Design Patent Blog

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April 24, 2014
by Axel
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Apple’s Design Patent Prosecution Practice

One may assume that Apple and their outside council know a thing or two about design patents. Recently I looked through the file wrapper of their Lightning Connector design application 29/426,587.


Apple Lightnig Connector

Here are some observations:

  1. The Design Application was filed on July 6th, 2012. The connector was introduced to the public on September 12th, 2012.
  2. Apple filed a Rocket Docket request – but not until January 2013, after the connector had been publicly released.
  3. The initial application contains a total of 144 figures, covering pretty much every possible permutations of claiming /not claiming design elements of the connector. The application was reduced to just one embodiment by preliminary amendment at the time of the rocket docket request.
  4. The initial application was filed with a lengthy appendix which includes the figures and various photographs. It seems the application is trying to over-disclose in order to prevent possible future new matter rejection.
  5. Up until now 9  continuation applications have been filed. Not all have published, but it seems save to assume that those cover permutations of the design that were removed from the lead application, likely in anticipation of a restriction requirement.


The practices used in this application might be generalized to the following best practices:

  • File a design application before public release of your product, and follow-up with a rocket docket request just after publication.
  • Have one lead-application which shows a complete design, and various permutations of design elements converted from solid lines to dotted lines.
  • Use an “appendix” to submit photos or any other documentation that may be useful to counter “new matter” rejections if any changes need to be made to the drawings.


March 30, 2014
by Axel
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Samsung Windows Phone

Display screen portion with iconReading rumors about a Samsung Windows phone (e.g. here): Well, given the design patent D701533 that published March 25th this seems to be valid… judging by the typical Windows layout of a phone screen.

March 19, 2014
by Axel
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Design Patents with Allowance Guarantee

Yuppo-LogoThis week I’d like to talk about a new product that my firm Smartpat is introducing.

It is called Yuppo. And it will revolutionize the traditional design patent prosecution model. In a nutshell, it combines two promises:

  1. An all-inclusive flat rate that covers all legal fees from filing to issue and
  2. an allowance guarantee.

Having worked primarily with smaller companies and individuals for several years I know how much they dislike an invoice over $50 or $100 just for forwarding an Office Action. Having an all-inclusive flat rate gets rid of all those nuisance bills. Instead, a single fee takes care of filing, formalities, reporting, asking questions, and even material responses to Office Actions, where needed. Also, there are no extra fees after allowance or for forwarding the patent certificate.

But while the flat fee seemed to address many of our client’s concerns, there was one aspect that kept bugging me:  That it would inherently create an incentive to dispose of a case quickly, rather than doing everything to getting it allowed. So we came up with another idea, unheard of in traditional patent prosecution: An Allowance Guarantee.  If we can’t get the design allowed, even though the inventor provides support and amended drawings, if needed, we promise to refund our legal fees. Now the incentive is clear: We really want the application allowed, because we want to keep our fee.

Feel free to check the concept out at



November 18, 2012
by Axel
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National Security Agency gives rare insight into their inner workings

This weeks I stumbled across what seemed like a very old-fashioned design for a slide rule. Curious, who would seek patent protection for something seemingly outdated, I found – our government. More specifically, the super-secret National Security Agency.

Seems the NSA provides a rare glimpse into their inner workings. It appears the agency that otherwise deals with breaking sophisticated cipher codes has a heart for good old technology. But then:  Keeping secrets is still in their blood:  The original design patent application was filed with a non-publication request, even though design patents don’t publish before issue anyway. Probably just to make sure.

Wonder what slide rule they use to read AES encrypted messages…


November 17, 2012
by Axel
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Moving to a new server

We are moving to a new server. Our gallery seemed awfully slow, so hopefully the new server will bring some improvement. While moving the website may be down occasionally.


We have moved to a new server, which should bring a significant improvement while browsing our library of design patent images. Currently we are at just under 100,000 images – growing by about 400-500 a week .

December 17, 2011
by Axel
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How to overcome design patent rejections

I always found that studying Office Actions and their responses by other patent practitioners is a great way to learn. This week I looked through the prosecution history of US Design Patent D650355 to Apple.  It covers the Design of an iPod, and was coincidentally posthumously awarded to Steve Jobs.

The application was subject to several rejections. In response to the Office Action the Applicants pointed out the differences between the prior art and the claimed design – which convinced the Examiner.  Good reference to keep in mind if you have to argue an obviousness rejection in a design patent app.


November 30, 2011
by Axel
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Patented Financial Freedom


This week it was a design patent on a game board that caught my attention.  Seems somewhat complicated, but surely the goal is prominently displayed: “Financial Freedom”. Seems you have to make it through various stages in life from school to retirement.

Not a bad reminder though as to how flexible design patents are.

Game board