On March 9, 2020, the United States Supreme Court denied ABPA’s petition for writ of certiorari on the single question of “how should the article of manufacture be determined when applying the patent exhaustion and repair doctrines in design patent cases?”
While the ABPA is disappointed that the Supreme Court did not accept writ on the question at this time, the Supreme Court’s denial of ABPA’s petition is not an expression of the Court’s opinion on the merits of ABPA’s arguments. Under Supreme Court authority, there could be several reasons why the Supreme Court denied writ, which have nothing to do with the merits of the case.
For example, the Supreme Court may be waiting for the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to respond further to the arguments ABPA member New World International, Inc. is making against Ford Global Technologies LLC in a case currently before the Federal Circuit. In this second case, New World has pointed out numerous flaws in the reasoning of the Federal Circuit regarding patent exhaustion and design patents, which was the only issue the ABPA asked the Supreme Court to review.
In the second case, New World also is making arguments regarding functionality, the ordinary observer infringement test, and patent invalidity due to indefiniteness. Each of these issues is extremely important to the potential invalidity and unenforceability of design patents directed toward automotive body repair parts. The New World case has been fully briefed and oral argument is expected in mid to late summer of 2020.
About the ABPA
With more than 160 members, the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) occupies over 400 distinctive locations including collision parts distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, and parts recycling plants. ABPA’s members are responsible for distributing more than 80 percent of the independently produced aftermarket crash replacement parts sold to the collision repair trade. For more information about the ABPA, visit www.autobpa.com.