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1504    Examination [R-11.2013]

In design patent applications, ornamentality, novelty, nonobviousness enablement and definiteness are necessary prerequisites to the grant of a patent. The inventive novelty or unobviousness resides in the ornamental shape or configuration of the article in which the design is embodied or the surface ornamentation which is applied to or embodied in the design.

Novelty and nonobviousness of a design claim must generally be determined by a search in the pertinent design classes. It is also mandatory that the search be extended to the mechanical classes encompassing inventions of the same general type. Catalogs and trade journals as well as available foreign patent databases are also to be consulted.

If the examiner determines that the claim of the design patent application does not satisfy the statutory requirements, the examiner will set forth in detail, and may additionally summarize, the basis for all rejections in an Official action. If a reply to an Office action overcomes a rejection either by way of an amendment to the claim or by providing convincing arguments that the rejection should be withdrawn, that rejection must be indicated as withdrawn in the next Office action, unless such action is a notice of allowability. Likewise, any amendment to the specification or claim, or new drawing or drawing correction submitted in reply to an objection or objections in an Office action must be acknowledged in the next Office action, unless such action is a notice of allowability. When an examiner determines that the claim in a design application is patentable under all statutory requirements, but formal matters still need to be addressed and corrected prior to allowance, an Ex parte Quayle action will be sent to applicant indicating allowability of the claim and identifying the necessary corrections.

¶ 15.19.01    Summary Statement of Rejections

The claim stands rejected under [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use as summary statement of rejection(s) in Office action.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert appropriate basis for rejection, i.e., statutory provisions, etc.

¶ 15.58    Claimed Design Is Patentable (Ex parte Quayle Actions)

The claimed design is patentable over the references cited.

¶ 15.72    Quayle Action

This application is in condition for allowance except for the following formal matters: [1].

Prosecution on the merits is closed in accordance with the practice under Ex parte Quayle, 25 USPQ 74, 453 O.G. 213 (Comm'r Pat. 1935).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this action is set to expire TWO MONTHS from the mailing date of this letter.

If it is determined that a rejection of the claim should be given after a reply to a Quayle action, the indication of allowability set forth in the previous action must be withdrawn and prosecution reopened using the following form paragraph:

¶ 15.90    Indication of allowability withdrawn

The indication of allowability set forth in the previous action is withdrawn and prosecution is reopened in view of the following new ground of rejection.

With respect to pro se design applications, the examiner should notify applicant in the first Office action that it may be desirable for applicant to employ the services of a registered patent attorney or agent to prosecute the application. Applicant should also be notified that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cannot aid in the selection of an attorney or agent. If it appears that patentable subject matter is present and the disclosure of the claimed design complies with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112, the examiner should include a copy of the “Guide To Filing A Design Patent Application” with the first Office action and notify applicant that it may be desirable to employ the services of a professional patent draftsperson familiar with design practice to prepare the formal drawings. Applicant should also be notified that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cannot aid in the selection of a draftsperson. The following form paragraph, where appropriate, may be used.

¶ 15.66    Employ Services of Patent Attorney or Agent (Design Application Only)

As the value of a design patent is largely dependent upon the skillful preparation of the drawings and specification, applicant might consider it desirable to employ the services of a registered patent attorney or agent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cannot aid in the selection of an attorney or agent.

Applicant is advised of the availability of the publication “Attorneys and Agents Registered to Practice Before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.” This publication is for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

1504.01   Statutory Subject Matter for Designs [R-08.2012]

35 U.S.C. 171   Patents for designs.

Whoever invents any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

The provisions of this title relating to patents for inventions shall apply to patents for designs, except as otherwise provided.

The language “new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture” set forth in 35 U.S.C. 171 has been interpreted by the case law to include at least three kinds of designs:

  • (A) a design for an ornament, impression, print, or picture applied to or embodied in an article of manufacture (surface indicia);
  • (B) a design for the shape or configuration of an article of manufacture; and
  • (C) a combination of the first two categories.

See In re Schnell, 46 F.2d 203, 8 USPQ 19 (CCPA 1931); Ex parte Donaldson, 26 USPQ2d 1250 (Bd. Pat. App. & Int. 1992).

A picture standing alone is not patentable under 35 U.S.C. 171. The factor which distinguishes statutory design subject matter from mere picture or ornamentation, per se (i.e., abstract design), is the embodiment of the design in an article of manufacture. Consistent with 35 U.S.C. 171, case law and USPTO practice, the design must be shown as applied to or embodied in an article of manufacture.

A claim to a picture, print, impression, etc. per se, that is not applied to or embodied in an article of manufacture should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 as directed to nonstatutory subject matter. The following paragraphs may be used.

¶ 15.07.01    Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 171

The following is a quotation of 35 U.S.C. 171:

Whoever invents any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

The provisions of this title relating to patents for inventions shall apply to patents for designs, except as otherwise provided.

¶ 15.09    35 U.S.C. 171 Rejection

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 as directed to nonstatutory subject matter because the design is not shown embodied in or applied to an article.

Examiner Note:

This rejection should be used when the claim is directed to surface treatment which is not shown with an article in either full or broken lines.

¶ 15.44    Design Inseparable From Article to Which Applied

Design is inseparable from the article to which it is applied, and cannot exist alone merely as a scheme of ornamentation. It must be a definite preconceived thing, capable of reproduction, and not merely the chance result of a method or of a combination of functional elements (35 U.S.C. 171; 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs). See Blisscraft of Hollywood v. United Plastics Co., 189 F. Supp. 333, 127 USPQ 452 (S.D.N.Y. 1960), 294 F.2d 694, 131 USPQ 55 (2d Cir. 1961).

Form paragraphs 15.38 and 15.40 may be used in a second or subsequent action, where appropriate (see MPEP § 1504.02).

1504.01(a)   Computer-Generated Icons

To be directed to statutory subject matter, design applications for computer-generated icons must comply with the “article of manufacture” requirement of 35 U.S.C. 171.

I.   GUIDELINES FOR EXAMINATION OF DESIGN PATENT APPLICATIONS FOR COMPUTER-GENERATED ICONS

The following guidelines have been developed to assist USPTO personnel in determining whether design patent applications for computer-generated icons comply with the “article of manufacture” requirement of 35 U.S.C. 171.

A.   General Principle Governing Compliance With the “Article of Manufacture” Requirement

Computer-generated icons, such as full screen displays and individual icons, are 2-dimensional images which alone are surface ornamentation. See, e.g., Ex parte Strijland, 26 USPQ2d 1259 (Bd. Pat. App. & Int. 1992) (computer-generated icon alone is merely surface ornamentation). The USPTO considers designs for computer-generated icons embodied in articles of manufacture to be statutory subject matter eligible for design patent protection under 35 U.S.C. 171. Thus, if an application claims a computer-generated icon shown on a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or a portion thereof, the claim complies with the “article of manufacture” requirement of 35 U.S.C. 171. Since a patentable design is inseparable from the object to which it is applied and cannot exist alone merely as a scheme of surface ornamentation, a computer-generated icon must be embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof, to satisfy 35 U.S.C. 171. See MPEP § 1502.

“We do not see that the dependence of the existence of a design on something outside itself is a reason for holding it is not a design ‘for an article of manufacture.’ ” In re Hruby, 373 F.2d 997, 1001, 153 USPQ 61, 66 (CCPA 1967) (design of water fountain patentable design for an article of manufacture). The dependence of a computer-generated icon on a central processing unit and computer program for its existence itself is not a reason for holding that the design is not for an article of manufacture.

B.   Procedures for Evaluating Whether Design Patent Applications Drawn to Computer-Generated Icons Comply With the “Article of Manufacture” Requirement

USPTO personnel shall adhere to the following procedures when reviewing design patent applications drawn to computer-generated icons for compliance with the “article of manufacture” requirement of 35 U.S.C. 171.

  • (A) Read the entire disclosure to determine what the applicant claims as the design and to determine whether the design is embodied in an article of manufacture. 37 CFR 1.71 and 1.152-1.154.

    Since the claim must be in formal terms to the design “as shown, or as shown and described,” the drawing provides the best description of the claim. 37 CFR 1.153.

    • (1) Review the drawing to determine whether a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof, is shown. 37 CFR 1.152.

      Although a computer-generated icon may be embodied in only a portion of a computer screen, monitor, or other display panel, the drawing “must contain a sufficient number of views to constitute a complete disclosure of the appearance of the article.” 37 CFR 1.152. In addition, the drawing must comply with 37 CFR 1.84.

    • (2) Review the title to determine whether it clearly describes the claimed subject matter. 37 CFR 1.153.

      The following titles do not adequately describe a design for an article of manufacture under 35 U.S.C. 171: “computer icon”; or “icon.” On the other hand, the following titles do adequately describe a design for an article of manufacture under 35 U.S.C. 171: “computer screen with an icon”; “display panel with a computer icon”; “portion of a computer screen with an icon image”; “portion of a display panel with a computer icon image”; or “portion of a monitor displayed with a computer icon image.”

    • (3) Review the specification to determine whether a characteristic feature statement is present. 37 CFR 1.71. If a characteristic feature statement is present, determine whether it describes the claimed subject matter as a computer-generated icon embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof. See McGrady v. Aspenglas Corp., 487 F.2d 859, 208 USPQ 242 (S.D.N.Y. 1980) (descriptive statement in design patent application narrows claim scope).
  • (B) If the drawing does not depict a computer-generated icon embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or a portion thereof, in either solid or broken lines, reject the claimed design under 35 U.S.C. 171 for failing to comply with the article of manufacture requirement.
    • (1) If the disclosure as a whole does not suggest or describe the claimed subject matter as a computer-generated icon embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof, indicate that:
      • (a) The claim is fatally defective under 35 U.S.C. 171; and
      • (b) Amendments to the written description, drawings and/or claim attempting to overcome the rejection will ordinarily be entered, however, any new matter will be required to be canceled from the written description, drawings and/or claims. If new matter is added, the claim should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph).
    • (2) If the disclosure as a whole suggests or describes the claimed subject matter as a computer-generated icon embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof, indicate that the drawing may be amended to overcome the rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171. Suggest amendments which would bring the claim into compliance with 35 U.S.C. 171.
  • (C) Indicate all objections to the disclosure for failure to comply with the formal requirements of the Rules of Practice in Patent Cases. 37 CFR 1.71, 1.81-1.85, and 1.152-1.154. Suggest amendments which would bring the disclosure into compliance with the formal requirements of the Rules of Practice in Patent Cases.
  • (D) Upon reply by applicant:
    • (1) Enter any amendments; and
    • (2) Review all arguments and the entire record, including any amendments, to determine whether the drawing, title, and specification clearly disclose a computer-generated icon embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof.
  • (E) If, by a preponderance of the evidence (see In re Oetiker, 977 F.2d 1443, 1445, 24 USPQ2d 1443, 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1992) (“After evidence or argument is submitted by the applicant in response, patentability is determined on the totality of the record, by a preponderance of evidence with due consideration to persuasiveness of argument.”)), the applicant has established that the computer-generated icon is embodied in a computer screen, monitor, other display panel, or portion thereof, withdraw the rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171.

II.   EFFECT OF THE GUIDELINES ON PENDING DESIGN APPLICATIONS DRAWN TO COMPUTER-GENERATED ICONS

USPTO personnel shall follow the procedures set forth above when examining design patent applications for computer-generated icons pending in the USPTO as of April 19, 1996.

III.   TREATMENT OF TYPE FONTS

Traditionally, type fonts have been generated by solid blocks from which each letter or symbol was produced. Consequently, the USPTO has historically granted design patents drawn to type fonts. USPTO personnel should not reject claims for type fonts under 35 U.S.C. 171 for failure to comply with the “article of manufacture” requirement on the basis that more modern methods of typesetting, including computer-generation, do not require solid printing blocks.

IV.   CHANGEABLE COMPUTER GENERATED ICONS

Computer generated icons including images that change in appearance during viewing may be the subject of a design claim. Such a claim may be shown in two or more views. The images are understood as viewed sequentially, no ornamental aspects are attributed to the process or period in which one image changes into another. A descriptive statement must be included in the specification describing the transitional nature of the design and making it clear that the scope of the claim does not include anything that is not shown. Examples of such a descriptive statement are as follows:

“The subject matter in this patent includes a process or period in which an image changes into another image. This process or period forms no part of the claimed design;” or

“The appearance of the transitional image sequentially transitions between the images shown in Figs. 1-8. The process or period in which one image transitions to another image forms no part of the claimed design;” or

“The appearance of the transitional image sequentially transitions between the images shown in Figs. 1-8. No ornamental aspects are associated with the process or period in which one image transitions to another image.”

1504.01(b)   Design Comprising Multiple Articles or Multiple Parts Embodied in a Single Article

While the claimed design must be embodied in an article of manufacture as required by 35 U.S.C. 171, it may encompass multiple articles or multiple parts within that article. Ex parte Gibson, 20 USPQ 249 (Bd. App. 1933). When the design involves multiple articles, the title must identify a single entity of manufacture made up by the parts (e.g., set, pair, combination, unit, assembly). A descriptive statement should be included in the specification making it clear that the claim is directed to the collective appearance of the articles shown. If the separate parts are shown in a single view, the parts must be shown embraced by a bracket “}”. The claim may also involve multiple parts of a single article, where the article is shown in broken lines and various parts are shown in solid lines. In this case, no bracket is needed. See MPEP § 1503.01.

1504.01(c)   Lack of Ornamentality

I.   FUNCTIONALITY VS. ORNAMENTALITY

An ornamental feature or design has been defined as one which was “created for the purpose of ornamenting” and cannot be the result or “merely a by-product” of functional or mechanical considerations. In re Carletti, 328 F.2d 1020, 140 USPQ 653, 654 (CCPA 1964); Blisscraft of Hollywood v. United Plastic Co., 189 F. Supp. 333, 337, 127 USPQ 452, 454 (S.D.N.Y. 1960), aff’d, 294 F.2d 694, 131 USPQ 55 (2d Cir. 1961). It is clear that the ornamentality of the article must be the result of a conscious act by the inventor, as 35 U.S.C. 171 requires that a patent for a design be given only to “whoever invents any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” Therefore, for a design to be ornamental within the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 171, it must be “created for the purpose of ornamenting.” In re Carletti, 328 F.2d 1020, 1022, 140 USPQ 653, 654 (CCPA 1964).

To be patentable, a design must be “primarily ornamental.” “In determining whether a design is primarily functional or primarily ornamental the claimed design is viewed in its entirety, for the ultimate question is not the functional or decorative aspect of each separate feature, but the overall appearance of the article, in determining whether the claimed design is dictated by the utilitarian purpose of the article.” L. A. Gear Inc. v. Thom McAn Shoe Co., 988 F.2d 1117, 1123, 25 USPQ2d 1913, 1917 (Fed. Cir. 1993). The court in Norco Products, Inc. v. Mecca Development, Inc., 617 F.Supp. 1079, 1080, 227 USPQ 724, 725 (D. Conn. 1985), held that a “primarily functional invention is not patentable” as a design.

A determination of ornamentality is not a quantitative analysis based on the size of the ornamental feature or features but rather a determination based on their ornamental contribution to the design as a whole.

While ornamentality must be based on the entire design, “[i]n determining whether a design is primarily functional, the purposes of the particular elements of the design necessarily must be considered.” Power Controls Corp. v. Hybrinetics, Inc., 806 F.2d 234, 240, 231 USPQ 774, 778 (Fed. Cir. 1986). The court in Smith v. M & B Sales & Manufacturing, 13 USPQ2d 2002, 2004 (N. D. Cal. 1990), states that if “significant decisions about how to put it [the item] together and present it in the marketplace were informed by primarily ornamental considerations”, this information may establish the ornamentality of a design.

“However, a distinction exists between the functionality of an article or features thereof and the functionality of the particular design of such article or features thereof that perform a function.” Avia Group International Inc. v. L. A. Gear California Inc., 853 F.2d 1557, 1563, 7 USPQ2d 1548, 1553 (Fed. Cir. 1988). The distinction must be maintained between the ornamental design and the article in which the design is embodied. The design for the article cannot be assumed to lack ornamentality merely because the article of manufacture would seem to be primarily functional.

