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Automotive Body Parts Association v. Ford Global Technologies, LLC

Federal Circuit Affirms Win on Behalf of Ford Upholding Validity of Design Patents

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

On July 23, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the “Federal Circuit”) issued a precedential opinion affirming summary judgment in a case that challenged the validity and enforceability of design patents related to the Ford F-150 hood and headlamp. Brooks Kushman attorneys represented Ford Global Technologies, LLC (“Ford”), in the appeal, as well as in the underlying case in which summary judgment was granted.

The Automotive Body Parts Association (“ABPA”) brought suit against Ford and the lawsuit was transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit sought a declaratory judgment that two of Ford’s design patents, covering designs for the hood and headlamps of Ford’s F-150 trucks, were invalid or unenforceable. Brooks Kushman attorneys brought a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the district court.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court decision in an important precedential decision. In particular, the decision refuses to expand the judicially created functionality doctrine beyond utilitarian functionality and also refuses to change how repair and exhaustion law is applied to design patents.

Brooks Kushman shareholders Marc Lorelli and Frank Angileri led the team that obtained this favorable ruling from the district court on summary judgment.

Team Members Include: Marc Lorelli and Frank Angileri

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