In the latest episode of IP Practice Vlogs, we will explore design patents, which protect the ornamental features of a functional item. Apple’s AirPods are functional but have a distinctive look that is identifying of its brand and maker, making them a great subject.
The first thing you do when patenting anything, including a design, is to decide the scope of your claim. In design patents, your scope is determined by what you claim, what you show and what you describe. Claimed features are depicted by solid lines. Dashed lines depict unclaimed features that provide environmental context for your claimed features that are in solid lines.
The United States allows for partial designs, so take advantage of it when you can. When deciding your scope (that is, deciding your embodiments and what to depict in solid or dashed lines) you and your client may choose to proceed with more than one scope in order to best protect your product. So, in that case, you are filing with more than one embodiment. For the AirPods, we should definitely patent more than one embodiment as there are several ways to protect the essential ornamental features of this design.
Also, should projections, holograms, virtual and augmented reality be protectible as industrial design patents under 35 U.S.C. 171? More in the episode.