Law School Case Brief
OddzOn Prods. v. Just Toys - 122 F.3d 1396 (Fed. Cir. 1997)
Whether a design patent is infringed is determined by first construing the claim to the design, when appropriate, and then comparing it to the design of the accused device. A design patent only protects the novel, ornamental features of the patented design. Where a design contains both functional and non-functional elements, the scope of the claim must be construed in order to identify the non-functional aspects of the design as shown in the patent.
OddzOn Products, Inc. (OddzOn) held a design patent for specially-designed football it sold. Just Toys, Inc., Lisco, Inc., and Spalding & Evenflo Companies, Inc. (Just Toys) sold a competing version of the football. OddzOn claimed that Just Toys infringed upon its design patent and trade dress. OddzOn argued the products were so similar as to cause confusion among public. Just Toys denied infringement and claimed OddzOn’s design patent invalid because it relied on confidential designs that, with known prior art, rendered design obvious. OddzOn appealed from the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granting summary judgment in favor of Just Toys. Just Toys cross-appealed from the decision granting summary judgment in favor of the patentee OddzOn on Just Toys' claim of patent invalidity.
Did Just Toys infringe upon OddzOn’s design patent or trade dress?
Applying 35 U.S.C.S. § 103(c), court held that confidential designs not owned by, or in common with, inventor under 35 U.S.C.S. § 102(f) were considered prior art for determining non-obviousness patent requirement. However, the court held that confidential designs at issue did not clearly render OddzOn’s invention obvious; thus, the patent was valid. The court then held that Just Toys did not infringe upon OddzOn’s design patent or trade dress as OddzOn failed to show substantial similarity as to products' ornamental aspects or packaging that would create a likelihood of confusion.
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