Insights

what i've been thinking about lately - design, innovation, patent litigation & more

I spend a good deal of time at the intersection of product design and patent litigation, and often find myself digging into trends and recent events regarding innovation, technology, and culture. These interconnected themes impact both design and the IP landscape. I enjoy sharing my take on design, innovation, patent litigation, and more... Below are stories that have recently caught my attention. If you’d like to chat about anything you see, feel free to reach out or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
The $100 Million Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Golf Ball
June 17, 2024
joel's thoughts:

To produce golf’s premier ball, Loper and his team spent countless hours working with players and iterating through hundreds of different designs.

Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Federal Circuit Upends Longstanding Design Patent Obviousness Test
June 7, 2024
joel's thoughts:

Upending decades of continuity in the world of design patents, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”), sitting en banc in LKQ Corporation v. GM Global Technology Operations LLC, overturned the Rosen/Durling standard for obviousness of design patents.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
The 25 Most Defining Pieces of Furniture From the Last 100 Years
May 3, 2024
joel's thoughts:

The New York Times outs together a pretty good list of the most enduring and significant objects for living.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
The First-Gen Mini Cooper’s Exhaust Tips Were Modeled After A Can Of Budweiser
April 16, 2024
joel's thoughts:

After an accidental omission on the design model and a stroke of brilliance, the reborn Mini got inspiration from an unexpected source.

Innovation, Technology & Culture
Industrial Design & User Experience
Iris Apfel, Eye-Catcher With Kaleidoscopic Wardrobe, Dies at 102
March 28, 2024
joel's thoughts:

Another huge loss in the world of design... Iris was a fascinating woman, with more style in her pinky than most of us muster head to toe. Just pure class.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
Cars Without Real Buttons Are Too Distracting To Receive 5-Star Safety Rating In Europe
March 22, 2024
joel's thoughts:

Want a top auto safety rating in the EU? Better put some buttons on that dashboard...

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
Innovation, Technology & Culture
William Post, Pop-Tart Inventor, Dies at 96
March 11, 2024
joel's thoughts:

A bakery manager in Michigan, he worked with Kellogg’s to create the snack which became a timeless American classic.

Industrial Design & User Experience
The Fascinating Design History of the Humble Pocket Calculator
February 5, 2024
joel's thoughts:

Form is temporary, function is permanent. The most important inventions are the ones that relate to the human condition, and they crop up over and over again.

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Can This CEO Save a Sneaker That Lost Its Cool?
January 18, 2024
joel's thoughts:

Can a true master of brand building save Vans? Interesting insights and a fresh approach to learn from

Industrial Design & User Experience
‘This Has Been Going on for Years.’ Inside Boeing’s Manufacturing Mess.
January 14, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Have suspected for a while that Boeing's engineering and design teams were getting an unfairly bad rap... Great article discusses why (as so often the case) it's probably Wall Street's fault. I have friends in private equity, but I try to ignore what they do...

Industrial Design & User Experience
The C Pillar trim on the Kia Carnival is truly revolutionary in the world of auto design
January 11, 2024
joel's thoughts:

Just a photo and a design observation today... IMO the C Pillar trim on the Kia Carnival is truly revolutionary in the world of auto design.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
If You Love Fonts And Graphic Design, Go To A Classic Car Show
January 9, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Great slideshow about two of my favorite things, old cars and branding... Highly recommended Friday read!

Industrial Design & User Experience
Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
There's Only One Way To Install the Toilet Paper Roll
December 11, 2023
joel's thoughts:

My annual holiday reminder that there is only one right way to install a toilet paper roll, as protected by a US patent issued just before Christmas 1891

Industrial Design & User Experience
Yale neuroscientists discover why Zoom meetings make your brain go numb
November 15, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Neuroscience proves what we already knew about Zoom meetings, and explains why they suck so much...

Innovation, Technology & Culture
Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Our Merch, Ourselves
November 13, 2023
joel's thoughts:

What do the brands we wear say about us? Interesting thoughts here...

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
IDEO Cuts 1/3 of Staff and Closes Offices
November 7, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Is the era of design thinking truly over, or did IDEO just jump the shark it created?

