Supreme Court overturns lower nullity decision
This year seems to be important for industrial models or their US equivalent, “patent designs,” as the Supreme Courts of both the US and Argentina are issuing rulings on this area.
The U.S. case has not been decided yet but is causing great buzz because it involves several types of intellectual property rights including patent designs over the iPhone, which Apple claimed are infringed by Samsung.
A large amount of monetary damages were first established by a jury in California in 2012 consisting of $US 930 million but were afterwards lowered to $US 548 million in 2015 (of those $US 399 million corresponded to infringement of patent designs), as described here. In June 2016 the Argentine Supreme Court overturned a decision issue by the Court of Appeals on Federal Civil and Commercial Matters seated in the city or Rosario.
The case started in 2004 by Industrias Arial against the related companies Fundemap and B.C.O. SRL based on the infringement of an industrial model registered by the plaintiff in 2002 with the Argentine PTO (INPI) entitled “GNC reducer”.
Some of the drawings filed with the INPI and describing the scope of the protected design do so in the following way:
In first and second instances the judge found that the defendant infringed the industrial model and awarded almost 3 million pesos (equal to US$ 500,000 in 2013 when the Court of Appeal issued its decision).
Both rulings rejected the claim of invalidity brought by the defendant because the judged considered that it should have been promoted in a separate judicial action, which was repeatedly appealed by Fundemat.
The Supreme Court finally agreed with the defendant basing its ruling on the facts that industrial model applications are only subject to formal examination and there is no substantive examination carried out to analyze the novelty, originality and other requirements.
Industrial models are usually recorded by INPI within less than a month from their filing date but the disadvantage of that is that they only grant a weak presumption related to their validity, which is always determined by federal judges.
Now the case is going back to the Court of Appeals of the City of Rosario for a new ruling.