In a design patent case involving the design of a personal flotation device having two arm bands connected to a torso piece, the Federal Circuit reversed the finding of non-infringement based on an erroneous claim construction.  The erroneous construction excluded the armbands and the side torso tapering because they are functional.  The court explained that, where a design contains both functional and non-functional elements, the scope of the claim must be construed in order to identify the non-functional aspects of the design.  But, this does not mean that the court should entirely eliminate a structural element from the claimed ornamental design, even though that element also serves a functional purpose.  Thus, the district court erred when it eliminated whole aspects of the claimed design. 

Coleman also appealed the district court’s decision to exclude its expert on the grounds that, although he was an expert in industrial design, he was not an expert in designing personal floatation devices.  The Federal Circuit affirmed this decision. 

Sport Dimension, Inc. v. The Coleman Company, Inc., Case No. 2015-1553 (April 19, 2016); Opinion by: Stoll, joined by Moore and Hughes; Appealed From: United States District Court for the Central District of California, O’Connell, J. Read the full opinion here.

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