II.   ESTABLISHING A PRIMA FACIE BASIS FOR REJECTIONS UNDER 35 U.S.C. 171

To properly reject a claimed design under 35 U.S.C. 171 on the basis of a lack of ornamentality, an examiner must make a prima facie showing that the claimed design lacks ornamentality and provide a sufficient evidentiary basis for factual assumptions relied upon in such showing. The court in In re Oetiker, 977 F.2d 1443, 1445, 24 USPQ2d 1443, 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1992), stated that “the examiner bears the initial burden, on review of the prior art or on any other ground, of presenting a prima facie case of unpatentability.”

The proper evidentiary basis for a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 that a claim is lacking in ornamentality is an evaluation of the appearance of the design itself. The examiner’s knowledge of the art, a reply to a letter of inquiry, a brochure emphasizing the functional/mechanical features of the design, the specification of an analogous utility patent (the applicant’s or another inventor), or information provided in the specification may be used to supplement the analysis of the design. If a design is embodied in a specific mechanical article, the analysis that the design lacks ornamentality because its appearance is dictated by functional requirements should be supported by reference to utility patents or some other source of information about the function of the design. If the design is embodied in an article that has a more general use, such as a clip, the analysis and explanation as to why the design lacks ornamentality should be detailed and specific. The examiner’s contention that the specific appearance of the claimed design lacks ornamentality may be supported by the holding of the court in In re Carletti et al., 328 F.2d 1020, 140 USPQ 653 (CCPA 1964), that a design to be patentable must be “created for the purpose of ornamenting” the article in which it is embodied. The presence or lack of ornamentality must be made on a case by case basis.

Knowledge that the article would be hidden during its end use based on the examiner’s experience in a given art or information that may have been submitted in the application itself would not be considered prima facie evidence of the functional nature of the design. See Seiko Epson Corp v. Nu-Kote Int’l Inc., 190 F.3d 1360, 52 USPQ2d 1011 (Fed. Cir. 1999). “Visibility during an article’s ‘normal use’ is not a statutory requirement of §171, but rather a guideline for courts to employ in determining whether the patented features are ‘ornamental’.” Larson v. Classic Corp., 683 F. Supp. 1202, 7 USPQ2d 1747 (N.D. Ill. 1988). If there is sufficient evidence to show that a specific design "is clearly intended to be noticed during the process of sale and equally clearly intended to be completely hidden from view in the final use," it is not necessary that a rejection be made under 35 U.S.C. 171. In re Webb, 916 F.2d 1553, 1558, 16 USPQ2d 1433, 1436 (Fed. Cir. 1990). The mere fact that an article would be hidden during its ultimate end use is not the basis for a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171, but this information provides additional evidence to be used in support of the contention that the design lacks ornamentality. The only basis for rejecting a claim under 35 U.S.C. 171 as lacking in ornamentality is an evaluation of the design itself in light of additional information, such as that identified above.

Examples of proper evidentiary basis for a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 that a claim is lacking in ornamentality would be: (A) common knowledge in the art; (B) the appearance of the design itself; (C) the specification of a related utility patent; or (D) information provided in the specification.

A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 for lack of ornamentality must be supported by evidence and rejections should not be made in the absence of such evidence.

III.   REJECTIONS MADE UNDER 35 U.S.C. 171

Rejections under 35 U.S.C. 171 for lack of ornamentality based on a proper prima facie showing fall into two categories:

  • (A) a design visible in its ultimate end use which is primarily functional based on the evidence of record; or
  • (B) a design not visible in its normal and intended use as evidence that its appearance is not a matter of concern. In re Stevens, 173 F.2d 1015, 81 USPQ 362 (CCPA 1949); In re Webb, 916 F.2d 1553, 1558, 16 USPQ2d 1433, 1436 (Fed. Cir. 1990).

When the examiner has established a proper prima facie case of lack of ornamentality, “the burden of coming forward with evidence or argument shifts to the applicant.” In re Oetiker, 977 F.2d 1443, 1445, 24 USPQ2d 1443, 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1992). A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 for lack of ornamentality may be overcome by providing evidence from the inventor himself or a representative of the company that commissioned the design that there was an intent to create a design for the “purpose of ornamenting.” In re Carletti, 328 F.2d 1020, 1022, 140 USPQ 653, 654 (CCPA 1964). Attorney’s arguments are not a substitute for evidence. Once a proper prima facie case of lack of ornamentality is established by the examiner, it is incumbent upon applicant to come forth with countervailing evidence to rebut the rejection made by the examiner. Ex parte Webb, 30 USPQ2d 1064, 1067-68 (Bd. Pat. App. & Int. 1993). Form paragraph 15.08 or 15.08.01, where appropriate, may be used to reject a claim under 35 U.S.C. 171 for lack of ornamentality.

¶ 15.08    Lack of Ornamentality (Article Visible in End Use)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 as being directed to nonstatutory subject matter in that it lacks ornamentality. To be patentable, a design must be “created for the purpose of ornamenting” the article in which it is embodied. See In re Carletti, 328 F.2d 1020, 140 USPQ 653 (CCPA 1964).

The following evidence establishes a prima facie case of a lack of ornamentality: [1]

Evidence that demonstrates the design is ornamental may be submitted from the applicant in the form of an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132:

(a) stating the ornamental considerations which entered into the design of the article; and

(b) identifying what aspects of the design meet those considerations.

An affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 may also be submitted from a representative of the company, which commissioned the design, to establish the ornamentality of the design by stating the motivating factors behind the creation of the design.

Attorney arguments are not a substitute for evidence to establish the ornamentality of the claim. Ex parte Webb, 30 USPQ2d 1064, 1067-68 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993).

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert source of evidence of lack of ornamentality, for example, a utility patent, a brochure, a response to a letter of inquiry, etc.

¶ 15.08.01    Lack of Ornamentality (Article Not Visible in its Normal and Intended Use)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 as being directed to nonstatutory subject matter in that the design lacks ornamentality since it appears there is no period in the commercial life of applicant’s [1] when its ornamentality may be a matter of concern. In re Webb, 916 F.2d 1553, 1558, 16 USPQ2d 1433, 1436 (Fed. Cir. 1990); In re Stevens, 173 F.2d 1015, 81 USPQ 362 (CCPA 1949).

The following evidence establishes a prima facie case of lack of ornamentality: [2]

In order to overcome this rejection, two types of evidence are needed:

(1) Evidence to demonstrate there is some period in the commercial life of the article embodying the claimed design when its ornamentality is a matter of concern. Such evidence may include a showing of a period in the life of the design when the ornamentality of the article may be a matter of concern to a purchaser during the process of sale. An example of this type of evidence is a sample of sales literature such as an advertisement or a catalog sheet which presents the appearance of the article as ornamental and not merely as a means of identification or instruction; and

(2) Evidence to demonstrate the design is ornamental. This type of evidence should demonstrate “thought of ornament” in the design and should be presented in the form of an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 from the applicant:

(a) stating the ornamental considerations which entered into the design of the article; and

(b) identifying what aspects of the design meet those considerations.

An affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 may also be submitted from a representative of the company, which commissioned the design, to establish the ornamentality of the design by stating the motivating factors behind the creation of the design.

Attorney arguments are not a substitute for evidence to establish the ornamentality of the claim. Ex parte Webb, 30 USPQ2d 1064, 1067-68 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert the name of the article in which the design is embodied.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert source of evidence of the article’s design being of no concern, for example, an analysis of a corresponding utility patent, a brochure, a response to a letter of inquiry, etc.

IV.   OVERCOMING A 35 U.S.C. 171 REJECTION BASED ON LACK OF ORNAMENTALITY

A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 based on lack of ornamentality may be overcome by the following:

  • (A) An affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 submitted from the applicant or a representative of the company, which commissioned the design, explaining specifically and in depth, which features or area of the claimed design were created with:
    • (1) a concern for enhancing the saleable value or increasing the demand for the article. Gorham Manufacturing Co. v. White, 81 U.S. (14 Wall) 511 (1871), or
    • (2) a concern primarily for the esthetic appearance of the article;
  • (B) Advertisements which emphasize the ornamentality of the article embodying the claimed design may be submitted as evidence to rebut the rejection. See Berry Sterling Corp. v. Pescor Plastics Inc., 122 F.3d 1452, 43 USPQ2d 1953 (Fed. Cir. 1997);
  • (C) Evidence that the appearance of the design is ornamental may be shown by distinctness from the prior art as well as an attempt to develop or to maintain consumer recognition of the article embodying the design. Seiko Epson Corp. v. Nu-Kote Int’l Inc., 190 F.3d 1360, 52 USPQ2d 1011 (Fed. Cir. 1999);
  • (D) Evidence may be provided by a representative of the company, which commissioned the design, to establish the ornamentality of the design by stating the motivating factors behind the creation of the design;
  • (E) When the rejection asserts that the design is purely dictated by functional considerations, evidence may be presented showing possible alternative designs which could have served the same function indicating that the appearance of the claimed design was not purely dictated by function. L.A. Gear Inc. v. Thom McAn Shoe Co., 988 F.2d 1117, 25 USPQ2d 1913 (Fed. Cir. 1993);
  • (F) When the rejection asserts no period in the commercial life of the article when its ornamentality may be a matter of concern, the applicant must establish that the “article’s design is a ‘matter of concern’ because of the nature of its visibility at some point between its manufacture or assembly and its ultimate use.” In re Webb, 916 F.2d 1553, 1558, 16 USPQ2d 1433, 1436 (Fed. Cir. 1990).

Attorney arguments are not a substitute for evidence to establish the ornamentality of the claim. Ex parte Webb, 30 USPQ2d 1064, 1068 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993).

V.    EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE SUBMITTED TO OVERCOME A REJECTION UNDER 35 U.S.C. 171

In order to overcome a rejection of the claim under 35 U.S.C. 171 as lacking in ornamentality, applicant must provide evidence that he or she created the design claimed for the “purpose of ornamenting” as required by the court in In re Carletti, 328 F.2d 1020, 1022, 140 USPQ 653, 654 (CCPA 1964).

The mere display of the article embodying the design at trade shows or its inclusion in catalogs is insufficient to establish ornamentality. Ex parte Webb, 30 USPQ2d 1064 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993). There must be some clear and specific indication of the ornamentality of the design in this evidence for it to be given probative weight in overcoming the prima facie lack of ornamentality. Berry Sterling Corp. v. Pescor Plastics Inc., 122 F.3d 1452, 43 USPQ2d 1953 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

The examiner must evaluate evidence submitted by the applicant in light of the design as a whole to decide if the claim is primarily ornamental. It is important to be aware that this determination is not based on the size or amount of the features identified as ornamental but rather on their influence on the overall appearance of the design.

In a rejection of a claim under 35 U.S.C. 171 in which some of the evidentiary basis for the rejection is that the design would be hidden during its end use, the applicant must establish that the “article’s design is a ‘matter of concern’ because of the nature of its visibility at some point between its manufacture or assembly and its ultimate use.” In re Webb, 916 F.2d 1553, 1558, 16 USPQ2d 1433, 1436 (Fed. Cir. 1990). This concern may be shown by the submission of evidence that the appearance of the article was of concern during its period of commercial life by declarations from prospective/actual customers/users attesting that the ornamentality of the article was of concern to them. Unless applicant is directly involved with the sale of the design or works with users of the design, he or she cannot provide factual evidence as to the reasons for the purchase/selection of the article embodying the design.

Once applicant has proven that there is a period of visibility during which the ornamentality of the design is a “matter of concern,” it is then necessary to determine whether the claimed design was primarily ornamental during that period. Larson v. Classic Corp., 683 F. Supp. 1202, 7 USPQ2d 1747 (N. D. Ill. 1988). The fact that a design would be visible during its commercial life is not sufficient evidence that the design was “created for the purpose of ornamenting” as required by the court in In re Carletti, 328 F.2d 1020, 1022, 140 USPQ 653, 654 (CCPA 1964). Examiners should follow the standard for determining ornamentality as outlined above.

“The possibility of encasing a heretofore concealed design element in a transparent cover for no reason other than to avoid this rule cannot avoid the visibility [guideline]... , lest it become meaningless.” Norco Products Inc. v. Mecca Development Inc., 617 F. Supp. 1079, 1081, 227 USPQ 724, 726 (D. Conn. 1985). Applicant cannot rely on mere possibilities to provide factual evidence of ornamentality for the claimed design.

The requirements for visibility of the design and that it was created for the “purpose of ornamenting” must be met for a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 to be overcome if the design would be hidden during its end use.

1504.01(d)   Simulation

35 U.S.C. 171 requires that a design to be patentable be “original.” Clearly, a design which simulates an existing object or person is not original as required by the statute. The Supreme Court in Gorham Manufacturing Co. v. White, 81 U.S. (14 Wall) 511 (1871), described a design as “the thing invented or produced, for which a patent is given.” “The arbitrary chance selection of a form of a now well known and celebrated building, to be applied to toys, inkstands, paper - weights, etc. does not, in my opinion, evince the slightest exercise of invention....” Bennage v. Phillippi, 1876 C.D. 135, 9 O.G. 1159 (Comm’r Pat. 1876). This logic was reinforced by the CCPA in In re Smith, 25 USPQ 359, 360, 1935 C.D. 565, 566 (CCPA 1935), which stated that “to take a natural form, in a natural pose, ... does not constitute invention” when affirming the rejection of a claim to a baby doll. This premise was also applied in In re Smith, 25 USPQ 360, 362, 1935 C.D. 573, 575 (CCPA 1935), which held that a “baby doll simulating the natural features...of a baby without embodying some grotesqueness or departure from the natural form” is not patentable.

Therefore, a claim directed to a design for an article which simulates a well known or naturally occurring object or person should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 as nonstatutory subject matter in that the claimed design lacks originality. Form paragraph 15.08.02 should be used. However, when a claim is rejected on this basis, examiners should provide evidence, if possible, of the appearance of the object, person or naturally occurring form in question so that a comparison may be made to the claimed design. Form paragraph 15.08.03 should be used. It would also be appropriate, if the examiner has prior art which anticipates or renders the claim obvious, to reject the claim under either 35 U.S.C. 102 or 103(a) concurrently. In re Wise, 340 F.2d 982, 144 USPQ 354 (CCPA 1965).

¶ 15.08.02    Simulation (Entire Article)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 as being directed to nonstatutory subject matter in that the design lacks originality. The design is merely simulating [1] which applicant himself did not invent. See In re Smith, 25 USPQ 359, 1935 C.D. 565 (CCPA 1935); In re Smith, 25 USPQ 360, 1935 C.D. 573 (CCPA 1935); and Bennage v. Phillippi, 1876 C.D. 135, 9 O.G. 1159.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert the name of the article or person being simulated, e.g., the White House, Marilyn Monroe, an animal which is not stylized or caricatured in any way, a rock or shell to be used as paperweight, etc.
  • 2. This form paragraph should be followed by form paragraph 15.08.03 when evidence has been cited to show the article or person being simulated.

¶ 15.08.03    Explanation of evidence cited in support of simulation rejection

Applicant’s design has in no way departed from the natural appearance of [1]. This reference is not relied on in this rejection but is supplied merely as representative of the usual or typical appearance of [2] in order that the claim may be compared to that which it is simulating.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert name of article or person being simulated and source (patent, publication, etc.).
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert name of article or person being simulated.

1504.01(e)   Offensive Subject Matter

Design applications which disclose subject matter which could be deemed offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group, or nationality, such as those which include caricatures or depictions, should be rejected as nonstatutory subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 171. See also MPEP § 608. Form paragraph 15.09 should be used.

