Top News (23JUNE2008)

USPTO Deputy Director Margaret J.A. Peterlin talks with participants at a recent town hall meeting on industrial design protection

USPTO Deputy Director Margaret J.A. Peterlin talks with participants at a recent town hall meeting on industrial design protection.

USPTO Design Protection Town Hall Meeting Draws More than 75 Stakeholders
Participants represent wide array of business interests

On Monday, June 16, the USPTO hosted a town hall meeting on the subject of design protection at its Alexandria, Va., headquarters. This was the second meeting in a listening tour to seek the perspectives of parties concerned with issues related to the protection of industrial designs.

The meeting drew more than 75 participants, including more than a dozen presenters, representing diverse interests and businesses such as automobile companies, insurance companies, consumer products, consumer groups and independent parts manufacturers. Presenting companies and organizations included LHQ Corporation, Black & Decker Corporation, American Insurance Association, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, Ford Motor Company, MiCRA, American Antitrust Institute, Consumer Federation of America and others.

“Strong attendance and participation in this meeting advanced our understanding of the policy viewpoints surrounding the issue of design protection,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Margaret J.A. Peterlin. “Our innovation economy spans varied business models, and the administration is obligated to promote a strong, dependable IP system that supports it. Understanding the market effects of policy choices -- with the input we’ve received so far, and hope to hear from additional parties -- will improve our decision-making.”

In the United States, design patents can protect the ornamental appearance of articles of manufacture such as automobiles. Like the automobile industry, manufacturers of consumer products from high technology mobile phones to strollers and infant carriers rely heavily upon intellectual property (IP) protection as an important tool to ensure these companies see a return on their significant investment in design and product development.

Legislation has been introduced that would amend title 35 of the United States Code to create an exception from infringement for certain component parts used to repair another article. This legislation is not limited to repair of vehicles, and would apply equally to other consumer products such as coffee makers, drill bits for drills, and other machine parts.