The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) new director wasted no time getting down to business in terms of protecting design innovation in the United States. Only two days after being sworn in, Director Kathi Vidal announced the release of the USPTO’s Summary of public views on the article of manufacture requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 171. This report summarized public comments received in response to a December 2020 request by the USPTO. It is fitting to see the USPTO giving attention to protecting design innovation in new and emerging technologies since, as Director Vidal noted, design patents have been shown to provide a “catalyst for growth” and a “competitive edge” for U.S. manufacturers. With advancements in technology since the USPTO first issued guidelines for examining computer-generated designs in 1996, the Office wisely sought the public’s comments on whether its approach to 35 USC § 171’s requirement that a design be for an article of manufacture should be revised to account for new and emerging technologies.
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