¶ 15.09.01    Offensive Subject Matter

The disclosure, and therefore the claim in this application, is rejected as being offensive and therefore improper subject matter for design patent protection under 35 U.S.C. 171. Such subject matter does not meet the statutory requirements of 35 U.S.C. 171. Moreover, since 37 CFR 1.3 proscribes the presentation of papers which are lacking in decorum and courtesy, and this includes depictions of caricatures in the disclosure, drawings, and/or a claim which might reasonably be considered offensive, such subject matter as presented herein is deemed to be clearly contrary to 37 CFR 1.3. See MPEP § 608.

1504.02   Novelty [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 102  Conditions for patentability; novelty

  • (a) NOVELTY; PRIOR ART.—A person shall be entitled to a patent unless—
    • (1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; or
    • (2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued under section 151, or in an application for patent published or deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.
  • (b) EXCEPTIONS.—
    • (1) DISCLOSURES MADE 1 YEAR OR LESS BEFORE THE EFFECTIVE FILING DATE OF THE CLAIMED INVENTION.—A disclosure made 1 year or less before the effective filing date of a claimed invention shall not be prior art to the claimed invention under subsection (a)(1) if—
      • (A) the disclosure was made by the inventor or joint inventor or by another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor; or
      • (B) the subject matter disclosed had, before such disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor.
    • (2) DISCLOSURES APPEARING IN APPLICATIONS AND PATENTS.—A disclosure shall not be prior art to a claimed invention under subsection (a)(2) if—
      • (A) the subject matter disclosed was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor;
      • (B) the subject matter disclosed had, before such subject matter was effectively filed under subsection (a)(2), been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor; or
      • (C) the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
  • (c) COMMON OWNERSHIP UNDER JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENTS.—Subject matter disclosed and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person in applying the provisions of subsection (b)(2)(C) if—
    • (1) the subject matter disclosed was developed and the claimed invention was made by, or on behalf of, 1 or more parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the effective filing date of the claimed invention;
    • (2) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
    • (3) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
  • (d) PATENTS AND PUBLISHED APPLICATIONS EFFECTIVE AS PRIOR ART.—For purposes of determining whether a patent or application for patent is prior art to a claimed invention under subsection (a)(2), such patent or application shall be considered to have been effectively filed, with respect to any subject matter described in the patent or application—
    • (1) if paragraph (2) does not apply, as of the actual filing date of the patent or the application for patent; or
    • (2) if the patent or application for patent is entitled to claim a right of priority under section 119, 365(a), or 365(b) or to claim the benefit of an earlier filing date under section 120, 121, or 365(c), based upon 1 or more prior filed applications for patent, as of the filing date of the earliest such application that describes the subject matter.

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102   Conditions for patentability; novelty and loss of right to patent.

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless —

  • (a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or
  • (b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States, or
  • (c) he has abandoned the invention, or
  • (d) the invention was first patented or caused to be patented, or was the subject of an inventor’s certificate, by the applicant or his legal representatives or assigns in a foreign country prior to the date of the application for patent in this country on an application for patent or inventor’s certificate filed more than twelve months before the filing of the application in the United States, or
  • (e) the invention was described in — (1) an application for patent, published under section 122(b), by another filed in the United States before the invention by the applicant for patent or (2) a patent granted on an application for patent by another filed in the United States before the invention by the applicant for patent, except that an international application filed under the treaty defined in section 351(a) shall have the effects for the purposes of this subsection of an application filed in the United States only if the international application designated the United States and was published under Article 21(2) of such treaty in the English language; or
  • (f) he did not himself invent the subject matter sought to be patented, or
  • (g)(1) during the course of an interference conducted under section 135 or section 291, another inventor involved therein establishes, to the extent permitted in section 104, that before such person’s invention thereof the invention was made by such other inventor and not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed, or (2) before such person’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another inventor who had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it. In determining priority of invention under this subsection, there shall be considered not only the respective dates of conception and reduction to practice of the invention, but also the reasonable diligence of one who was first to conceive and last to reduce to practice, from a time prior to conception by the other.

35 U.S.C. 172  Right of priority

The right of priority provided for by subsections (a) through (d) of section 119 shall be six months in the case of designs. The right of priority provided for by section 119(e) shall not apply to designs.

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 172   Right of priority.

The right of priority provided for by subsections (a) through (d) of section 119 of this title and the time specified in section 102(d) shall be six months in the case of designs. The right of priority provided for by section 119(e) of this title shall not apply to designs.

The standard for determining novelty under 35 U.S.C. 102 was set forth by the court in In re Bartlett, 300 F.2d 942, 133 USPQ 204 (CCPA 1962). “The degree of difference [from the prior art] required to establish novelty occurs when the average observer takes the new design for a different, and not a modified, already-existing design.” 300 F.2d at 943, 133 USPQ at 205 (quoting Shoemaker, Patents For Designs, page 76). In design patent applications, the factual inquiry in determining anticipation over a prior art reference is the same as in utility patent applications. That is, the reference “must be identical in all material respects.” Hupp v. Siroflex of America Inc., 122 F.3d 1456, 43 USPQ2d 1887 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

The “average observer” test does not require that the claimed design and the prior art be from analogous arts when evaluating novelty. In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 450, 109 USPQ 50, 52 (CCPA 1956). Insofar as the “average observer” under 35 U.S.C. 102 is not charged with knowledge of any art, the issue of analogousness of prior art need not be raised. This distinguishes 35 U.S.C. 102 from 35 U.S.C. 103(a) which requires determination of whether the claimed design would have been obvious to “a person of ordinary skill in the art.”

When a claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102 as being unpatentable over prior art, those features of the design which are functional and/or hidden during end use may not be relied upon to support patentability. In re Cornwall, 230 F.2d 447, 109 USPQ 57 (CCPA 1956); Jones v. Progress Ind. Inc., 119 USPQ 92 (D. R.I. 1958). Further, in a rejection of a claim under 35 U.S.C. 102, mere differences in functional considerations do not negate a finding of anticipation when determining design patentability. Black & Decker, Inc. v. Pittway Corp., 636 F.2d 1193, 231 USPQ 252 (N.D. Ill. 1986).

It is not necessary for the examiner to cite or apply prior art to show that functional and/or hidden features are old in the art as long as the examiner has properly relied on evidence to support the prima facie lack of ornamentality of these individual features. If applicant wishes to rely on functional or hidden features as a basis for patentability, the same standard for establishing ornamentality under 35 U.S.C. 171 must be applied before these features can be given any patentable weight. See MPEP § 1504.01(c).

In evaluating a statutory bar based on 35 U.S.C. 102(b), the experimental use exception to a statutory bar for public use or sale (see MPEP § 2133.03(e)) does not usually apply for design patents. See In re Mann, 861 F.2d 1581, 8 USPQ2d 2030 (Fed. Cir. 1988). However, Tone Brothers, Inc. v. Sysco Corp., 28 F.3d 1192, 1200, 31 USPQ2d 1321, 1326 (Fed. Cir. 1994) held that “experimentation directed to functional features of a product also containing an ornamental design may negate what otherwise would be considered a public use within the meaning of section 102(b).” See MPEP § 2133.03(e)(6).

Registration of a design abroad is considered to be equivalent to patenting under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) and 35 U.S.C. 102(d), whether or not the foreign grant is published. (See Ex parte Lancaster, 151 USPQ 713 (Bd. App. 1965); Ex parteMarinissen, 155 USPQ 528 (Bd. App. 1966); Appeal No. 239-48, Decided April 30, 1965, 151 USPQ 711, (Bd. App. 1965); Ex parte Appeal decided September 3, 1968, 866 O.G. 16 (Bd. App. 1966). The basis of this practice is that if the foreign applicant has received the protection offered in the foreign country, no matter what the protection is called (“patent,” “Design Registration,” etc.), if the United States application is timely filed, a claim for priority will vest. If, on the other hand, the U.S. application is not timely filed, a statutory bar arises under 35 U.S.C. 102(d) as modified by 35 U.S.C. 172. In order for the filing to be timely for priority purposes and to avoid possible statutory bars, the U.S. design patent application must be made within 6 months of the foreign filing. See also MPEP § 1504.10.

The laws of each foreign country vary in one or more respects.

The following table sets forth the dates on which design rights can be enforced in a foreign country (INID Code (24)) and thus, are also useable in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) rejection as modified by 35 U.S.C. 172. It should be noted that in many countries the date of registration or grant is the filing date.

Country or Organization Date(s) Which Can Also Be Used for 35 U.S.C. 102(d) Purposes1 (INID Code (24)) Comment
AT-Austria Protection starts on the date of publication of the design in the official gazette
AU-Australia Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
BG-Bulgaria Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
BX-Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) Date on which corresponding application became complete and regular according to the criteria set by the law
CA-Canada Date of registration or grant
CH-Switzerland Date of registration or grant which is the filing date Minimum requirements: deposit application, object, and deposit fee
CL-Chile Date of registration or grant
CU-Cuba Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
CZ-Czech Republic Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
DE-Germany Date of registration or grant The industrial design right can be enforced by a court from the date of registration although it is in force earlier (as from the date of filing—as defined by law).
DK-Denmark Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
EG-Egypt Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
ES-Spain Date of registration or grant
FI-Finland Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
FR-France Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
GB-United Kingdom Date of registration or grant which is the filing date Protection arises automatically under the Design Right provision when the design is created. Proof of the date of the design creation needs to be kept in case the design right is challenged. The protection available to designs can be enforced in the courts following the date of grant of the Certificate of Registration as of the date of registration which stems from the date of first filing of the design in the UK or, if a priority is claimed under the Convention, as another country.
HU-Hungary Date of registration or grant With retroactive effect as from the filing date
JP-Japan Date of registration or grant
KR-Republic of Korea Date of registration or grant
MA-Morocco Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
MC-Monaco Date of registration or grant which is the filing date Date of prior disclosure declared on deposit
NO-Norway Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
OA-African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d`Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
PT-Portugal Date of registration or grant
RO-Romania Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
RU-Russian Federation Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
SE-Sweden Date of registration or grant
TN-Tunisia Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
TT-Trinidad and Tobago Date of registration or grant which is the filing date
WO-World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Subject to Rule 14.2 of the Regulations (on defects), the International Bureau enters the international deposit in the International Register on the date on which it has in its possession the application together with the items required. Reproductions, samples, or models pursuant to Rule 12, and the prescribed fees.
1Based on information taken from the “Survey of Filing Procedures and Filing Requirements, as well as of Examination Methods and Publication Procedures, Relating to Industrial Designs” as adopted by the PCIPI Executive Coordination Committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at its fifteenth session on November 25, 1994.

Rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) as modified by 35 U.S.C. 172 should only be made when the examiner knows that the application for foreign registration/patent has actually issued before the U. S. filing date based on an application filed more than six (6) months prior to filing the application in the United States. If the grant of a registration/patent based on the foreign application is not evident from the record of the U. S. application or from information found within the preceding charts, then the statement below should be included in the first action on the merits of the application:

¶ 15.03.01.fti    Foreign Filing More Than 6 Months Before U.S. Filing, Application Filed Before March 16, 2013

Acknowledgment is made of the [1] application identified in the oath or declaration or application data sheet which was filed more than six months prior to the filing date of the present application. Applicant is reminded that if the [2] application matured into a form of patent protection before the filing date of the present application it would constitute a statutory bar to the issuance of a design patent in the United States under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) in view of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 172.

Examiner Note:

In brackets 1 and 2, insert the name of country where application was filed.

Form paragraphs for use in rejections under 35 U.S.C. 102 and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 are set forth below.

¶ 15.10.aia    Application Examined Under AIA First Inventor to File Provisions

The present application, filed on or after March 16, 2013, is being examined under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should be used in any application subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.

¶ 15.10.fti    Application Examined Under First Inventor to File Provisions

The present application, filed on or after March 16, 2013, is being examined under the pre-AIA first to invent provisions.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should be used in any application filed on or after March 16, 2013, that is subject to the pre-AIA prior art provisions.

¶ 15.10.15    Notice re prior art available under both pre-AIA and AIA

In the event the determination of the status of the application as subject to AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103 (or as subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103) is incorrect, any correction of the statutory basis for the rejection will not be considered a new ground of rejection if the prior art relied upon, and the rationale supporting the rejection, would be the same under either status.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be used in all Office Actions when a prior art rejection is made in an application with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claims priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013.
  • 2. This form paragraph should only be used ONCE in an Office action.

¶ 15.11.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) as being clearly anticipated by [1] because the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the reference applied against the claimed design.
  • 2. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.
  • 3. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/35 U.S.C. 103 as amended by the AIA. Appropriate form paragraphs indicating treatment as a first inventor to file application should be included, i.e., form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.01.aia and any of form paragraphs 15.10.101.aia15.10.105.aia.

¶ 15.11.aia    35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) Rejection

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) as being clearly anticipated by [1] because the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the reference applied against the claimed design.
  • 2. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aiaand 15.10.15.

¶ 15.12.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) Rejection

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) as being clearly anticipated by [1] because the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, or in public use or on sale in this country more than one (1) year prior to the application for patent in the United States.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the reference applied against the claimed design.
  • 2. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.13.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c) Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c) because the invention has been abandoned.

¶ 15.14.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d)/35 U.S.C. 172 Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d), as modified by pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 172, as being clearly anticipated by [1] because the invention was first patented or caused to be patented, or was the subject of an inventor’s certificate by the applicant, or his/her legal representatives or assigns in a foreign country prior to the date of the application for patent in this country on an application for patent or inventor’s certificate filed more than six (6) months before the filing of the application in the United States.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, identify the reference applied against the claimed design.

¶ 15.15.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being clearly anticipated by [1] because the invention was described in a patented or published application for patent by another filed in the United States before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the reference applied against the claimed design.
  • 2. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.15.aia    35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) Rejection

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) as being clearly anticipated by [1] because the claimed invention was described in a patent issued under section 151, or in an application for patent published or deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the reference applied against the claimed design.
  • 2. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.
  • 3. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the AIA.

¶ 15.16.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 because applicant did not himself invent the subject matter sought to be patented.

¶ 15.17.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g)because, before the applicant’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another who had not abandoned, suppressed or concealed it.

Examiner Note:

For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.fti and 15.10.15.

¶ 15.17.aia    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) Rejection

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 because, before the applicant’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another who had not abandoned, suppressed or concealed it.

A rejection based on this statutory basis can be made in an application or patent that is examined under the first to file provisions of the AIA if it also contains or contained at any time (1) a claim to an invention having an effective filing date as defined in 35 U.S.C. 100(i) that is before March 16, 2013, or (2) a specific reference under 35 U.S.C. 120, 35 U.S.C. 121, or 35 U.S.C. 365(c) to any patent or application that contains or contained at any time such a claim.

Examiner Note:

For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.

¶ 15.09.02.aia    Statement of Statutory Bases, 35 U.S.C. 171 and 35 U.S.C. 115-Improper Inventorship

The following is a quotation of 35 U.S.C. 171:

Whoever invents any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

The provisions of this title relating to patents for inventions shall apply to patents for designs, except as otherwise provided.

35 U.S.C. 115(a) reads as follows (in part):

An application for patent that is filed under section 111(a) or commences the national stage under section 371 shall include, or be amended to include, the name of the inventor for any invention claimed in the application.

The present application sets forth incorrect inventorship because [1].

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 and 35 U.S.C. 115 for failing to set forth the correct inventorship for the reasons stated above.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert the basis for concluding that the inventorship is incorrect.

¶ 15.09.03.aia    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 115-Improper Inventorship

An application for patent that is filed under section 111(a) or commences the national stage under section section 371 shall include, or be amended to include, the name of the inventor for any invention claimed in the application.

The present application sets forth incorrect inventorship because [1].

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 and 35 U.S.C. 115 for failing to set forth the correct inventorship for the reasons stated above.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used ONLY when a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 on another basis has been made and the statutory text thereof is already present.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.07.01 for a rejection based on improper inventorship.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert an explanation of the supporting evidence establishing that an improper inventor is named.

