Tracy-Gene G. Durkin is the practice leader of Sterne Kessler’s Mechanical & Design Practice Group and a member of the Trademark & Brand Protection Practice. Tracy has a well-earned reputation for excellence in design patent law. In 2018, Financial Times named her as one of the “Top Ten Legal Innovators in North America,” noting her as “a leading authority on design patents.” Tracy has been named among Chambers & Partners’ “recognized practitioners” in the IP Patent Prosecution, District of Columbia category. Among Tracy’s additional rankings in 2018, Legal 500 recognized her as a “Recommended Lawyer” in the U.S. for assisting a world leader in the consumer electronics space “with the development and implementation of its global design patent strategy, including the coordination of patent filings in over twenty countries worldwide.” Intellectual Asset Management’s “IAM Patent 1000” declared Tracy is the “design doyenne,” and World Trademark Review’s (WTR) annual WTR 1000 editors wrote that Tracy is particularly known for operating “at the vanguard of design patent law” and that she has “an affinity for matters at the intersection of trademarks, trade dress and design protection.” Tracy has also been heralded by WTR editors for being “as innovative as the products that she protects.” She is also a contributor to IPWatchdog.com.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) new director wasted no time getting down to business in terms of protecting design innovation in the United States. Only two days after being sworn in, Director Kathi Vidal announced the release of the USPTO’s Summary of public views on the article of manufacture requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 171. This report summarized public comments received in response to a December 2020 request by the USPTO. It is fitting to see the USPTO giving attention to protecting design innovation in new and emerging technologies since, as Director Vidal noted, design patents have been shown to provide a “catalyst for growth” and a “competitive edge” for U.S. manufacturers. With advancements in technology since the USPTO first issued guidelines for examining computer-generated designs in 1996, the Office wisely sought the public’s comments on whether its approach to 35 USC § 171’s requirement that a design be for an article of manufacture should be revised to account for new and emerging technologies.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators. For the second consecutive year, the number of design applications filed worldwide continued to grow, with an estimated 963,100 applications filed in total globally. The 2016 growth rate was 10.4%, following 2015’s more modest growth rate of 2.3% and 2014’s 10.2% drop in applications. 90% of the growth in 2016 can be attributed to increased filings in China.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators. The 2016 report dissects the macro trends associated with filing activity and registrations for 2015 in the following intellectual property areas: patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and plant varieties… The twenty-year era of growth in industrial design patent applications came to an abrupt end in 2014, with a substantial drop in applications filed by 10.2%. In 2015, these figures are back on the rise, with a 2.3% increase. The number of designs in applications also rose in 2015, with non-resident applicant designs being the primary catalyst for growth. China was the main contributor to the number of designs per application, providing half the global total.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators. The 2015 report dissects the macro trends associated with filing activity and registrations for 2014 in the following intellectual property areas: patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and plant varieties… The twenty-year era of growth in industrial design patent applications came to an abrupt end in 2014… The decline in global applications stems primarily from the pronounced decrease in resident filings at the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), which fell 14.9% over the past year.
This years’ list of the top 50 companies having been granted design patents was dominated by technology, automotive, and consumer product companies, with foreign corporations representing more than 40% of the top 50 with a total of 20 companies. According to the IPO data, in 2014 the top 50 design patent recipients received a combined total of 4,743 design patents, compared to 4,599 granted to the top 50 recipients in 2013. Specifically, the growth in 2014 was just under an increase of 150 design patents that were granted in 2014 compared to an increase of nearly 400 that occurred year-to-year from 2012 to 2013. Despite the recent slowdown, however, the prospects remain strong for continued growth in design patent applications in the coming years, especially as innovators look toward design patents to strengthen their IP portfolios.
In 2013, 647,300 industrial design registrations were filed – a 6.4% drop from 2012. The decline in global registrations stems primarily from the slow-down of Chinese manufacturing, which produced 12% fewer registrations than the previous year. After seven years of consecutive growth, 2013’s global registrations of 919,100 designs represents a 3.3% decrease from 2012. In 2013, upwards of three million industrial design registrations were in force.
Nike saw the largest increase in grants of any company. The Oregon company secured 159 more design patents than in 2012, and jumped from 10th to 3rd. Accompanying the resurgence of the U.S. automotive industry, Ford improved its standing among top design patent recipients by more than any other company. The company – ranked 36th previously – secured 10th position in this year’s ranking. The top ten list is completed by other consumer product mega-corporations including Apple, LG, Procter & Gamble, Panasonic, Research in Motion (RIM), and 3M. In 2013, seven companies held onto their top ten status. This change awarded Panasonic, 3M, and Ford the opportunity to break into the top 10, meanwhile, Toyota, Philips and FIH, a subsidiary of Foxconn, fell to 12th, 14th, and 25th respectively.
The past decade has seen tremendous growth in design patent filings, increasing from 582,000 in 2004 to over 1,217,000 in 2012 worldwide. In 2012, the 17% growth over the prior year in applications was the highest one year growth seen since reporting started in 2004… President Obama signed the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 into law in December of 2012. With the inclusion of the United States in the Hague system, it can be expected that international filings using the Hague system will continue on an upward trend. Gregoire Bisson, Director of the Hague Registry, was recently quoted stating that the Hague System will grow massively, as South Korea is scheduled to join in July, and “Japan, China, the 10 Asean countries and Russia could join in 2015.”