On Tuesday July 23, 2019, the Federal Circuit declined to fashion design-patent-specific doctrines of exhaustion or repair. Automotive Body Parts Ass’n v. Ford Global Techs., LLC, Case No. 2018-1613, slip op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. July 23, 2019).
Instead, the court reemphasized that the same rules apply to utility patents and to design patents unless otherwise provided by law. Id. Also concluding that “aesthetic appeal” is not functional, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in Ford’s favor. Id. The decision is notable for its widening of the gap between trade dress and design patents and for its reaffirmation of the principle that design patents and utility patents should, whenever possible, receive identical treatment under the law.