¶ 15.24.05.fti    Identical Claim: Common Assignee

The claim is directed to the same invention as that of the claim of commonly assigned copending Application No. [1]. The issue of priority under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) and possibly pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) of this single invention must be resolved. Since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office normally will not institute an interference between applications or a patent and an application of common ownership (see MPEP § 2302), the assignee is required to state which entity is the prior inventor of the conflicting subject matter. A terminal disclaimer has no effect in this situation since the basis for refusing more than one patent is priority of invention under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C.102(f) or (g) and not an extension of monopoly. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in a holding of abandonment of this application.

The following form paragraph should be included after the form paragraph setting forth the rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b) , (d) or (e) to provide an explanation of the applied reference.

¶ 15.15.01.fti    Explanation of rejection under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b), (d), or (e)

The shape and appearance of [1] is identical in all material respects to that of the claimed design, Hupp v. Siroflex of America Inc., 122 F.3d 1456, 43 USPQ2d 1887 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph should be included after paragraph 15.11.fti, 15.12.fti, 15.14.fti or 15.15.fti to explain the basis of the rejection.
  • 2. In bracket [1], identify the reference applied against the claimed design.
  • 3. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.15.01.aia    Explanation of rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or 102(a)(2)

The shape and appearance of [1] is identical in all material respects to that of the claimed design, Hupp v. Siroflex of America Inc., 122 F.3d 1456, 43 USPQ2d 1887 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph should be included after paragraph 15.11.aia or 15.15.aia to explain the basis of the rejection.
  • 2. In bracket [1], identify the reference applied against the claimed design.

The following form paragraphs may be used to reject a claim under 37 CFR 1.102(e) over an application or patent having an earlier effective U.S. filing date with a common inventor and/or assignee, or that discloses but does not claim the design.

¶ 15.15.02.fti    Provisional Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection - design disclosed but not claimed in another application with common inventor and/or assignee

The claim is provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being anticipated by copending Application No. [1] which has a common [2] with the instant application.

Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application.

Since the design claimed in the present application is not the same invention claimed in the [3] application, the examiner suggests overcoming this provisional rejection in one of the following ways: (A) a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the design in the reference was derived from the designer of this application and is thus not the invention “by another;” (B) a showing of a date of invention for the instant application prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the reference under 37 CFR 1.131(a); (C) perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 that antedates the reference by filing a certified priority document in the application that satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112 first paragraph; or (D) perfecting the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 by adding a specific reference to the prior filed application in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78 and establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112 first paragraph. If the application was filed before September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title or in an application data sheet; if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet.

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is used to provisionally reject over a copending application (utility or design) with an earlier filing date that discloses (but does not claim) the claimed invention which has not been patented or published under 35 U.S.C. 122. The copending application must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor.
  • 2. Use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventor’s Protection Act (AIPA) (form paragraph 7.12.fti) to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. Use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (form paragraph7.12.01.fti) only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365 (c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s pre-AIA or pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert inventor or assignee.
  • 4. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.15.02.aia    35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) Provisional rejection - design disclosed in another application with common inventor and/or assignee

The claim is provisionally rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)as being anticipated by copending Application No. [1] which has a common [2] with the instant application.

Because the copending application names another inventor and has an earlier effective filing date, it would constitute prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented. This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application.

This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the design in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor of this application and is thus not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 that antedates the reference by filing a certified priority document in the application that satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (3) perfecting the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78 and establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (4) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (5) providing a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) that the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement.

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is used to provisionally reject over a copending application (utility or design) with an earlier filing date that discloses the claimed invention which has not been patented or published under 35 U.S.C. 122. The copending application must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert inventor or assignee.
  • 3. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.
  • 4. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the AIA.

¶ 15.15.03.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) provisional rejection - design claimed in an earlier filed design patent application with common inventor and/or assignee

The claim is provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being anticipated by the claim in copending Design Patent Application No. [1] which has a common [2] with the instant application.

Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), if patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is based upon a presumption of future patenting of the copending application. The rejection may be overcome by abandoning the earlier filed copending application.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert inventor or assignee.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.24.05.fti to notify the applicant that the question of patentability under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f)/(g) also exists.
  • 3. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.15.04.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection - design disclosed but not claimed in a patent

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 as being anticipated by patent [1].

Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.

Since the design claimed in the present application is not the same invention claimed in patent [2], the examiner suggests overcoming this rejection in one of the following ways: (A) a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the design in the reference was derived from the designer of this application and is thus not the invention “by another;” (B) a showing of a date of invention for the instant application prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the reference under 37 CFR 1.131(a); (C) perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 that antedates the reference by filing a certified priority document in the application that satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112 first paragraph; or (D) perfecting the benefit claim 35 U.S.C. 120 by adding a specific reference to the prior filed application in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78 and establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or 35 U.S.C. 112 first paragraph. If the application was filed before September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title or in an application data sheet; if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet.

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design or utility patent but is not claimed therein. When the design claimed in the application being examined is disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design patent, it would most often be in the form of subcombination subject matter, (part or portion of an article), that is patentably distinct from the claim for the design embodied by the combination or whole article. It may also be unclaimed subject matter depicted in broken lines in the earlier filed application.
  • 2. In brackets 1 and 2, insert number of patent.
  • 3. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.15.04.aia    35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) rejection - design disclosed in a patent

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) as being anticipated by patent [1].

Because the patent names another inventor and has an earlier effective filing date, it constitutes prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2).

This rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the disclosure in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor of this application and is thus not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 that antedates the reference by filing a certified priority document in the application that satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (3) perfecting the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78 and establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (4) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (5) providing a statement pursuant to35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) that the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement.

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design or utility patent. When the design claimed in the application being examined is disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design patent, it would most often be in the form of subcombination subject matter, (part or portion of an article), that is patentably distinct from the claim for the design embodied by the combination or whole article. It may also be unclaimed subject matter depicted in broken lines in the earlier filed application.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert number of patent.
  • 3. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.

The following form paragraphs may be used in a second or subsequent action, where appropriate.

¶ 15.38    Rejection Maintained

The arguments presented have been carefully considered, but are not persuasive that the rejection of the claim under [1] should be withdrawn.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert basis of rejection.

¶ 15.40.01    Final Rejection Under Other Statutory Provisions

The claim is again and FINALLY REJECTED under [1] as [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert statutory basis.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert reasons for rejection.
  • 3. See paragraphs in MPEP Chapter 700, for “Action is Final” and “Advisory after Final” paragraphs.

1504.03   Nonobviousness [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 103   Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

  • (a) A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 of this title, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.

*****

  • (c)
    • (1) Subject matter developed by another person, which qualifies as prior art only under one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g) of section 102 of this title, shall not preclude patentability under this section where the subject matter and the claimed invention were, at the time the claimed invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) For purposes of this subsection, subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person if —
      • (A) the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
      • (B) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
      • (C) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (2), the term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.

A claimed design that meets the test of novelty must additionally be evaluated for nonobviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

I.   GATHERING THE FACTS

The basic factual inquiries guiding the evaluation of obviousness, as outlined by the Supreme Court in Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), are applicable to the evaluation of design patentability:

  • (A) Determining the scope and content of the prior art;
  • (B) Ascertaining the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art;
  • (C) Resolving the level of ordinary skill in the art; and
  • (D) Evaluating any objective evidence of nonobviousness (i.e., so-called “secondary considerations”).

A.   Scope of the Prior Art

The scope of the relevant prior art for purposes of evaluating obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) extends to all “analogous arts.”

While the determination of whether arts are analogous is basically the same for both design and utility inventions (see MPEP § 904.01(c) and § 2141.01(a)), In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 450 109 USPQ 50, 52 (CCPA 1956) provides specific guidance for evaluating analogous arts in the design context, which should be used to supplement the general requirements for analogous art as follows:

The question in design cases is not whether the references sought to be combined are in analogous arts in the mechanical sense, but whether they are so related that the appearance of certain ornamental features in one would suggest the application of those features to the other.

Thus, if the problem is merely one of giving an attractive appearance to a surface, it is immaterial whether the surface in question is that of wall paper, an oven door, or a piece of crockery. . . .

On the other hand, when the proposed combination of references involves material modifications of the basic form of one article in view of another, the nature of the article involved is a definite factor in determining whether the proposed change involves [patentable] invention.

Therefore, where the differences between the claimed design and the prior art are limited to the application of ornamentation to the surface of an article, any prior art reference which discloses substantially the same surface ornamentation would be considered analogous art. Where the differences are in the shape or form of the article, the nature of the articles involved must also be considered.

B.   Differences Between the Prior Art and the Claimed Design

In determining patentability under 35 U.S.C. 103(a), it is the overall appearance of the design that must be considered. In re Leslie, 547 F.2d 116, 192 USPQ 427 (CCPA 1977). The mere fact that there are differences between a design and the prior art is not alone sufficient to justify patentability. In re Lamb, 286 F.2d 610, 128 USPQ 539 (CCPA 1961).

All differences between the claimed design and the closest prior art reference should be identified in any rejection of the design claim under 35 U.S.C. 103(a). If any differences are considered de minimis or inconsequential from a design viewpoint, the rejection should so state.

C.   Level of Ordinary Skill in the Art

In order to be unpatentable, 35 U.S.C. 103(a) requires that an invention must have been obvious to a designer having “ordinary skill in the art” to which the subject matter sought to be patented pertains. The “level of ordinary skill in the art” from which obviousness of a design claim must be evaluated under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) has been held by the courts to be the perspective of the “designer of . . . articles of the types presented.” In re Nalbandian, 661 F.2d 1214, 1216, 211 USPQ 782, 784 (CCPA 1981); In re Carter, 673 F.2d 1378, 213 USPQ 625 (CCPA 1982).

D.   Objective Evidence of Nonobviousness (Secondary Considerations)

Secondary considerations, such as commercial success and copying of the design by others, are relevant to the evaluation of obviousness of a design claim. Evidence of nonobviousness may be present at the time a prima facie case of obviousness is evaluated or it may be presented in rebuttal of a prior obviousness rejection.

II.   PRIMA FACIE OBVIOUSNESS

Once the factual inquiries mandated under Graham v. John DeereCo., 383 U. S. 1, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), have been made, the examiner must determine whether they support a conclusion of prima facie obviousness. To establish prima facie obviousness, all the claim limitations must be taught or suggested by the prior art.

In determining prima facie obviousness, the proper standard is whether the design would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill with the claimed type of article. In re Nalbandian, 661 F.2d 1214, 211 USPQ 782 (CCPA 1981).

As a whole, a design must be compared with something in existence, and not something brought into existence by selecting and combining features from prior art references. In re Jennings, 182 F.2d 207, 86 USPQ 68 (CCPA 1950). The “something in existence” referred to in Jennings has been defined as “...a reference... the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design....” In re Rosen, 673 F.2d 388, 391, 213 USPQ 347, 350 (CCPA 1982) (the primary reference did “...not give the same visual impression...” as the design claimed but had a “...different overall appearance and aesthetic appeal...”.) Hence, it is clear that “design characteristics” means overall visual appearance. This definition of “design characteristics” is reinforced in the decision of In re Harvey, 12 F.3d 1061, 1063, 29 USPQ2d 1206, 1208 (Fed. Cir. 1993), and is supported by the earlier decisions of In re Yardley, 493 F.2d 1389, 181 USPQ 331, 334 (CCPA 1974) and In re Leslie, 547 F.2d 116, 192 USPQ 427, 431 (CCPA 1977). Specifically, in the Yardley decision, it was stated that “[t]he basic consideration in determining the patentability of designs over prior art is similarity of appearance.” 493 F.2d at 1392-93, 181 USPQ at 334. Therefore, in order to support a holding of obviousness, a primary reference must be more than a design concept; it must have an appearance substantially the same as the claimed design. In re Harvey, 12 F.3d 1061, 29 USPQ2d 1206 (Fed. Cir. 1993). Absent such a reference, no holding of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) can be made, whether based on a single reference alone or in view of modifications suggested by secondary prior art.

A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based on a single non-analogous reference would not be proper. The reason is that under 35 U.S.C. 103(a), a designer of ordinary skill would not be charged with knowledge of prior art that is not analogous to the claimed design.

Examiners are advised that differences between the claimed design and a primary reference may be held to be minor in nature and unrelated to the overall aesthetic appearance of the design with or without the support of secondary references. In re Nalbandian, 661 F.2d 1214, 211 USPQ 782 (CCPA 1981). If such differences are shown by secondary references, they should be applied so as to leave no doubt that those differences would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art. In re Sapp, 324 F.2d 1021, 139 USPQ 522 (CCPA 1963).

When a claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over prior art, features of the design which are functional and/or hidden during end use may not be relied upon to support patentability. “[A] design claim to be patentable must also be ornamental; and functional features or forms cannot be relied upon to support its patentability.” Jones v. Progress, Ind. Inc., 119 USPQ 92, 93 (D. R.I. 1958). “It is well settled that patentability of a design cannot be based on elements which are concealed in the normal use of the device to which the design is applied.” In re Cornwall, 230 F.2d 457, 459, 109 USPQ 57, 58 (CCPA 1956); In re Garbo, 287 F.2d 192, 129 USPQ 72 (CCPA 1961). It is not necessary that prior art be relied upon in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) to show similar features to be functional and/or hidden in the art. However, examiners must provide evidence to support the prima facie functionality of such features. Furthermore, hidden portions or functional features cannot be relied upon as a basis for patentability. If applicant wishes to rely on functional or hidden features as a basis for patentability, then the same standard for establishing ornamentality under 35 U.S.C. 171 must be applied before these features can be given any patentable weight. See MPEP § 1504.01(c).

A.   Combining Prior Art References

A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) would be appropriate if a designer of ordinary skill would have been motivated to modify a primary reference by deleting features thereof or by interchanging with or adding features from pertinent secondary references. In order for secondary references to be considered, there must be some suggestion in the prior art to modify the basic design with features from the secondary references. In re Borden, 90 F.3d 1570, 1572, 39 USPQ2d 1524, 1526 (Fed. Cir. 1996). The long-standing test for properly combining references has been “...whether they are so related that the appearance of certain ornamental features in one would suggest the application of those features to the other.” In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 450, 109 USPQ 50, 52 (CCPA 1956).

The prohibition against destroying the function of the design is inherent in the logic behind combining references to render a claimed invention obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103(a). If the proposed combination of the references so alters the primary reference that its broad function can no longer be carried out, the combination of the prior art would not have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art. It is permissible to modify the primary reference to the extent that the specific function of the article may be affected while the broad function is not affected. For example, a primary reference to a cabinet design claimed as airtight could be modified to no longer be airtight so long as its function as a cabinet would not be impaired.

1.   Analogous Art

When a modification to a primary reference involves a change in configuration, both the primary and secondary references must be from analogous arts. In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 109 USPQ 50 (CCPA 1956).

Analogous art can be more broadly interpreted when applied to a claim that is directed to a design with a portion simulating a well known or naturally occurring object or person. The simulative nature of that portion of the design is prima facie evidence that art which simulates that portion would be within the level of ordinary skill under 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

2.   Non-analogous Art

When modifying the surface of a primary reference so as to provide it with an attractive appearance, it is immaterial whether the secondary reference is analogous art, since the modification does not involve a change in configuration or structure and would not have destroyed the characteristics (appearance and function) of the primary reference. In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 109 USPQ 50 (CCPA 1956).

III.   REBUTTAL OF THE PRIMAFACIE CASE

Once a prima facie case of obviousness has been established, the burden shifts to the applicant to rebut it, if possible, with objective evidence of nonobviousness. Examples of secondary considerations are commercial success, expert testimony and copying of the design by others. Any objective evidence of nonobviousness or rebuttal evidence submitted by applicant, including affidavits or declarations under 37 CFR 1.132, must be considered by examiners in determining patentability under 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

When evidence of commercial success is submitted, examiners must evaluate it to determine whether there is objective evidence of success, and whether the success can be attributed to the ornamental design. Litton System, Inc. v. Whirlpool Corp., 728 F.2d 1423, 221 USPQ 97 (Fed. Cir. 1984); In re Nalbandian, 661 F.2d 1214, 211 USPQ 782 (CCPA 1981). An affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 has minimal evidentiary value on the issue of commercial success if there is no nexus or connection between the sales of the article in which the design is embodied and the ornamental features of the design. Avia Group Int’l Inc. v. L.A. Gear, 853 F.2d 1557, 7 USPQ2d 1548 (Fed. Cir. 1988).

