Federal Circuit Addresses Pleading Standard for Design Patents
In Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc., et al., the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("CAFC") addressed the standard for pleading infringement of a design patent. Case No. 2011-1165, 2011-1235 (Jan. 25, 2013). In Hall, the district court dismissed plaintiff/patentee's infringement claim for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit reversed that decision and remanded.
Hall invented a large tote towel with bindings, zippered pockets, and a cloth loop. He provided samples of the product to Bed Bath & Beyond ("BB&B") marked as "patent pending." Hall contends that BB&B copied the towel design and manufactured and sold copies. Hall sued BB&B, one of its executives in his personal capacity, and a BB&B supplier for design patent infringement once his application issued as U.S. Design Patent No. D596,439. The defendants raised various defenses and counterclaims. The district court dismissed all of Hall's claims on defendants' motion under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.
The district court stated that Hall's patent infringement complaint did not contain "any allegations to show what aspects of the Tote Towel merit design patent protection, or how each Defendant has infringed the protected patent claim." The CAFC outlined five elements of a patent infringement pleading:
- allege ownership of the patent
- name each defendant
- cite the patent that is allegedly infringed
- state the means by which the defendant allegedly infringes
- point to the section of the patent law invoked