Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc., No. 18-1329 (Fed. Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Columbia’s 270 patent is a utility patent directed to materials that use a pattern of heat-directing elements coupled to a base fabric to manage heat through reflection or conductivity. Figures in the patent depict the material’s use in cold weather and camping gear. Its 093 patent is a design patent drawn to the “ornamental design of a heat reflective material.” In an infringement suit against Seirus, the jury found two claims in the 270 patent invalid as anticipated and obvious. The court entered summary judgment fining the 093 patent infringed. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the claims were invalid but reversed the summary judgment of infringement. In evaluating the prior art, the court erroneously compared Columbia’s design, Seirus’s product’s design, and a prior art patent design side-by-side before concluding that “[t]he overall visual effect of the Columbia and Seirus designs are nearly identical and if the logo was removed from the Seirus design, an ordinary observer would have great difficulty distinguishing between" the designs.” In evaluating prior art and wave thickness, the district court made a finding of fact—whether an element of Seirus’s design would give an ordinary observer a different visual impression than Columbia’s design—over a disputed factual record. Such questions should be resolved by a jury.