US Design Protection: Amini Innovation Corp. v Anthony California Inc. and another

Rare and interesting insight into US design protection is provided by the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Amini Innovation Corp. v Anthony California Inc. and another. My thanks to Dennis Crouch for drawing this case to my attention.

There is no registered design protection as such in the USA. Designs are protected by design patents which appear to my uninformed eyes to have at least as much in common with utility models (or Irish short term or Australian innovation patents) as they do with design registration. Particularly interesting in my view was the passage of the judgment on claim construction and the “ordinary observer” test.

The claim was for infringement of a design patent in the design of a bed and for infringement of copyright. Again, there is much to interest the English and Commonwealth reader. Copyright is registered in the USA – though not with the Patent Office which is part of the executive branch of government there but with the Copyright Office which is within the Library of Congress which is their part of federal legislature. More exotic delights. Comfortingly you still have to prove copying there as we do here and the probanda seem to be much the same – objective similarity and an opportunity for access. In Amini the argument appears to have been over access.

Altogether an interesting way to start a Monday morning.


About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
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