International Trade Commission (ITC)

Office workers everywhere are familiar with height-adjustable desks. These desks allow workers to raise or lower their work surfaces, and often workers will use a height-adjustable desk to perform tasks while standing instead of sitting. Varidesk is one of the most prominent designers and distributors of height-adjustable desks. Like many US retailers that offer popular products, Varidesk observed knockoff copies for sale in the US from numerous foreign entities. Fortunately for Varidesk, its patent portfolio provided a way to defend its business.
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Design patents can be a useful way to complement an IP portfolio because they can protect the way a product looks instead of how it works. Many consumer products can be defined this way, either in conjunction with, or even in lieu of, utility patents. Where utility patents cover a technical innovation, design patents must claim “ornamental” designs and cannot cover a “primarily functional” design that is essential to the use of the covered product.
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