Submission of expert testimony must establish the professional credentials of the person signing the affidavit or declaration, and should not express an opinion on the ultimate legal issue of obviousness since this conclusion is one of law. Avia Group Int’l Inc. v. L.A. Gear, 853 F.2d 1557, 7 USPQ2d 1548 (Fed. Cir. 1988); Panduit Corp. v. Dennison Mfg. Co., 774 F.2d 1082, 227 USPQ 337 (Fed. Cir. 1985).

With regard to evidence submitted showing that competitors in the marketplace are copying the design, more than the mere fact of copying is necessary to make that action significant because copying may be attributable to other factors such as lack of concern for patent property or indifference with regard to the patentee’s ability to enforce the patent. Cable Electric Products, Inc. v. Genmark, Inc., 770 F.2d 1015, 226 USPQ 881 (Fed. Cir. 1985).

“A prima facie case of obviousness can be rebutted if the applicant...can show that the art in any material respect ‘taught away’ from the claimed invention...A reference may be said to teach away when a person of ordinary skill, upon reading the reference...would be led in a direction divergent from the path that was taken by the applicant.” In re Haruna, 249 F.3d 1327, 58USPQ2d 1517 (Fed. Cir. 2001).

For additional information regarding the issue of objective evidence of nonobviousness, attention is directed to MPEP § 716 through § 716.06.

The following form paragraph may be used in an obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a), where appropriate.

¶ 15.18.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Rejection (Single Reference)

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over [1]. Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert the reference citation.
  • 2. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.18.aia    35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection (Single Reference)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable over [1]. Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains, the invention is not patentable.

Examiner Note:

For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.

¶ 15.70.fti    Preface, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Rejection

It would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made to [1].

Examiner Note:

Insert explanation of the use of the reference applied in bracket 1.

¶ 15.70.aia    Preface, 35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection

It would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill not later than the effective filing date of the present claimed invention to [1].

Examiner Note:

Insert explanation of the use of the reference applied in bracket 1.

¶ 15.67    Rationale for 35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection (Single Reference)

It is well settled that it is unobviousness in the overall appearance of the claimed design, when compared with the prior art, rather than minute details or small variations in design as appears to be the case here, that constitutes the test of design patentability. See In re Frick, 275 F.2d 741, 125 USPQ 191 (CCPA 1960) and In re Lamb, 286 F.2d 610, 128 USPQ 539 (CCPA 1961).

¶ 15.19.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Rejection (Multiple References)

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over [1] in view of [2].

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a designer of ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

Examiner Note:

For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.aia    35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection (Multiple Reference)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable over [1] in view of [2].

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains, the invention is not patentable.

Examiner Note:

For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.

¶ 15.68    Rationale for 35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection (Multiple References)

This modification of the primary reference in light of the secondary reference is proper because the applied references are so related that the appearance of features shown in one would suggest the application of those features to the other. See In re Rosen, 673 F.2d 388, 213 USPQ 347 (CCPA 1982); In re Carter, 673 F.2d 1378, 213 USPQ 625 (CCPA 1982), and In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 109 USPQ 50 (CCPA 1956). Further, it is noted that case law has held that a designer skilled in the art is charged with knowledge of the related art; therefore, the combination of old elements, herein, would have been well within the level of ordinary skill. See In re Antle, 444 F.2d 1168,170 USPQ 285 (CCPA 1971) and In re Nalbandian, 661 F.2d 1214, 211 USPQ 782 (CCPA 1981).

The following form paragraphs may be used when making a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) (pre-AIA) , where the reference application or patent is prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (pre-AIA) .

¶ 15.19.02.fti    Preface pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103(a) rejection - Different inventors, common assignee, obvious designs, no evidence of common ownership at time later design was made

The claim is directed to a design not patentably distinct from the design of commonly assigned [1]. Specifically, the claimed design is different from the one in [2] in that [3]. These differences are considered obvious and do not patentably distinguish the overall appearance of the claimed design over the design in [4].

The commonly assigned [5], discussed above, has a different inventive entity from the present application. Therefore, it qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) or (g) and forms the basis for a rejection of the claim in the present application under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) if the conflicting design claims were not commonly owned at the time the design in this application was made. In order to resolve this issue, the applicant, assignee or attorney of record can state that the conflicting designs were commonly owned at the time the design in this application was made, or the assignee can name the prior inventor of the conflicting subject matter.

A showing that the designs were commonly owned at the time the design in this application was made will overcome a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based upon the commonly assigned case as a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or 35 U.S.C. 102(g), or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) for applications filed on or after November 29, 1999.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the application being examined is commonly assigned with a conflicting application or patent, but there is no indication that they were commonly assigned at the time the invention was actually made.
  • 2. If the conflicting claim is in a patent with an earlier U.S. filing date, a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/35 U.S.C. 103(a) should be made.
  • 3. If the conflicting claim is in a commonly assigned, copending application with an earlier filing date, a provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/35 U.S.C. 103(a) should be made.
  • 4. An obviousness double patenting rejection may also be included in the action.
  • 5. In brackets 1, 2, 4 and 5, insert patent and number, or copending application and serial number.
  • 6. In bracket 3, identify differences between design claimed in present application and that claimed in earlier filed patent or copending application.
  • 7. This form paragraph should only be used ONCE in an Office action.
  • 8. If the rejection relies upon prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), use 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventor’s Protection Act (AIPA) to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. Use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has international filing date prior to November 29, 2000 or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 , 121, or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the applicable 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 9. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.03.fti    Provisional Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103(a) rejection - design disclosed but not claimed in another application with common inventor and/or assignee

The claim is provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over copending Application No. [1] which has a common [2] with the instant application. Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the conflicting application.

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[3]

Since the design claimed in the present application is not the same invention claimed in the [4] application, this provisional rejection may be overcome by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the design in the reference was derived from the designer of this application and is thus not the invention “by another,” or by a showing of a date of invention for the instant application prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the reference under 37 CFR 1.131(a). For applications filed on or after November 29, 1999, this rejection might also be overcome by showing that the subject matter of the reference and the claimed invention were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is obvious over subject matter disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design or utility application but is not claimed therein. The design claimed in the application being examined can be an obvious version of subject matter disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design application. This subject matter may be depicted in broken lines, or may be in the form of a subcombination (part or portion of an article) that is patentably distinct from the claim for the design embodied by the combination or whole article.
  • 2. In brackets 1 and 4 insert serial number of copending application.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert inventor or assignee.
  • 4. In bracket 3, provide explanation of obviousness including differences and follow the explanation with form paragraphs 15.70.fti and 15.67.fti or 15.68.fti.
  • 5. Use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventor’s Protection Act (AIPA) to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. Use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102 only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000 or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 , 121, or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 6. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.03.aia    35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)/103 Provisional Rejection - design disclosed in another application with common inventor and/or assignee

The claim is provisionally rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being obvious over copending Application No. [1] which has a common [2] with the instant application. Because the copending application names another inventor and has an earlier effective filing date, it would constitute prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented. This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the conflicting application.

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[3]

This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the design in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 that antedates the reference by filing a certified priority document in the application that satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (3) perfecting the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78 and establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (4) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (5) providing a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C)that the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is obvious over subject matter disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design or utility application. The design claimed in the application being examined can be an obvious version of subject matter disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design application. This subject matter may be depicted in broken lines, or may be in the form of a subcombination (part or portion of an article) that is patentably distinct from the claim for the design embodied by the combination or whole article.
  • 2. In brackets 1 and 4 insert serial number of copending application.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert inventor or assignee.
  • 4. In bracket 3, provide explanation of obviousness including differences.
  • 5. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.04.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103(a) Provisional Rejection - design claimed in an earlier filed design patent application with common inventor and/or assignee

The claim is provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over the claim in copending Design Patent Application No. [1] which has a common [2] with the instant application. Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) if patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) is based upon a presumption of future patenting of the conflicting application.

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[3]

Since the design claimed in the present application is not patentably distinct from the design claimed in the [4] application, this provisional rejection may be overcome by merging the two applications into a single continuation-in-part and abandoning the separate parent applications. For applications filed on or after November 29, 1999, this rejection might also be overcome by showing that the subject matter of the reference and the claimed invention were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is obvious over the design claimed in an earlier filed copending application.
  • 2. A provisional obviousness-type double patenting rejection must also be included in the action.
  • 3. In brackets 1 and 4, insert serial number of copending application.
  • 4. In bracket 2, insert inventor or assignee.
  • 5. In bracket 3, provide explanation of obviousness including differences and follow the explanation with form paragraphs 15.70.fti and 15.67.fti or 15.68.fti.
  • 6. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.19.02.fti.
  • 7. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.05.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103(a) rejection - design disclosed but not claimed

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over [1].

Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[2]

Since the design claimed in the present application is not the same invention claimed in the [3] patent, this rejection may be overcome by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the design in the reference was derived from the designer of this application and is thus not the invention “ by another,” or by a showing of a date of invention for the instant application prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the reference under 37 CFR 1.131(a). For applications filed on or after November 29, 1999, this rejection might also be overcome by showing that the subject matter of the reference and the claimed invention were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is obvious over subject matter disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design or utility patent, or application publication, but is not claimed therein. The design claimed in the application being examined can be an obvious version of subject matter disclosed in the drawings of an earlier filed design application. This subject matter may be depicted in broken lines, or may be in the form of a subcombination (part or portion of an article) that is patentably distinct from the claim for the design embodied by the combination or whole article.
  • 2. In brackets 1 and 3, insert number of the U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or the WIPO publication of an international application that qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). See note 4 below.
  • 3. In bracket 2, provide explanation of obviousness including differences and follow the explanation with form paragraphs 15.70.fti and 15.67.fti or 15.68.fti.
  • 4. Use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventor’s Protection Act (AIPA) to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. Use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000 or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102 (e) date.
  • 5. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.05.aia    35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)/103 rejection - design disclosed, no common inventors or common assignees

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being obvious over [1].

Because the upon the reference names another inventor and has an earlier effective filing date, it constitutes prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2).

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[2]

This rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)/103 might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the copending application was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 that antedates the reference by filing a certified priority document in the application that satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); (3) perfecting the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78 and establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or (4) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert document number that qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2).
  • 2. In bracket 2, provide explanation of obviousness including differences.
  • 3. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 15.10.aia and 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.06.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103(a) rejection - design claimed in a design patent with an earlier effective filing date and common assignee

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over the claim in design patent [1].

Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[2]

Since the design claimed in the present application is not patentably distinct from the design claimed in the [3] patent, this rejection may be overcome by submitting an oath or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(c) stating that this application and the reference are currently owned by the same party and that the inventor named in this application is the prior inventor of the subject matter in the reference under 35 U.S.C. 104 as in effect on March 15, 2013. In addition, a terminal disclaimer in accordance with 37 CFR 1.321(c) is also required. For applications filed on or after November 29, 1999, this rejection might also be overcome by showing that the subject matter of the reference and the claimed invention were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2)

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is obvious over the design claimed in a design patent having an earlier effective date and a common assignee.
  • 2. An obviousness-type double patenting rejection must also be included in the action.
  • 3. In brackets 1 and 3, insert number of patent.
  • 4. In bracket 2, provide explanation of obviousness including differences and follow the explanation by form paragraphs 15.70.fti and 15.67.fti or 15.68.fti.
  • 5. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.19.02.fti.
  • 6. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

¶ 15.19.07.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103(a) rejection - design claimed in a design patent having an earlier effective filing date and no common assignee

The claim is rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over the claim in design patent [1].

Based upon the different inventive entity and the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

Although the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a designer having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains, the invention is not patentable.

[2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when the claimed design in the application being examined is obvious over the design claimed in a design patent having an earlier effective filing date.
  • 2. In bracket 2, provide explanation of obviousness including differences and follow explanation with form paragraphs 15.70.fti and 15.67.fti or 15.68.fti.
  • 3. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.10.15.

The following form paragraphs may be used in a second or subsequent action where appropriate.

¶ 15.38    Rejection Maintained

The arguments presented have been carefully considered, but are not persuasive that the rejection of the claim under [1] should be withdrawn.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert basis of rejection.

¶ 15.39.fti    Obviousness Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Repeated

It remains the examiner’s position that the [1] design claimed is obvious under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) over [2].

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert name of design.

¶ 15.39.aia    Obviousness Under 35 U.S.C. 103 Repeated

It remains the examiner’s position that the [1] design claimed would have been obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103 over [2].

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert name of design.

¶ 15.39.01.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Rejection Repeated (Multiple References)

It remains the examiner’s position that the claim would have been obvious under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) over [1] in view of [2].

¶ 15.39.01.aia    35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection Repeated (Multiple References)

It remains the examiner’s position that the claim would have been obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103 over [1] in view of [2].

¶ 15.39.02.fti    Final Rejection Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) (Single Reference)

The claim is again and FINALLY REJECTED under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) over [1].

Examiner Note:

See form paragraphs in MPEP Chapter 700, for “Action is Final” and “Advisory after Final” paragraphs.

¶ 15.39.02.aia    Final Rejection Under 35 U.S.C. 103 (Single Reference)

The claim is again and FINALLY REJECTED under 35 U.S.C. 103 over [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert reference citation.
  • 2. See form paragraphs in MPEP Chapter 700, for “Action is Final” and “Advisory after Final” paragraphs.

¶ 15.40.fti    Final Rejection Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) (Multiple References)

The claim is again and FINALLY REJECTED under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over [1] in view of [2].

Examiner Note:

See form paragraphs in MPEP Chapter 700 for “Action is Final” and “Advisory after Final” paragraphs.

¶ 15.40.aia    Final Rejection Under 35 U.S.C. 103 (Multiple References)

The claim is again and FINALLY REJECTED under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable over [1] in view of [2].

Examiner Note:

See form paragraphs in MPEP Chapter 700 for “Action is Final” and “Advisory after Final” paragraphs.

1504.04   Considerations Under 35 U.S.C. 112 [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 112  Specification.

(a) IN GENERAL.—The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor or joint inventor of carrying out the invention.

(b) CONCLUSION.—The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor regards as the invention.

*****

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112   Specification (for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012).

The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention.

The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as his invention.

*****

The drawing in a design application is incorporated into the claim by use of the claim language “as shown.”

Additionally, the drawing disclosure can be supplemented by narrative description in the specification (see MPEP § 1503.01, subsection II). This description is incorporated into the claim by use of the language “as shown and described.” See MPEP § 1503.01, subsection III.

I.   35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b)

  Enablement and Scope of Protection

Any analysis for compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112 should begin with a determination of the scope of protection sought by the claims. See In re Moore, 439 F.2d 1232, 169 USPQ 236 (CCPA 1971). Therefore, before any determination can be made as to whether the disclosure meets the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph), for enablement, a determination of whether the claims meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112 second paragraph) must be made. However, since the drawing disclosure and any narrative description in the specification are incorporated into the claim by the use of the language “as shown and described,” any determination of the scope of protection sought by the claim is also a determination of the subject matter that must be enabled by the disclosure. Hence, if the appearance and shape or configuration of the design for which protection is sought cannot be determined or understood due to an inadequate visual disclosure, then the claim, which incorporates the visual disclosure, fails to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter the inventor(s) regard as their invention, in violation of the second paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph). Furthermore, such disclosure fails to enable a designer of ordinary skill in the art to make an article having the shape and appearance of the design for which protection is sought. In such case, a rejection of the claim under both 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the first and second paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. 112) would be warranted. An evaluation of the scope of the claim under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph), to determine whether the disclosure of the design meets the enablement requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, cannot be based on the drawings alone. The scope of a claimed design is understood to be limited to those surfaces or portions of the article shown in the drawing in full lines in combination with any additional written description in the specification. The title does not define the scope of the claimed design but merely identifies the article in which it is embodied. See MPEP § 1503.01, subsection I. It is assumed that the claim has been crafted to protect that which the applicant “regards as his invention.” In re Zahn, 617 F.2d 261, 204 USPQ 988 (CCPA 1980). Therefore, when visible portions of the article embodying the design are not shown, it is because they form no part of the claim to be protected. It is prima facie evidence that the scope of the claimed design is limited to those surfaces “as shown” in the application drawing(s) in the absence of any additional written disclosure. See MPEP § 1503.01, subsection II. “[T]he adequacy of the disclosure must be determined by reference to the scope asserted.” Philco Corp. v. Admiral Corp., 199 F. Supp. 797, 131 USPQ 413, 418 (D. Del. 1961). However, it should be understood that when a surface or portion of an article is disclosed in full lines in the drawing it is considered part of the claimed design and its shape and appearance must be clearly and accurately depicted in order to satisfy the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the first and second paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. 112).