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
The Fine Print: Avoiding IP Pitfalls in Unlicensed Fonts
October 19, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Excellent overview of legal issues related to the use of fonts in graphic and industrial design... Many designers are too casual about this (I was once guilty myself, unintentionally)

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
Candy Shape Indicating Flavor is Functional, Not protectable as Trade Dress
October 16, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Great follow up to last week's post about interior design trade dress... Here's an interesting case which just addressed trade dress functionality for candy shaped like the fruit flavor it represents

Innovation, Technology & Culture
Industrial Design & User Experience
The Price we Pay for Wearing Noise Canceling Headphones
October 9, 2023
joel's thoughts:

I've always believed there are significant costs to wearing noise-canceling devices, some more obvious than others... Great to see an article that lays it all out

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
That dressing room design may be valuable IP...
October 5, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Great article about protecting interior design through trade dress

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
Rage-Poking and Wet Fingers: Why Gadgets Need More Buttons
October 3, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Fantastic article about user interface problems posed by touch screens... Great to see such excellent coverage in the mainstream press

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
Can Polaroid Survive the AI Era?
September 29, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Polaroid's success in the digital era is a testament to its brand's proposition: The value of a Polaroid camera is authenticity. Life isn’t perfect, neither is a Polaroid picture. I'm a huge fan of modern instant cameras, highly recommend Fuji's Evo Mini for anyone thinking of dipping a toe.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
Manual Transmission Cars are Regaining Market Share in the US
September 27, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Best user interface news of the year... IMO, that more people want to shift for themselves reflects a sea change in the most fundamental man / machine interface humans have ever created.

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
Amazon's Electric Delivery Truck was Designed from the Ground Up to Meet Drivers' Unique Needs
September 25, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Love the way they used researched to prioritize drivers' needs in the design... Most used control? Hazard lights for frequent stops, so it has a dedicated mechanical switch (everything else is touchscreen-based.)

Industrial Design & User Experience
The Dream of Self-Cooling Shoes May be Closer to Reality
September 22, 2023
joel's thoughts:

This problem has literally been on inventors' "problems that need solving" lists for decades... This story shows why its been such a tough nut to crack

Industrial Design & User Experience
HP Is Selling a 40-Year-Old Calculator Again—For $120
June 1, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Has the retro electronics fad jumped the shark? I’d buy one if it wasn’t for the dorky “Collector’s Edition” logo…

Industrial Design & User Experience
Innovation, Technology & Culture
Kodak Vibes: This Disposable-Style Digital Camera Makes You Wait 24 Hours to See Your Photos
June 6, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Brilliant idea… “Disposable Digital” camera brings old school film experience to modern picture taking (full disclosure, I enthusiastically backed this Kickstarter)

Industrial Design & User Experience
Volkswagen CEO Admits It Was A Mistake To Abandon Buttons And Other Physical Controls
July 10, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Hate to say I told you so, but I called this one as soon as Diess made the announcement…

Industrial Design & User Experience
Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
How Airstream Became an American Icon
July 12, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Fantastic Friday read about the business behind one of America’s most iconic designs

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Overstock + Bed Bath and Beyond Branding
September 11, 2023
joel's thoughts:

I don’t think this headline overstates the business school case study this rebrand is destined to become…

Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
Industrial Design & User Experience
Thumbs Up Emoji Is an Official Contract Agreement, Canadian Court Rules
July 18, 2023
joel's thoughts:

A heads up to watch how you use those Emojis… A “thumbs up” could be costly

Patent Litigation & Intellectual Property
Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Industrial Design & User Experience
Lululemon's Dupe Strategy
August 18, 2023
joel's thoughts:

Not sure it’s effective from a $$ standpoint, but what a super creative way to deal with design knockoffs…

Trade Dress & Trademark Litigation
Normal vs Weird Branding
August 24, 2023
joel's thoughts:

With all the uncertainty in today’s world, is “safe” branding the way to go?

Industrial Design & User Experience
Thank The Lord, The Classic Steelies Are Back
August 21, 2023
joel's thoughts:

For my auto design colleagues and fellow car people… I think Dieter Rams is credited with saying “good design is just enough design”, and it’s so refreshing to see the comeback of simple, purposeful wheels. Other manufacturers take a lesson, and yes I’m looking at you Audi…