An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today heard arguments from LKQ Corporation, the U.S. government and GM Global Technology Operations in a case that could change the test for assessing design patent obviousness. The judges seemed interested in tweaking the existing “Rosen-Durling” test but struggled with getting the parties to clearly articulate a replacement approach wouldn’t be potentially just as bad. The so-called Rosen-Durling test for design patent obviousness requires that, first, under In re Rosen (C.C.P.A., 1982), courts identify a prior art reference “the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design.” Next, under Durling v. Spectrum Furniture Co., 101 F.3d 100, 103 (Fed. Cir., 1996)), if such a reference is identified, the court must consider whether it can be modified based on other references to come up with “the same overall visual appearance as the claimed design.”

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