Bryan C. McIntire v. Sunrise Specialty Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents, Infringement
  • Date Filed: 05-07-2013
  • Case #: CIV. S 11 2495 LKK/CKD
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: U.S. District Court, E.D. California
  • Full Text Opinion

A design patent is infringed if “the patented design, or any colorable imitation thereof,” is applied to “any article of manufacture for the purpose of sale.”

Opinion(Karlton): Bryan McIntire ("McIntire") alleged that Sunrise Specialty Co. (“Sunrise”) infringed on McIntire’s toilet bowl design patent (“D254”) and moved for summary judgment. Sunrise bought toilet bowls from McIntire before deciding to send a McIntire bowl to China for replication to buy similar bowls from a Chinese manufacturer. Sunrise's bowl was similar but not identical to McIntire's D254 design, with McIntire’s D254 having distinct characteristics such as a row of beads on the underside of the rim, a stepped-down pedestal, and a toilet “throat” with a bulge similar to an “Adam’s Apple.” All of these distinctions were observable in at least five of the seven patent drawings. Design patents cover only what is shown in the application drawings, and nothing more. Therefore, the court concluded that the noted design features were so prominent in the patent drawings that no reasonable juror could find the features outside the patent’s scope. In other words, any product without these features was not within the scope of the D254 patent. McIntire also failed to produce any alternative designs that could have covered toilet bowls without the distinct features previously mentioned. Because the accused Chinese bowl did not contain the beads, the stepped-down pedestal, or the protruding Adam’s Apple, no ordinary person could find the accuse bowl infringed the claimed patent. Sunrise’s motion for summary judgment was GRANTED.

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