s design patent claimed an “ornamental design for a pattern for a chair,” but none of the figures depicted a chair, only the pattern. The district court correctly determined that the patent’s scope was limited to a chair. “[W]e hold that claim language can limit the scope of a design patent where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.” Op. at 8. The opinion analyzes Gorham, 81 U.S. 511 (1871); Schnell, 46 F.2d 203 (CCPA 1931); and the history of PTO regulations, reasoning that design patents are generally limited to an article of manufacture. “It is inappropriate to ignore the only identification of an article of manufacture just because the article is recited in the design patent’s text, rather than illustrated in the figures.” Op. at 11. Glavas, 230 F.2d 447 (CCPA 1956), is not contradictory; the opinion criticizes Curver’s reliance on dictum, expresses doubt that Glavas goes as far as Curver would like, and notes that in any event Garver is subject to the discussion of standards for patent infringement in Egyptian Goddess, 543 F.3d 665 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc).

KEYWORDS: DESIGN PATENTS; CLAIM CONSTRUCTION; ARTICLE OF MANUFACTURE