IDSA in the Spotlight at USPTO's 10th Annual Design Day

On April 19, 2016, IDSA Executive Director Daniel Martinage, CAE, and IDSA Board of Directors Chair Emeritus Austen Angell, FIDSA, spoke before a capacity crowd on What’s Trending in Design at the 10th annual United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Design Day. See the IDSA Photo Album.

Martinage shared how IDSA achieves its mission of advocacy, education, community and information through global initiatives, programs, publications, outreach and events. He showcased IDSA's International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)—as the prestigious competition begins its 36th year; five District Design Conferences in April; and the Education Symposium and International Conference, set for Detroit in August 2016.

Angell challenged the audience of 400 to imagine a world without design. "It would be a world without emotion... expression... empathy... passion... art... play... connection... function," he explained, adding that designers extend "where we are today, to where we want to be tomorrow."

"Everyone in this room is a member of the community," he told the designers, business owners, intellectual property attorneys, patent agents, patent examiners, higher education faculty and others who had gathered. "If it wasn't for all of you, we wouldn't be accelerating into a better society."

Other IDSA members attending the event were: Alan Ball, IDSA; Peter Bressler, FIDSA; Christopher Carani, A/IDSA; Jim Couch, IDSA; Tim Fletcher, FIDSA; Robert Katz, A/IDSA; Ron Kemnitzer, FIDSA; Charles Mauro, IDSA; Nancy Perkins, FIDSA; Perry Saidman, A/IDSA; and Cooper Woodring, FIDSA.

USPTO Design Day also sparked lively discussion about all aspects of design patents from conception through enforcement, such as:

  • Developments at the USPTO .including training of new design patent examiners and the new ID5 initiative.
  • Updates on US implementation of the Hague System in 2015 from the World Intellectual Property Organization's perspective.
  • Best practice tips and pitfalls of design patent prosecution from experienced practitioners and USPTO examiners.
  • Tips from industry leaders about how to take a design from concept to patenting to enforcement.
  • Updates and changes to the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) and the effect on design practice.
  • Important design patent decisions in the past year as summarized in the popular case law wrap-up.

The event was skillfully emceed by Supervisory Patent Examiner Celia Murphy. She introduced Drew Hirshfeld, USPTO Commissioner for Patents Drew HIrshfeld, who welcomed attendees. He said the number of design patent applications jumped from 11,000 in 1987 to 37,000 in 2015; while the number of design patent examiners climbed from only 24 in 1987, to almost 200 by the end of this year. He said the first Hague applications should be issued by the end of April 2016.

Group Director Robert Olszewski, who is retiring at the end of 2016 after a long career with USPTO, delivered his final State of the Technology Center. He projected almost 38,000 design patent renewal filings this year.

David Gerk, attorney-advisor of the Office of Policy and International Affairs, discussed International Developments in Design such as the first Industrial Design 5 (ID5) Forum held at USPTO in December 2015 with representatives from the count ires with the five largest patent offices in the world: United States; Japan; Korea; European Union; and China. ID5 acknowledged "the growing importance of industrial design" and focused on improving consistency in registration policies; cataloging office practices; promoting interoperable procedural frameworks; and protecting emerging designs such as graphical user interfaces (GUIs), animations and new technology.

An Update on Hague Implementation was presented by Grégoire Bisson, director of The Hague Registry Brands and Designs Sector of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva.

Bryce Rufener, patent attorney for Caterpillar Inc., offered an Update on MPEP Changes and Implications, followed by a Patent Prosecution Best Practices Panel: Views from Examiners and Practitioners moderated by Elizabeth Ferrill of Finnegan, LLP and featuring: Jeffrey Asch, USPTO; Karin Kearney, USPTO; Robert Katz, A/IDSA, attorney, Banner & Witcoff; and Margaret Polson, Polson IP Law.

Brian Kelleghan, founder and owner of pet and outdoor product maker Bison Designs in Longmont, CO, delivered an emotional and inspiration talk on Design Patents: Their Peaks and Pitfalls—Perspective from a Smaller Business Owner. The inventor shared how he overcame life-threatening illnesses and financial challenges to create a worldwide business of making everything from belts, to pet products, to outdoor recreation products. He credited constant innovation and specialty patent attorneys with keeping him steps ahead of the competition, and thwarting intellectual property thieves.

For an international perspective, Mesmin Pierre, director of the Copyright and Industrial Design Branch at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, delivered Practice Changes in Canada and Accession to the Hague System. He was impressed by Canada's neighbors to the south, calling USPTO Design Day "an inspirational event and absolutely first class!"

Patent attorney Daniel Gajewski of Sterne Kessler in Washington, DC.spoke on Permissible Hindsight: Retrospective on Classic Cases that Influenced Design Examination, followed by Apple v. Samsung at the Supreme Court: A Roadmap to Understanding the Issues by patent attorney James Aquilina of Design IP in Allentown, PA.

The event wrapped up with William Seymour of Lando & Anastasi, LLP, Cambridge, MA and a Report from the Front Line.

For the first time, Design Day was webcast to all four USPTO regional offices; Silicon Valley; Denver; Dallas and Detroit.  USPTO Design Day was co-sponsored by IDSA; American Intellectual Property Law Association; IP Law Section, American Bar Association; Intellectual Property Owners Association; and USPTO.