Only those surfaces of the article that are visible at the point of sale or during use must be disclosed to meet the requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs). “The drawing should illustrate the design as it will appear to purchasers and users, since the appearance is the only thing that lends patentability to it under the design law.” Ex parte Kohler, 1905 C.D. 192, 192, 116 O.G. 1185, 1185 (Comm’r Pat. 1905). The lack of disclosure of those surfaces of the article which are hidden during sale or use does not violate the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the first and second paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. 112) because the “patented ornamental design has no use other than its visual appearance....” In re Harvey, 12 F.3d 1061, 1064, 29 USPQ2d 1206, 1208 (Fed. Cir. 1993). Therefore, to make the “visual appearance” of the design merely involves the reproduction of what is shown in the drawings; it is not necessary that the functionality of the article be reproduced as this is not claimed. The function of a design is “that its appearance adds attractiveness, and hence commercial value, to the article embodying it.” Ex parte Cady, 1916 C.D. 57, 61, 232 O.G. 619, 621 (Comm’r Pat. 1916).

The undisclosed surfaces not seen during sale or use are not required to be described in the specification even though the title of the design is directed to the complete article because the design is embodied only in those surfaces which are visible. Ex parte Salsbury, 38 USPQ 149, 1938 C.D. 6 (Comm’r Pat. 1938). While it is not necessary to show in the drawing those visible surfaces that are flat and devoid of surface ornamentation, they should be described in the specification by way of a descriptive statement if they are considered part of the claimed design. Ex parte Salsbury, 38 USPQ 149, 1938 C.D. 6 (Comm’r Pat. 1938). Such descriptive statement may not be used to describe visible surfaces which include structure that is clearly not flat. Philco Corp. v. Admiral Corp., 199 F. Supp. 797, 131 USPQ 413 (D. Del. 1961). See also MPEP § 1503.02.

Applications filed in which the title (in the claim) defines an entire article but the drawings and the specification fail to disclose portions or surfaces of the article that would be visible either during use or on sale, will not be considered to violate the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the first and second paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. 112). Therefore, amendment to the title will not be required in such applications. However, examiners should include a statement in the first Office action on the merits (including a notice of allowability) indicating that the surface(s) or portion(s) of the article that would be normally visible but are not shown in the drawing or described in the specification are understood to form no part of the claimed design and therefore, the determination of patentability of the claimed design is based on the views of the article shown in the drawing and the description in the specification. Form paragraph 15.85 may be used for this purpose.

When a claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs), as nonenabling and indefinite due to an insufficient drawing disclosure, examiners must specifically identify in the Office action what the deficiencies are in the drawing. A mere statement that the claim is nonenabling and indefinite due to the poor quality of the drawing is not a sufficient explanation of the deficiencies in the drawing disclosure. Examiners must specifically point out those portions of the drawing that are insufficient to permit an understanding of the shape and appearance of the design claimed, and, if possible, suggest how the rejection may be overcome. Form paragraphs 15.21 and 15.20.02 may be used.

When inconsistencies between the views of the drawings are so great that the overall appearance of the design is unclear, the claim should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs), as nonenabling and indefinite, and the rejection should specifically identify all of the inconsistencies between the views of the drawing. Otherwise, inconsistencies between drawing views will be objected to by the examiner and correction required by the applicant. See MPEP § 1503.02.

If the visual disclosure of the claimed design as originally filed is of such poor quality that its overall shape and appearance cannot be understood, applicant should be advised that the claim might be fatally defective by using form paragraph 15.65.

As indicated above, a narrative description in the specification can supplement the drawing disclosure to define the scope of protection sought by the claim. Furthermore, such description is incorporated into the claim by the use of the language “and described” therein. However, if a description in the specification refers to embodiments or modified forms not shown in the drawing, or includes vague and nondescriptive words such as “variations” and “equivalents,” or a statement indicating that the claimed design is not limited to the exact shape and appearance shown in the drawing, the claim should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs), as nonenabling and indefinite. The reason being the description fails to enable a designer of ordinary skill in the art to make an article having the shape and appearance of those other embodiments, modified forms or “variations” and “equivalents” referred to in the description in the absence of additional drawing views. Furthermore, in the absence of additional drawing views, the description, which is incorporated into the claim, fails to particularly point out and distinctly claim the shape and appearance of those other embodiments, modified forms or “variations” and “equivalents” that applicants regard as their invention. Form paragraph 15.21 may be used to reject a claim for the above reasons.

¶ 15.85    Undisclosed visible surface(s)/portion(s) of article not forming part of the claimed design

The [1] of the article [2] not shown in the drawing or described in the specification. It is understood that the appearance of any part of the article not shown in the drawing or described in the specification forms no part of the claimed design. In re Zahn, 617 F.2d 261, 204 USPQ 988 (CCPA 1980). Therefore, the determination of patentability is based on the design for the article shown and described.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert surface or surfaces which are not shown.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert “is” or “are”.

¶ 15.21    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, First And Second Paragraphs

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs, as the claimed invention is not described in such full, clear, concise and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the same, and fails to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which applicant regards as the invention.

The claim is indefinite and nonenabling [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should not be used when it is appropriate to make one or more separate rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and/or (b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first and/or second paragraph(s).
  • 2. In bracket 1, a complete explanation of the basis for the rejection should be provided.

¶ 15.20.02    Suggestion To Overcome Rejection Under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, First and Second Paragraphs

It is suggested that applicant may submit large, clear informal drawings or photographs which show [1] in order that the examiner may be in a position to determine if the claim may be clarified without the addition of new matter (35 U.S.C. 132, 37 CFR 1.121). In the alternative, applicant may disclaim the areas or portions of the design which are considered indefinite and nonenabling by converting them to broken lines and amend the specification to include a statement that the portions of the [2] shown in broken lines form no part of the claimed design.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the areas or portions of the design which are unclear.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert title of the article.

¶ 15.65    Amendment May Not Be Possible

The claim might be fatally defective; that is, it might not be possible to [1] without introducing new matter (35 U.S.C. 132, 37 CFR 1.121).

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, identify portion of the claimed design which is insufficiently disclosed.

¶ 15.73    Corrected Drawing Sheets Required

Failure to submit replacement correction sheets overcoming all of the deficiencies in the drawing disclosure set forth above, or an explanation why the drawing corrections or additional drawing views are not necessary will result in the rejection of the claim under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs, being made FINAL in the next Office action.

  New Matter

New matter is subject matter which has no antecedent basis in the original specification, drawings or claim (MPEP § 608.04). An amendment to the claim must have antecedent basis in the original disclosure. 35 U.S.C. 132; 37 CFR 1.121(f). Prior to final action, all amendments will be entered in the application and will be considered by the examiner. Ex parte Hanback, 231 USPQ 739 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1986). An amendment to the claim which has no antecedent basis in the specification and/or drawings as originally filed introduces new matter because that subject matter is not described in the application as originally filed. The claim must be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications field prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph). An amendment to the disclosure not affecting the claim (such as environment in the title or in broken lines in the drawings), which has no antecedent basis in the application as originally filed, must be objected to under 35 U.S.C. 132 as lacking support in the application as originally filed and a requirement must be made to cancel the new matter.

The scope of a design claim is defined by what is shown in full lines in the application drawings. In re Mann, 861 F.2d 1581, 8 USPQ2d 2030 (Fed. Cir. 1988). The claim may be amended by broadening or narrowing its scope within the bounds of the disclosure as originally filed.

A change in the configuration of the claimed design is considered a departure from the original disclosure and introduces prohibited new matter (37 CFR 1.121(f)). See In re Salmon, 705 F.2d 1579, 217 USPQ 981 (Fed. Cir. 1983). This includes the removal of three-dimensional surface treatment that is an integral part of the configuration of the claimed design, for example, beading, grooves, and ribs. The underlying configuration revealed by such an amendment would not be apparent in the application as filed and, therefore, it could not be established that applicant was in possession of this amended configuration at the time the application was filed. However, an amendment that changes the scope of a design by either reducing certain portions of the drawing to broken lines or converting broken line structure to solid lines is not a change in configuration as defined by the court in Salmon. The reason for this is because applicant was in possession of everything disclosed in the drawing at the time the application was filed and the mere reduction of certain portions to broken lines or conversion of broken line structure to solid lines is not a departure from the original disclosure. Examiners are cautioned that if broken line structure is converted to solid lines by way of amendment, the shape and configuration of that structure must have been fully disclosed and enabling at the time the application was filed. An amendment which alters the appearance of the claimed design by removing two-dimensional, superimposed surface treatment may be permitted if it is clear from the application that applicant had possession of the underlying configuration of the design without the surface treatment at the time of filing of the application. See In re Daniels, 144 F.3d 1452, 1456-57, 46 USPQ2d 1788, 1790 (Fed. Cir. 1998).

Amendments to the title must have antecedent basis in the original application to be permissible. If an amendment to the title directed to the article in which the design is embodied has no antecedent basis in the original application, the claim will be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph), as failing to comply with the written description requirement thereof. Ex parte Strijland, 26 USPQ2d 1259 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1992). If an amendment to the title directed to the environment in which the design is used has no antecedent basis in the original application, it will be objected to under 35 U.S.C. 132 as introducing new matter into the disclosure. See MPEP § 1503.01, subsection I.

Examples of permissible amendments filed with the original application include: (A) a preliminary amendment filed simultaneously with the application papers, that is specifically identified in the original oath/declaration as required by 37 CFR 1.63 and MPEP § 608.04(b); and (B) the inclusion of a disclaimer in the original specification or on the drawings/photographs as filed. See 37 CFR 1.152 and MPEP § 1503.01 and § 1503.02.

An example of a permissible amendment submitted after the filing of the application would be an amendment that does not involve a departure from the configuration of the original disclosure (37 CFR 1.121(f)).

An example of an impermissible amendment which introduces new matter would be an amendment to the claim without antecedent basis in the original disclosure which would change the configuration or surface appearance of the original design by the addition of previously undisclosed subject matter. In re Berkman, 642 F.2d 427, 209 USPQ 45 (CCPA 1981).

When an amendment affecting the claim is submitted that introduces new matter into the drawing, specification or title and a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) , (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph) is made, the examiner should specifically identify in the Office action the subject matter which is not considered to be supported by the original disclosure. A statement by the examiner that merely generalizes that the amended drawing, specification or title contains new matter is not sufficient. Examiners should specifically identify the differences or changes made to the claimed design that are considered to introduce new matter into the original disclosure, and if possible, suggest how the amended drawing, specification or title can be corrected to overcome the rejection. Form paragraph 15.51 may be used.

If an amendment that introduces new matter into the claim is the result of a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and (b), (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first and second paragraphs) for lack of enablement and indefiniteness, and it is clear that the disclosure of the claimed design as originally filed cannot be corrected without the introduction of new matter, the record of the application should reflect that the claim is seen to be fatally defective. Form paragraph 15.65 may be used to set forth this position.

¶ 15.51    35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, First Paragraph Rejection (New Matter)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph as failing to comply with the description requirement thereof since the [1] introduces new matter not supported by the original disclosure. The original disclosure does not reasonably convey to a designer of ordinary skill in the art that applicant was in possession of the design now claimed at the time the application was filed. See In re Daniels, 144 F.3d 1452, 46 USPQ2d 1788 (Fed. Cir. 1998); In re Rasmussen, 650 F.2d 1212, 211 USPQ 323 (CCPA 1981).

Specifically, there is no support in the original disclosure [2].

To overcome this rejection, applicant may attempt to demonstrate that the original disclosure establishes that he or she was in possession of the amended claim or [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, specify whether new drawing or amendment to the drawing, title or specification.
  • 2. In bracket 2, specifically identify what is new matter so that the basis for the rejection is clear.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert specific suggestion how rejection may be overcome depending on the basis; such as, “the bracket in figures 3 and 4 of the new drawing may be corrected to correspond to the original drawing” or “the specification may be amended by deleting the descriptive statement.”

¶ 15.65    Amendment May Not Be Possible

The claim might be fatally defective; that is, it might not be possible to [1] without introducing new matter (35 U.S.C. 132, 37 CFR 1.121).

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, identify portion of the claimed design which is insufficiently disclosed.

¶ 15.51.01    Amendment to Disclosure Not Affecting Claim - 35 U.S.C. 132 Objection (New Matter)

The [1] is objected to under 35 U.S.C. 132 and 37 CFR 1.121 as introducing new matter not supported by the original disclosure. The original disclosure does not reasonably convey to a designer of ordinary skill in the art that applicant was in possession of the amended subject matter at the time the application was filed. See In re Rasmussen, 650 F.2d 1212, 211 USPQ 323 (CCPA 1981).

Specifically, there is no support in the original disclosure [2].

To overcome this objection, applicant may attempt to demonstrate that the original disclosure establishes that he or she was in possession of the amended subject matter or [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, specify whether new drawing or amendment to the drawing, title or specification.
  • 2. In bracket 2, specifically identify what is new matter so that the basis for the objection is clear.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert specific suggestion how the objection may be overcome depending on the basis; such as, “the broken line showing of environmental structure in Fig. 1 of the new drawing may be omitted to correspond to the original drawing” or “the title may be amended by deleting the reference to environmental structure”.

III.   35 U.S.C. 112, SECOND PARAGRAPH

Defects in claim language give rise to a rejection of the claim under the second paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the second paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112). The fact that claim language, including terms of degree, may not be precise, does not automatically render the claim indefinite under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph). “[T]he definiteness of the language employed must be analyzed – not in a vacuum, but always in light of the teachings of the prior art and of the particular application disclosure as it would be interpreted by one possessing the ordinary level of skill in the pertinent art.” In re Moore, 439 F.2d 1232, 1235, 169 USPQ 236, 238 (CCPA 1971). A claim may appear indefinite when read in a vacuum, but may be definite upon reviewing the application disclosure or prior art teachings. Moreover, an otherwise definite claim in a vacuum may be uncertain when reviewing the application disclosure and prior art. Moore, 439 F.2d at 1235 n.2, 169 USPQ at 238 n.2. See also MPEP § 2173.05(b) .

Use of phrases in the claim such as “or similar article,” “or the like,” or equivalent terminology has been held to be indefinite. See Ex parte Pappas, 23 USPQ2d 1636 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1992). However, the use of broadening language such as “or the like,” or “or similar article” in the title when directed to the environment of the article embodying the design should not be the basis for a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph). See   MPEP § 1503.01, subsection I.

Examiners are reminded that there is no per se rule, and that the definiteness of claim language must be evaluated on the facts and circumstances of each application. The following form paragraphs may be used.

¶ 15.22.02    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph (“Or the Like” In Claim)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being indefinite for failing to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which applicant regards as the invention. The claim is indefinite because of the use of the phrase “[1]” following the title. Cancellation of said phrase in the claim and each occurrence of the title throughout the papers, except the oath or declaration, will overcome the rejection. See Ex parte Pappas, 23 USPQ2d 1636 (Bd. App. & Inter. 1992) and 37 CFR 1.153.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection should be used where there is another rejection in the Office action. For issue with an examiner’s amendment, see form paragraph 15.69.01.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert --or the like-- or --or similar article--.
  • 3. This form paragraph should not be used when “or the like” or “or similar article” in the title is directed to the environment of the article embodying the design.

