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Notes on Titan Tire Corp. v. Case New Holland, Inc. (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit)

  • 06.23.09
  • Tracy-Gene G. Durkin
  • Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.

There were several surprises in the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Titan Tire Corp. v. Case New Holland, Inc., including the court’s treatment of Titan’s argument that the trial court erred by invoking the Supreme Court’s decision in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex, Inc.   Titan argued that the trial court’s reliance on the passage in the KSR opinion dealing with the “predictable use of prior art elements according to their established functions” has no applicability in the design patent context because design patents are ornamental rather than functional.  According to the Federal Circuit, the trial court did not rely on the KSR analysis, but recognized that the application of KSR to design patents was “new and untested ground.”  Further, the court said it is not obvious that the Supreme Court necessarily intended to exclude design patents from the reach of KSR.  If unpredictable results become a standard for design patentability, the system could come to halt.

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