Design Patents: Meeting Obviousness and Novelty Requirements

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will guide patent counsel prosecuting and litigating design patent claims. The panel will examine recent USPTO and court treatment of novelty and obviousness issues and offer best practices for prosecuting and defending against obviousness and novelty attacks in litigation.


While many of the same requirements govern patentability of utility inventions and designs, the application of those requirements in these two contexts can be entirely different. Like utility inventions, designs must be novel and not obvious, but recent ambiguous rulings from the USPTO and courts have blurred the distinction between the two.

As a result, it can be seemingly easier to prove lack of novelty based on a single reference that is not identical to the claimed design than it can be to demonstrate that a design is obvious.

Listen as our authoritative panel of patent attorneys examines the current novelty and obviousness standards for design patents, as well as how the case law in these areas has developed. The panel will discuss steps that companies and counsel can take to challenge novelty and obviousness rejections in prosecution, and offer best practices for defending against such attacks in post-grant proceedings at the USPTO and in court.



  1. The novelty standard for designs and how it has evolved based on recent rulings from the Federal Circuit
  2. The obviousness standard for designs and how it has evolved based on recent rulings from the Federal Circuit
  3. Recent USPTO and district court treatment of novelty and obviousness
  4. Challenging novelty and obviousness rejections at the USPTO
  5. Best practices for defending against obviousness and novelty attacks in post-grant proceedings and in litigation


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How do the novelty and obviousness requirements for design patents differ from utility patents and each other?
  • How has the Federal Circuit and PTAB treated the issue of novelty and obviousness for design patents?
  • What are the steps that patent applicants can take to stand up to novelty and obviousness rejections before the USPTO?


Carani, Christopher
Christopher V. Carani

McAndrews Held & Malloy

Mr. Carani is nationally recognized in the field of design law, regarding the protection and enforcement of aesthetic...  |  Read More

Durkin, Tracy-Gene
Tracy-Gene Durkin

Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox

Ms. Durkin heads the firm’s Mechanical and Design Patent Group. With nearly 30 years of experience obtaining...  |  Read More

Katz, Robert
Robert S. Katz

Principal Shareholder
Banner Witcoff

In his practice, Mr. Katz has helped procure over 6,000 design patents in the U.S. and over 18,000 design...  |  Read More

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