Tag Archives: Design Patents

Dear Doc: Me want to protect cookie. How can do that? Signed,A Certain Monster Dear Mr. Monster: A recent case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals may help you to understand how cookies are protected. More than 50 years ago, Ezaki Glico Kabushiki Kaisha developed “Pocky” – a thin, elongated biscuit partially covered with chocolate. About […]

A ‘utility’ patent is different from a ‘design’ patent.  A ‘utility’ patent is directed to how something works – for example, how a mousetrap catches mice.  A ‘design’ patent addresses the decorative appearance of something – for example, a mousetrap that looks like a piece of cheese. Utility and design patents differ in their scope, […]

Utility patents protect what things do.  Design patents protect how things look.  Design patents have existed for well over 100 years:  “[w]homever invents any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefor … .”  So the design patent only applies to an ‘article of manufacture;’ that is, a physical product, and only […]

When is a chair just a chair (and not a trademark)? The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board” or “TTAB”) recently considered this question in an opinion on whether Herman Miller, Inc. (“Herman Miller”) could claim trademark rights in a famous chair design dating back from the 1940s when Charles and Ray Eames developed a technique for molding […]

When most inventors think of a patent, they think of a better-mousetrap type patent, known as a utility patent.  A utility patent protects what an invention is and how it works.  U.S. Patent 269,766 for a mousetrap that plugs a mouse with  a bullet from  a  .44 is an example of a utility patent.  Our […]

Utility patents protect what things are, how they work, or ways of doing things.  An example is the guillotine mousetrap that works by, well, the name says it all.  Design patents protect the ornamental design of a product, for example this mousetrap that looks like a demented cat.  The topic this month is design patents. Let’s say that […]

Lanyard Toys created a popular ‘chalk pencil’ that looked like a stubby pencil but that holds chalk.  Lanyard protected the invention with a design patent.  Remember that a design patent protects the appearance of a product, but not what it does or how it does it.*  Lanyard began selling its chalk pencils through a distributor to Toys-R-Us.  […]

No, I’m not referring to a Cubist masterpiece. Consider the following:  After long, hard work, you’ve created a great design, say, the design above.  Eureka!  Your design would go great with anything.  You can see it on chairs, on baskets, on car seats, on bridges, on tattooed biceps everywhere.  Just think of the possibilities.    But everyone else will want to use […]

Speaking of Apple v Samsung, the Supreme Court issued its decision in this long-running litigation about design patents.  To recap, Samsung copied the design of Apple’s iPhone and infringed Apple’s design patents in the process.  There is no question whether the Apple patents are valid – they are.  There is no question whether Samsung infringed […]

  If you have patents or have been involved in patenting, then you have heard about the  difference between design and utility patents.  The explanation probably went something like this: A utility patent protects how a thing does what it does.  A design patent protects the appearance of the thing. And: A design patent cannot […]

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