Three of the six Apple patents violated by Samsung are design patents rather than the more common utility patents. Design patents protect “any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture”. The ornamental design can be embodied in, or applied to, the article of manufacture. Design patents protect only the ornamental appearance of an invention, rather than its utility.
Most people are not familiar with this form of intellectual property. What are some examples of designs that can be protected by design patents?
The Three Apple Design Patents Violated by Samsung
Samsung violated three Apple design patents covering features of the iPhone:
D593,087: “Electronic Device”
The D’087 design patent covers the ornamental shape of the iPhone. Apple claimed: "The ornamental design of an electronic device, substantially as shown and described."
The jury found 3 models of Samsung's phones violated this design patent.
D618,677: “Electronic Device”
The D’677 design patent covers the ornamental shape and color of the black iPhone. Apple claimed: "The ornamental design of an electronic device, as shown and described."
The jury found 12 models of Samsung's phones violated this design patent.
D604,305: “Graphical User Interface for a Display Screen or Portion Thereof”
The D’305 design patent covers the rounded square icons of the iPhone’s home screen. Apple claimed: "The ornamental design for a graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof, as shown and described."
The jury found that 13 models of Samsung's phones used phone icons which copied the design and shape of Apple's rounded square phone icons.
Other Visual Examples of Design Patents
Design patents covering ornamental designs apply to many types of products:
D385,220: “Automobile Body”. This design patent covers the ornamental automobile body of the Volkswagon Beetle automobile.
D544,188: “Portion of an Article of Footwear”. The ‘188 design patent covers the ornamental design of a portion of an Ugg boot.
Terminal User Interfaces
D599,372: “Graphical User Interface for a Display Screen of a Communications Terminal”. This design patent covers the home page for Google.
D556,818: “Eyeglass Components”.
D176,657: “Control Instrument”. Honeywell's rotary thermometer.
D48,160: “Bottle or Similar Article”. Coca Cola’s classic “Contour” bottle.