The Design Group provides services to clients in the protection of ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. Design protection is directed to the appearance of a product, in contrast with the protection provided by utility patents, the latter protecting functional and structural features of a product. Additional options for protecting the appearance of a product, although subject to unique differences from design protection, include trademark, trade dress, and copyright law.
A design patent is obtained to exclude others from making, using, or selling the claimed design and the protection can be directed to ornamental shape and to surface ornamentation of a product. The scope of protection provided by a design patent is determined by the drawings and any so-called special descriptions in the specification of the patent. The preparation of the drawings at the time of filing a design application is critical to obtaining the maximum protection for the design.
Members of the Design Group have expertise in advising clients how best to protect their designs, including advice relating to the number of drawing views (not all surfaces of a product need be illustrated). For example, the Group provides advice relating to the judicious use of broken lines to depict any subject matter of the product that is not to be included within the scope of the claim to thereby broaden the scope of the claim (yet to provide the scope of the claim to be one that is novel and non-obvious vis-à-vis the prior art). A design patent with unnecessarily detailed drawings can result in a scope that fails to encompass an otherwise infringing product.