Reposted from Law A La Mode 

By: Tamar Duvdevani, Matt Ganas, and Amanda Liverzani  

In the United States, patent protection can be afforded to aesthetic innovation (design patents), and functional innovation (utility patents). Because binding precedent relating to design patents is relatively sparse, practitioners take note any time the Federal Circuit addresses thorny issues of design patent law. This is especially true when the patents-in-suit are directed to products that permeate our everyday lives – in a recent case, athletic uniforms worn by dogs. But the Federal Circuit’s opinion in MRC Innovations, Inc. v. Hunter MFG. LLP, 747 F.3d 1326 (Fed. Cir. 2014) does more than affirm the invalidity of patents claiming the ornamental design of canine sports jerseys. It provides much-needed guidance on obviousness standards applicable to design patents in the garment and apparel context.

Continue Reading Seeing Beyond the Doggie Wear: What MCR Innovations Teaches about the Obviousness of Design Patents in the Garment Industry

By Carissa Bower

For centuries, the idea that strong intellectual property protection spurs innovation and encourages creativity has been the lynchpin of IP laws, not to mention the mantra of IP lawyers. In The Knockoff Economy, the authors challenge that belief as they explore industries which receive weak, if any, IP protection, yet still manage to innovate and thrive. Authors Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman cover a wide variety of industries including fashion, fonts, cocktails, magic, football, and the financial services industry. Several trends which have allowed creativity to flourish outside the IP framework emerge over the course of the book, including the unique nature of certain industries, trends and fads, social norms, open-source methods, and first-mover advantages. The authors do not argue for a broad change in IP laws, but instead provide a window into how creativity and innovation differ in every industry.

The book begins with the fashion industry, where, the authors argue, copying actually speeds up the creative process. The fashion cycle rewards innovation, and success requires constant reinvention as first-adopters seek out newer designs once a prior design has become mainstream. This same trend can be seen in the culinary world where copying can be an indicator of success. The authors provide the example of the molten chocolate cake which started out in a high-end restaurant and can now be found on the menu of thousands of family restaurants around the world. While the rest of the world is finding ways to prevent copying, the authors show us several industries where imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.

Continue Reading Book Review: The Knockoff Economy