Design Registration in the USA
In most countries patents and registered designs
are separate and distinct, but in the USA the shape and appearance of a
manufactured article is protected by a special kind of patent, known as a design
Design patents may be granted
to anyone who “invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of
The basis in patent law is
revealed by the requirement to file a written “specification” which includes
a formal patent claim. In reality,
the description contained in the specification consists of nothing more than a
title and a brief description of the various Figures comprised in the drawings.
The claim is of standard format along the lines of “I claim the
ornamental design for a [title] as shown”.
In the UK and Europe the formal
requirements for the various images showing the design are now pretty relaxed. Formal objections to the depictions of the design are quite
rare, and one gets the impression that if the applicant decides not to show the
design clearly and completely that is of no real concern to the registration
authorities (although this may come back to bite an unwitting applicant if his
design is copied). In contrast, the
United States still applies very strict formal requirements, and formal
objections are relatively common. Indeed, one often has a mental image of US
Examiners going over the drawings with a magnifying glass looking for ragged or
uneven lines. The various views are
also scrutinized for any inconsistencies between them, and if any aspect of the
design is deemed unclear it may be necessary to submit amended drawings.
Views are required to show the
article from all sides, and in perspective, in order to comply with the
requirement to disclose the design completely and clearly.
It is also possible to disclaim certain features shown in the drawings,
showing the disclaimed features in dashed lines.
© Craske & Co., 2009
Last updated: 27 December 2010