Tag: Ford

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Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair
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Designing aftermarket auto parts: exhausting design patent rights

Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair

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.

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Designing aftermarket auto parts: exhausting design patent rights

The Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) brought a declaratory judgement action against Ford Global Technologies (Ford), the holding company for much of Ford Motor Company’s patent portfolio.  ABPA argued that design patents are inappropriate for auto-body parts and, in the alternative, that Ford’s design patents were unenforceable against the members of ABPA because the patent rights had exhausted upon the first sale of the vehicle. (Automotive Body Parts Association v. Ford Global Technologies, LLC, Case No. 2:15-cv-10137 (E.D. MI Feb. 20, 2018).)  The Court held that Ford’s designs for their vehicle components were indeed eligible for patent protection and further that the design patent rights were not exhausted when the vehicle was first sold.  Id. at 2.

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