¶ 15.69.01    Remove Indefinite Language (“Or The Like”) by Examiner’s Amendment

The phrase [1] in the claim following the title renders the claim indefinite. By authorization of [2] in a telephone interview on [3], the phrase has been cancelled from the claim and at each occurrence of the title throughout the papers, except the oath or declaration 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, and 37 CFR 1.153). See Ex parte Pappas, 23 USPQ2d 1636 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1992).

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, insert objectionable phrase, e.g., --or the like--, --or similar article--, etc.

Rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph), should be made when the scope of protection sought by the claim cannot be determined from the disclosure. For instance, a drawing disclosure in which the boundaries between claimed (solid lines) and unclaimed (broken lines) portions of an article are not defined or cannot be understood may be enabling under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph), in that the shape and appearance of the article can be reproduced, but such disclosure fails to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter that applicant regards as the invention. Form paragraph 15.22 may be used.

¶ 15.22    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or (pre-AIA) 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being indefinite for failing to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which applicant regards as the invention.

The claim is indefinite [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this form paragraph when the scope of the claimed design cannot be determined.
  • 2. In bracket 1, provide a full explanation of the basis for the rejection.

The claim should be rejected as indefinite when it cannot be determined from the designation of the design as shown in the drawing, referenced in the title and described in the specification what article of manufacture is being claimed, e.g., a design claimed as a “widget” which does not identify a known or recognizable article of manufacture. The following form paragraphs may be used.

¶ 15.22.03    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Second Paragraph (Title Fails to Specify a Known Article of Manufacture)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as indefinite in that the title, as set forth in the claim, fails to identify an article of manufacture and the drawing disclosure does not inherently identify the article in which the design is embodied. Ex parte Strijland, 26 USPQ2d 1259, 1263 (Bd. Pat. App. & Int. 1992). Therefore, any attempt to clarify the title by specifying the article in which the design is embodied may introduce new matter. See 35 U.S.C. 132 and 37 CFR 1.121.

¶ 15.21.01    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, (Second Paragraph) (Additional Information Requested)

The claim is rejected for failing to particularly point out and distinctly claim the invention as required in 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph. The title of the article in which the design is embodied or applied is too ambiguous and therefore indefinite for the examiner to make a proper examination of the claim under 37 CFR 1.104.

Applicant is therefore required to provide a sufficient explanation of the nature and intended use of the article in which the claimed design is embodied or applied, so that a proper classification and reliable search can be made. See 37 CFR 1.154(b)(1) ; MPEP § 1503.01. Additional information, if available, regarding analogous fields of search, pertinent prior art, advertising brochures and the filing of copending utility applications would also prove helpful. If a utility application has been filed, please furnish its application number.

This information should be submitted in the form of a separate paper, and should not be inserted in the specification (37 CFR 1.56). See also 37 CFR 1.97, and 1.98.

Where the design claim would otherwise be patentable but for the presence of any rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and/or (b) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112), first and/or second paragraphs, form paragraph 15.58.01 may be used.

¶ 15.58.01    Claimed Design Is Patentable (35 U.S.C. 112 Rejections)

The claimed design is patentable over the references cited. However, a final determination of patentability will be made upon resolution of the above rejection.

Form paragraphs 15.38 and 15.40.01 may be used in a second or subsequent action, where appropriate (see MPEP § 1504.02).

1504.05   Restriction [R-11.2013]

General principles of utility restriction are set forth in Chapter 800 of the MPEP. These principles are also applicable to design restriction practice with the exception of those differences set forth in this section.

Unlike a utility patent application, which can contain plural claims directed to plural inventions, a design patent application may only have a single claim. More than one embodiment of a design may be protected by a single claim. However, such embodiments may be presented only if they involve a single inventive concept according to the obviousness-type double patenting practice for designs. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Therefore, the examiner will require restriction in each design application which contains more than one patentably distinct design.

Restriction will be required under 35 U.S.C. 121 if a design patent application claims multiple designs that are patentably distinct from each other . The issue of whether a search and examination of an entire application can be made without serious burden to an examiner (as noted in MPEP § 803) is to design applications when determining whether a restriction requirement should be made. Clear admission on the record by the applicant that the embodiments are not patentably distinct will not overcome a requirement for restriction if the embodiments do not meet the following two requirements: (A) the embodiments must have overall appearances with basically the same design characteristics; and (B) the differences between the embodiments must be insufficient to patentably distinguish one design from the other. Regarding the second requirement, without evidence, such an admission is merely a conclusionary statement. If multiple designs are held to be patentably indistinct and can be covered by a single claim, any rejection of one over prior art will apply equally to all. Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965).

I.   INDEPENDENT INVENTIONS

Design inventions are independent if there is no apparent relationship between two or more disparate articles disclosed in the drawings; for example, a pair of eyeglasses and a door handle; a bicycle and a camera; an automobile and a bathtub. Also note examples in MPEP § 806.06. Restriction in such cases is clearly proper. This situation may be rarely presented since design patent applications are seldom filed containing disclosures of independent articles.

II.   DISTINCT INVENTIONS

In determining patentable distinctness, the examiner must compare the overall appearances of the multiple designs. Each design must be considered as a whole, i.e., the elements of the design are not considered individually as they may be when establishing a prima facie case of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103(a). Designs are not distinct inventions if: (A) the multiple designs have overall appearances with basically the same design characteristics; and (B) the differences between the multiple designs are insufficient to patentably distinguish one design from the other. Differences may be considered patentably insufficient when they are de minimis or obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art. Therefore, in determining the question of patentable distinctness under 35 U.S.C. 121 in a design application, a search of the prior art may be necessary. Both of the above considerations are important. Differences between the designs may prove to be obvious in view of the prior art, but if the overall appearances are not basically the same, the designs remain patentably distinct. Embodiments claiming different scopes of the same design can be patentably distinct using the two-step analysis above. When an application illustrates a component, which is a subcombination of another embodiment, the subcombination often has a distinct overall appearance and a restriction should be required. When an application illustrates only a portion of the design, which is the subject of another embodiment, that portion often has a distinct overall appearance and a restriction should be required.

A.   Multiple Embodiments - Difference in Appearance

It is permissible to illustrate more than one embodiment of a design invention in a single application. However, such embodiments may be presented only if they involve a single inventive concept . Two designs involve a single inventive concept when the two designs are patentably indistinct according to the standard of obviousness-type double patenting. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct over one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967). The disclosure of plural embodiments does not require or justify more than a single claim, which claim must be in the formal terms stated in MPEP § 1503.01, subsection III. The specification should make clear that multiple embodiments are disclosed and should particularize the differences between the embodiments. If the disclosure of any embodiment relies on the disclosure of another embodiment for completeness to satisfy the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph), the differences between the embodiments must be identified either in the figure descriptions or by way of a descriptive statement in the specification of the application as filed. For example, the second embodiment of a cabinet discloses a single view showing only the difference in the front door of the cabinet of the first embodiment; the figure description should state that this view “is a second embodiment of Figure 1, the only difference being the configuration of the door, it being understood that all other surfaces are the same as those of the first embodiment.” This type of statement in the description is understood to incorporate the disclosure of the first embodiment to complete the disclosure of the second embodiment. However, in the absence of such a statement in the specification of an application as filed, the disclosure of one embodiment will normally not be permitted to provide antecedent basis for any written or visual amendment to the disclosure of other embodiments.

The obviousness standard under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) must be applied in determining whether multiple embodiments may be retained in a single application. See MPEP § 1504.03. That is, it must first be determined whether the embodiments have overall appearances that are basically the same as each other. If the appearances of the embodiments are considered to be basically the same, then it must be determined whether the differences are either minor between the embodiments and not a patentable distinction, or obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in view of the analogous prior art . If embodiments meet both of the above criteria they may be retained in a single application. If embodiments do not meet either one of the above criteria, restriction must be required. It should be noted, that if the embodiments do not have overall appearances that are basically the same, restriction must be required since their appearances are patentably distinct. In such case it doesn’t matter for restriction purposes, if the differences between the appearances of the embodiments are shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

Form paragraph 15.27.02 or 15.27.03, if appropriate, may be used to notify applicant that restriction is not required because the embodiments are not patentably distinct.

¶ 15.27.02    Restriction Not Required - Change In Appearance (First Action - Non Issue)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 - Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 - Figs. [2]

[3]

Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

The above identified embodiments are considered by the examiner to present overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the differences between the appearances of the embodiments are considered minor and patentably indistinct, or are shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art cited. Accordingly, they are deemed to be obvious variations and are being retained and examined in the same application. Any rejection of one embodiment over prior art will apply equally to all other embodiments. See Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the embodiments will be considered once the embodiments have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept. Failure of applicant to traverse this determination in reply to this action will be considered an admission of lack of patentable distinction between the above identified embodiments.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.

¶ 15.27.03    Restriction Not Required - Change In Appearance (First Action Issue)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 - Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 - Figs. [2]

[3]

Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

The above identified embodiments are considered by the examiner to present overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the differences between the appearances of the embodiments are considered minor and patentably indistinct, or are shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art cited. Accordingly, they are deemed to be obvious variations and are being retained and examined in the same application.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.

The following form paragraphs may be used in a restriction requirement. Examiners must include a brief explanation of the differences between the appearances of the embodiments that render them patentably distinct.

¶ 15.27    Restriction Under 35 U.S.C. 121

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 - Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 - Figs. [2]

[3]

Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967). The [4] create(s) patentably distinct designs.

Because of the differences identified, the embodiments are considered to either have overall appearances that are not basically the same, or if they are basically the same, the differences are not minor and patentably indistinct or are not shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

The above embodiments divide into the following patentably distinct groups of designs:

Group I: Embodiment [5]

Group II: Embodiment [6]

[7]

Restriction is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to one of the above identified patentably distinct groups of designs.

A reply to this requirement must include an election of a single group for prosecution on the merits, even if this requirement is traversed, 37 CFR 1.143. Any reply that does not include election of a single group will be held nonresponsive. Applicant is also requested to direct cancellation of all drawing figures and the corresponding descriptions which are directed to the nonelected groups.

Should applicant traverse this requirement on the grounds that the groups are not patentably distinct, applicant should present evidence or identify such evidence now of record showing the groups to be obvious variations of one another. If the groups are determined not to be patentably distinct and they remain in this application, any rejection of one group over prior art will apply equally to all other embodiments. See Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the groups will be considered once the groups have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept.

In view of the above requirement, action on the merits is deferred pending compliance with the requirement in accordance with Ex parte Heckman, 135 USPQ 229 (P.O. Super. Exam. 1960).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 4, insert an explanation of the difference(s) between the embodiments.
  • 3. In bracket 7, add groups as necessary.

¶ 15.27.01    Restriction Under 35 U.S.C. 121 (Obvious Variations Within Group)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 - Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 - Figs. [2]

[3]

Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

The above embodiments divide into the following patentably distinct groups of designs:

Group I: Embodiment [4]

Group II: Embodiment [5]

[6]

The embodiments disclosed within each group have overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the differences between them are considered minor and patentably indistinct, or are shown to be obvious in view analogous prior art cited. Therefore, they are considered by the examiner to be obvious variations of one another within the group. These embodiments thus comprise a single inventive concept and are grouped together. However, the [7] patentably distinguishes each group from the other(s).

Because of the differences identified, the embodiments of each Group are considered to either have overall appearances that are not basically the same, or if they are basically the same, the differences are not minor and patentably indistinct or are not shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

Restriction is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to one of the patentably distinct groups of the designs.

A reply to this requirement must include an election of a single group for prosecution on the merits, even if this requirement is traversed, 37 CFR 1.143. Any reply that does not include election of a single group will be held nonresponsive. Applicant is also requested to direct cancellation of all drawing figures and the corresponding descriptions which are directed to the nonelected groups.

Should applicant traverse this requirement on the grounds that the groups are not patentably distinct, applicant should present evidence or identify such evidence now of record showing the groups to be obvious variations of one another. If the groups are determined not to be patentably distinct and they remain in this application, any rejection of one group over prior art will apply equally to all other groups. See Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the groups will be considered once the groups have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept.

In view of the above requirement, action on the merits is deferred pending compliance with the requirement in accordance with Ex parte Heckman, 135 USPQ 229 (P.O. Super. Exam. 1960).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 6, add groups as necessary.
  • 3. In bracket 7, insert an explanation of the difference(s) between the groups.

¶ 15.28    Telephone Restriction Under 35 U.S.C. 121

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 - Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 - Figs. [2]

[3]

Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. See In re Rubinfield, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967). The [4] create(s) patentably distinct designs. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

Because of the differences identified, the embodiments of each Group are considered to either have overall appearances that are not basically the same, or, if they are basically the same, the differences are not minor and patentably indistinct or are not shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

The above disclosed embodiments divide into the following patentably distinct groups of designs:

Group I: Embodiment [5]

Group II: Embodiment [6]

[7]

Restriction is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to one of the patentably distinct groups of designs.

During a telephone discussion with [8] on [9], a provisional election was made [10] traverse to prosecute the design(s) of group [11]. Affirmation of this election should be made by applicant in replying to this Office action.

Group [12] is withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner, 37 CFR 1.142(b), as being for a nonelected design(s).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 4, insert an explanation of the difference(s) between the embodiments.
  • 3. In bracket 7, add groups as necessary.
  • 4. In bracket 10, insert --with-- or --without--.

¶ 15.28.01    Telephone Restriction Under 35 U.S.C.121 (Obvious Variations Within Group)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 – Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 – Figs. [2]

[3]

Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. See In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

The above embodiments divide into the following patentably distinct groups of designs:

Group I: Embodiment [4]

Group II: Embodiment [5]

[6]

The embodiments disclosed within each group have overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the differences between them are considered minor and patentably indistinct, or are shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art cited. Therefore, they are considered by the examiner to be obvious variations of one another within the group. These embodiments thus comprise a single inventive concept and are grouped together. However, the [7] patentably distinguishes each group from the other(s).

Because of the differences identified, the embodiments of each Group are considered to either have overall appearances that are not basically the same, or if they are basically the same, the differences are not minor and patentably indistinct or are not shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

Restriction is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to one of the patentably distinct groups of designs.

During a telephone discussion with [8] on [9], a provisional election was made [10] traverse to prosecute the design(s) of group [11]. Affirmation of this election should be made by applicant in replying to this Office action.

Group [12] is withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner, 37 CFR 1.142(b), as being for a nonelected design(s).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 6, add groups as necessary.
  • 3. In bracket 7, insert an explanation of the differences between the groups.
  • 4. In bracket 10, insert --with--or --without--.

¶ 15.31    Provisional Election Required (37 CFR 1.143)

Applicant is advised that the reply to be complete must include a provisional election of one of the enumerated designs, even though the requirement may be traversed (37 CFR 1.143).

B.   Combination/Subcombination - Difference in Scope

A design claim covers the entire design as a whole. Furthermore, claim protection to the whole design does not extend to any individual part or portion thereof. See KeyStone Retaining Wall Systems Inc. v. Westrock Inc., 997 F.2d 1444, 27 USPQ2d 1297 (Fed. Cir. 1993). Embodiments directed to a design as a whole (combination) as well as individual parts or portions (subcombination) thereof may not be included in a single application if the appearances are patentably distinct. In such instance restriction would be required since patentably distinct combination/subcombination subject matter must be supported by separate claims. However, a design claim may cover embodiments of different scope directed to the same inventive concept within a single application if the designs are not patentably distinct. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). The court held that the inventive concept of a design is not limited to its embodiment in a single specific article, and as long as the various embodiments are not patentably distinct, they may be protected by a single claim. Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C. 1965). The determination that the design of the subcombination/element is patentably indistinct from the combination means that the designs are not patentable (novel and unobvious) over each other and may remain in the same application. If the embodiments are patentably distinct, the designs are considered to be separate inventions which require separate claims, and restriction to one or the other is necessary. See In re Kelly, 200 USPQ 560 (Comm’r Pat. 1978); Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Ex parte Heckman, 135 USPQ 229 (P.O. Super. Exam. 1960). In determining whether embodiments of different scope can be retained in a single application they must have overall appearances that are basically the same, and the difference in scope must be minor and not a patentable distinction. That is, they must, by themselves, be considered obvious over each other under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) without the aid of analogous prior art. The reason for this, as stated above, is because claim protection to the whole design does not extend to any individual part or portion thereof. Therefore, if the difference in scope between embodiments has an impact on the overall appearance that distinguishes one over the other, they must be restricted since the difference in scope creates patentably distinct designs that must be supported by separate claims. Form paragraph 15.27.04 or 15.27.05, if appropriate, may be used to notify applicant that restriction is not required because the embodiments required are not patentably distinct.

