Spigen Cellphone Case-Design Patent Revived by Fed. Cir.

Written April 27, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on April 17, 2020, held that a lower court erred when it invalidated three Spigen Korea Co. design patents covering cellphone cases. Spigen Korea Co. v. Ultraproof, Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 19-1435, 4/17/20.

The US District Court for the Central District of California invalidated the three Spigen patents in an infringement case against Ultraproof Inc. The district court held as a matter of law that the patents were invalid in light of two earlier design patents, agreeing with Ultraproof that the designs were “basically the same” despite “slight differences.”

The Federal Circuit found there were factual questions about whether the patents created the same visual impression. Because a reasonable factfinder could find either way based on the competing evidence, the Federal Circuit said summary judgment was inappropriate. The Court reversed the lower court’s decision and sent the case back for further proceedings.

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