District Judge Brian M. Cogan held the design of defendants’ lighter insert did not infringe U.S. Patent D501,274 (“the ’274 patent”), held by plaintiffs. The court found that no reasonable trier of fact could find that the designs of the two lighter inserts were substantially similar such that an ordinary observer would be induced to mistakenly purchase one instead of the other. The court found that a side-by-side view of the drawing from ’274 patent and the accursed produced revealed the differences between the two: the windguard of the ’274 patent has five vertical lines while the accused product has a pattern of dimples arranged in vertical, offset rows; the ’274 patent has a plain smooth surface while the accused product has a textured metal frame; the accused product has a square window on the lower part of the insert which is not included in the ’274 patent design; and the ’274 patent has a single burner whereas the accused product includes two burners.

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Plaintiff argued that an ordinary observer would not focus on minor differences such as the dimpled windguard. The court found the argument unconvincing because the windguard design inevitably influenced the overall effect of each lighter and the five vertical lines on the ’274 patent design were distinguishable as a signature element of the lighter.

Case: Cohen Harel v. KK Int’l Trading Co., No. 12 Civ. 4527 (BMC), 2014 BL 6448, (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2014)