bigstock-gavel-on-law-book-on-a-black-b-46274383On November 25, 2013, the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Ford Global Technologies, LLC (Ford Global).  The lawsuit requested a declaration that certain Ford Global design patents directed toward automotive body repair parts are invalid and unenforceable under the doctrines of functionality and patent exhaustion.  ABPA is proceeding on the basis of associational standing.

Ford Global filed a motion to dismiss based on alleged lack of jurisdiction and the motion was denied.  Ford Global then filed a motion to transfer venue to the Eastern District of Michigan and the motion was granted.  The case currently is pending in the Eastern District of Michigan.

On October 31, 2016, ABPA filed a motion for summary judgment to invalidate the Ford Global design patents on the basis of functionality and to render them unenforceable on the basis of patent exhaustion.  Ford Global will file its response in January and ABPA will file its reply in February.  In the motion for summary judgment, ABPA argues that the Ford Global design patents are invalid and unenforceable as a matter of law.

In a second lawsuit, Ford Global filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Eastern District of Michigan against ABPA Member New World International (New World) and two related companies.  On October 31, 2016, New World filed a motion for summary judgment to invalidate the Ford Global design patents on the basis of functionality and to render them unenforceable of the basis of patent exhaustion.  Ford Global will file its response in January 2017 and New World will file its reply in February 2017.

In a third lawsuit, New World sued Ford Global in the Northern District of Texas seeking a declaration that the Ford Global design patents are invalid and unenforceable under the doctrines of functionality and patent exhaustion.  Association standing is not an issue in this lawsuit since New World and one other related company are proceeding individually.  Ford Global filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction and the Court granted the motion and dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning that an additional lawsuit could be filed.  New World appealed the dismissal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington DC.  The appeal is fully briefed and the Court soon will provide a date for oral argument.

In a fourth lawsuit, New World sued Ford Global in the Northern District of Texas seeking a declaration that the Ford Global design patents are invalid and unenforceable under the doctrines of functionality and patent exhaustion, and that the design patents are invalid because the drawings are inconsistent and indefinite.  A recent case decided by the United States Supreme Court strengthens the indefiniteness defense.  Ford Global filed a motion to dismiss due to alleged lack of personal jurisdiction.  The motion has been fully briefed and the parties are waiting a decision by the Court.

The courts are continuing to review and decide cases involving design patent functionality, patent exhaustion, and definiteness, and we are closely monitoring these cases and how they may impact the arguments we are making in our cases.