Design Patent Litigation: Where Aesthetics and Law Intersect


apsa-125x125This post is co-written by Michael Kelleher and Morgan Smith

At Cogent Legal, we create presentations for a wide variety of cases. In each case, design plays into everything we do, from color choice to placement of images and text. These factors subtly influence a jury or judge and their perceptions of the evidence and argument. Well-done visual aids for trial use all the elements of good design to make a strong impact on the viewer, and can be crucial to the outcome of a dispute.

In a few types of cases (e.g., trademark, copyright and design patent), design itself can be a core factual issue at the heart of the dispute. In such cases, visual illustrations of differences and similarities may be more than just helpful, they may be a required element of proof. Without graphics, imagine trying to explain to a jury the differences between the iPad and a rival tablet. You simply could not do it.

Design patents have received much attention of late due to the Apple v. Samsung litigation. We find design patent litigation fascinating not only because graphics are at the heart, but also because of the role that design aesthetic plays. Out go the objective clear points of law defining the difference between the prevailing and losing parties, and in come the subjective evaluations of design, form and visual impact of a product. During the trial, the attorneys might start sounding more like art school teachers than lawyers. (more…)

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