¶ 15.27.04    Restriction Not Required – Change In Scope (First Action – Non Issue)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 – Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 – Figs. [2]

[3]

Designs which involve a change in scope may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. However, design patent protection does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts of a design. Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C. 1965).

The above identified embodiments are considered by the examiner to present overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the difference in scope between embodiments is considered minor and patentably indistinct. Accordingly, they are deemed to be obvious variations and are being retained and examined in the same application. Any rejection of one embodiment over prior art will apply equally to all other embodiments. Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the embodiments will be considered once the embodiments have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept. Failure of applicant to traverse this determination in reply to this Office action will be considered an admission of lack of patentable distinction between the embodiments.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.

¶ 15.27.05    Restriction Not Required – Change In Scope (First Action Issue)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 – Figs. [1]

Embodiment 2 – Figs. [2]

[3]

Designs which involve a change in scope may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. However, design patent protection does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts of a design. Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C. 1965).

The above identified embodiments are considered by the examiner to present overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the difference in scope between embodiments is considered minor and patentably indistinct. Accordingly, they are deemed to be obvious variations and are being retained and examined in the same application.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 3, add embodiments as necessary.

Form paragraph 15.29 or 15.30, if appropriate, may be used to make a restriction requirement.

¶ 15.29    Restriction Under 35 U.S.C. 121 (Segregable Parts or Combination/Subcombination)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 – Figs. [1] drawn to a [2].

Embodiment 2 – Figs. [3] drawn to a [4].

[5]

Restriction to one of the following inventions is required under 35 U.S.C. 121:

Group I – Embodiment [6]

Group II – Embodiment [7]

[8]

The designs as grouped are distinct from each other since under the law a design patent covers only the invention disclosed as an entirety, and does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts; the only way to protect such segregable parts is to apply for separate patents. See Ex parte Sanford, 1914 CD 69, 204 OG 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); and Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C. 1965). It is further noted that patentably distinct combination/subcombination subject matter must be supported by separate claims, whereas only a single claim is permissible in a design patent application. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959).

[9]

Because the designs are distinct for the reason(s) given above, and have acquired separate status in the art, restriction for examination purposes as indicated is proper (35 U.S.C. 121).

A reply to this requirement must include an election of a single group for prosecution on the merits, even if this requirement is traversed. 37 CFR 1.143. Any reply that does not include an election of a single group will be held nonresponsive. Applicant is also requested to direct cancellation of all drawing figures and the corresponding descriptions which are directed to the nonelected groups.

Should applicant traverse this requirement on the grounds that the groups are not patentably distinct, applicant should present evidence or identify such evidence now of record showing the groups to be obvious variations of one another. If the groups are determined not to be patentably distinct and they remain in this application, any rejection of one group over the prior art will apply equally to all other groups. See Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the groups will be considered once the groups have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept.

In view of the above requirement, action on the merits is deferred pending compliance with the requirement in accordance with Ex parte Heckman, 135 USPQ 229 (P.O. Super. Exam. 1960).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 5, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 8, add groups as necessary.
  • 3. In bracket 9, add comments, if necessary.

¶ 15.30    Telephone Restriction Under 35 U.S.C. 121 (Segregable Parts or Combination/Subcombination)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 – Figs. [1] drawn to a [2].

Embodiment 2 – Figs. [3] drawn to a [4].

[5]

Restriction to one of the following inventions is required under 35 U.S.C. 121:

Group I – Embodiment [6]

Group II – Embodiment [7]

[8]

The designs as grouped are distinct from each other since under the law a design patent covers only the invention disclosed as an entirety, and does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts; the only way to protect such segregable parts is to apply for separate patents. See Ex parte Sanford, 1914 CD 69, 204 OG 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); and Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C. 1965). It is further noted that patentably distinct combination/subcombination subject matter must be supported by separate claims, whereas only a single claim is permissible in a design patent application. See In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959).

[9]

During a telephone discussion with [10] on [11], a provisional election was made [12] traverse to prosecute the invention of Group [13]. Affirmation of this election should be made by applicant in replying to this Office action.

Group [14] withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner, 37 CFR 1.142(b) as being for a nonelected invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 5, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 8, add groups as necessary.
  • 3. In bracket 9, insert additional comments, if necessary.

Form paragraph 15.27.06 or 15.27.07, if appropriate, may be used to notify applicant that restriction is not required because the designs are not patentably distinct.

¶ 15.27.06    Restriction Not Required (Change in Appearance and Scope – First Action Non Issue)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 - Figs. [1] drawn to a [2].

Embodiment 2 - Figs. [3] drawn to a [4].

[5]

Embodiments [6] involve a difference in appearance. Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

Embodiment(s) [7] directed to the combination(s) in relation to Embodiment(s) [8] directed to the subcombination(s)/element(s). Designs which involve a change in scope may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. However, design protection does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts of a design. Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C.1965).

The above identified embodiments are considered by the examiner to present overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the differences between embodiments are considered minor and patentably indistinct, or are shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art cited. Accordingly, they are deemed to be obvious variations and are being retained and examined in the same application. Any rejection of one embodiment over prior art will apply equally to all other embodiments. Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the embodiments will be considered once the embodiments have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept. Failure of applicant to traverse this determination in reply to this action will be considered an admission of lack of patentable distinction between the embodiments.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 5, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. Insert an explanation of the differences between the designs in the explanations of the embodiments; for example, Figs. 1 – 5 directed to a cup and saucer; Figs. 6 – 9 directed to a saucer.
  • 3. It is possible and proper that embodiments may be listed in both explanatory paragraphs.

¶ 15.27.07    Restriction Not Required (Change in Appearance and Scope – First Action Issue)

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1 – Figs. [1] drawn to a [2].

Embodiment 2 – Figs. [3] drawn to a [4].

[5]

Embodiment(s) [6] involve a difference in appearance. Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967).

Embodiment(s) [7] directed to the combination(s) in relation to Embodiment(s) [8] directed to the subcombination(s)/element(s). Designs which involve a change in scope may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. However, design protection does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts of a design. Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C.1965).

The above identified embodiments are considered by the examiner to present overall appearances that are basically the same. Furthermore, the differences between embodiments are considered minor and patentably indistinct, or are shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art cited. Accordingly, they were deemed to be obvious variations and are being retained and examined in the same application. Accordingly, they were deemed to comprise a single inventive concept and have been examined together.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 5, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. Insert an explanation of the differences between the designs in the explanations of the embodiments; for example, Figs. 1 – 5 directed to a cup and saucer; Figs. 6 – 9 directed to a saucer.
  • 3. It is possible and proper that embodiments may be listed in both explanatory paragraphs.

The following form paragraphs may be used in a restriction requirement.

Examiners must include a brief explanation of the differences between embodiments that render them patentably distinct.

¶ 15.27.08    Restriction with Differences in Appearance and Scope

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1: Figs. [1] drawn to a [2].

Embodiment 2: Figs. [3] drawn to a [4].

[5]

The above embodiments divide into the following patentably distinct groups of designs:

Group I: Embodiment [6]

Group II: Embodiment [7]

[8]

Group(s) [9] involve a difference in appearance. Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967). The [10] creates patentably distinct designs.

Because of the differences identified, the embodiments are considered to either have overall appearances that are not basically the same, or if they are basically the same, the differences are not minor and patentably indistinct or are not shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

Group(s) [11] directed to the combination(s) in relation to Group(s) [12] directed to the subcombination(s)/element(s). The designs as grouped are distinct from each other since under the law a design patent covers only the design disclosed as an entirety, and does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts; the only way to protect such segregable parts is to apply for separate patents. Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Blumcraft of Pittsburgh v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C.1965). It is further noted that combination/subcombination subject matter, if patentably distinct, must be supported by separate claims, whereas only a single claim is permissible in a design patent application. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959).

In any groups that include multiple embodiments, the embodiments are considered by the examiner to be obvious variations of one another within the group and, therefore, patentably indistinct. These embodiments thus comprise a single inventive concept and are grouped together.

Restriction is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to one of the patentably distinct groups of designs.

A reply to this requirement must include an election of a single group for prosecution on the merits even if this requirement is traversed. 37 CFR 1.143. Any reply that does not include an election of a single group will be held nonresponsive. Applicant is also requested to direct cancellation of all drawing figures and the corresponding descriptions which are directed to the nonelected groups.

Should applicant traverse this requirement on the grounds that the groups are not patentably distinct, applicant should present evidence or identify such evidence now of record showing the groups to be obvious variations of one another. If the groups are determined not to be patentably distinct and they remain in this application, any rejection of one group over prior art will apply equally to all other groups. Ex parte Appeal No. 315-40, 152 USPQ 71 (Bd. App. 1965). No argument asserting patentability based on the differences between the groups will be considered once the groups have been determined to comprise a single inventive concept.

In view of the above requirement, action on the merits is deferred pending compliance with the requirement in accordance with Ex parte Heckman, 135 USPQ 229 (P.O. Super. Exam. 1960).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 5, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 8, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 3. Insert an explanation of the differences between the designs in the explanations of the embodiments; for example, Figs. 1 – 5 directed to a cup and saucer; Figs. 6 – 9 directed to a saucer.
  • 4. It is possible and proper that embodiments may be listed in both explanatory paragraphs.
  • 5. In bracket 10, insert an explanation of the differences between the designs.

¶ 15.28.02    Telephone Restriction with Differences in Appearance and Scope

This application discloses the following embodiments:

Embodiment 1: Figs. [1] drawn to a [2].

Embodiment 2: Figs. [3] drawn to a [4].

[5]

The above embodiments divide into the following patentably distinct groups of designs:

Group I: Embodiment [6]

Group II: Embodiment [7]

[8]

Group(s) [9] involve a difference in appearance. Multiple embodiments of a single inventive concept may be included in the same design application only if they are patentably indistinct. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959). Embodiments that are patentably distinct from one another do not constitute a single inventive concept and thus may not be included in the same design application. In re Platner, 155 USPQ 222 (Comm’r Pat. 1967). The [10] creates patentably distinct designs.

Because of the differences identified, the embodiments are considered to either have overall appearances that are not basically the same, or if they are basically the same, the differences are not minor and patentably indistinct or are not shown to be obvious in view of analogous prior art.

Group(s) [11] directed to the combination(s) in relation to Group(s) [12] directed to the subcombination(s)/element(s). The designs as grouped are distinct from each other since under the law a design patent covers only the design disclosed as an entirety, and does not extend to patentably distinct segregable parts; the only way to protect such segregable parts is to apply for separate patents. Ex parte Sanford, 1914 C.D. 69, 204 O.G. 1346 (Comm’r Pat. 1914); Blumcraft of Pittsburg v. Ladd, 238 F. Supp. 648, 144 USPQ 562 (D.D.C.1965). It is further noted that combination/subcombination subject matter, if patentably distinct, must be supported by separate claims, whereas only a single claim is permissible in a design patent application. In re Rubinfield, 270 F.2d 391, 123 USPQ 210 (CCPA 1959).

In any groups that include multiple embodiments, the embodiments are considered by the examiner to be obvious variations of one another within the group and, therefore, patentably indistinct. These embodiments thus comprise a single inventive concept and are grouped together.

Restriction is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to one of the patentably distinct groups of designs.

During a telephone discussion with [13] on [14], a provisional election was made [15] traverse to prosecute the invention of Group [16]. Affirmation of this election should be made by applicant in replying to this Office action.

Group [17] is withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner, 37 CFR 1.142(b), as being for a nonelected invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 5, add embodiments as necessary.
  • 2. In bracket 8, add groups as necessary.
  • 3. Insert an explanation of the differences between the designs in the explanations of the embodiments; for example, Figs. 1 – 5 directed to a cup and saucer; Figs. 6 – 9 directed to a saucer.
  • 4. It is possible and proper that embodiments may be listed in both explanatory paragraphs.
  • 5. In bracket 10, insert an explanation of the differences between the designs.
  • 6. In bracket 15, insert --with-- or --without--.

¶ 15.33    Qualifying Statement To Be Used In Restriction When A Common Embodiment Is Included In More Than One Group

The common embodiment is included in more than a single group as it is patentably indistinct from the other embodiment(s) in those groups and to give applicant the broadest possible choices in his or her election. If the common embodiment is elected in this application, then applicant is advised that the common embodiment should not be included in any continuing application to avoid a rejection on the ground of double patenting under 35 U.S.C. 171 in the new application.

The following form paragraphs may be used to notify applicant that the nonelected invention(s) are withdrawn from consideration.

¶ 15.34    Groups Withdrawn From Consideration After Traverse

Group [1] withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner, 37 CFR 1.142(b), as being for a nonelected design, the requirement having been traversed in the reply filed on [2].

¶ 15.35    Cancel Nonelected Design (Traverse)

The restriction requirement maintained in this application is or has been made final. Applicant must cancel Group [1] directed to the design(s) nonelected with traverse in the reply filed on [2], or take other timely appropriate action (37 CFR 1.144).

¶ 15.36    Groups Withdrawn From Consideration Without Traverse

Group [1] withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner, 37 CFR 1.142(b), as being for the nonelected design. Election was made without traverse in the reply filed on [2].

¶ 15.37    Cancellation of Nonelected Groups, No Traverse

In view of the fact that this application is in condition for allowance except for the presence of Group [1] directed to a design or designs nonelected without traverse in the reply filed on [2], and without the right to petition, such Group(s) have been canceled.

III.   TRAVERSAL OF RESTRICTION REQUIREMENT

If a response to a restriction requirement includes an election with traverse on the grounds that the groups are not patentably distinct, applicant must present evidence or identify such evidence of record showing the groups to be obvious variations of one another. Traversal of a restriction requirement alone without an explanation in support thereof will be treated as an election without traverse. See MPEP § 818.03(a) and form paragraph 8.25.02.

A traversal of a restriction requirement based on there being no serious burden to an examiner to search and examine an entire application (as noted in MPEP § 803) is not applicable to design patent applications. The fact that the embodiments may be searched together cannot preclude a requirement for restriction if their appearances are considered patentably distinct, since patentably distinct embodiments cannot be supported by a single formal design claim. Also, clear admission on the record by the applicant that the embodiments are not patentably distinct (as noted in MPEP § 809.02(a)) will not overcome a requirement for restriction if the embodiments do not have overall appearances that are basically the same as each other.

When a traversal specifically points out the supposed errors in a restriction, examiners must reevaluate the requirement in view of these remarks. If the restriction requirement is to be maintained, it must be repeated and made final in the next Office action and the arguments answered. See MPEP § 821.01. No application should be allowed on the next Office action where a response to a restriction requirement includes an election with traverse, unless the traversal is withdrawn in view of a telephone interview, or the examiner withdraws the restriction requirement.

1504.06   Double Patenting [R-11.2013]

There are generally two types of double patenting rejections. One is the “same invention” type double patenting rejection based on 35 U.S.C. 171 which states in the singular that an inventor “may obtain a patent.” The second is the “nonstatutory-type” double patenting rejection based on a judicially created doctrine grounded in public policy and which is primarily intended to prevent prolongation of the patent term by prohibiting claims in a second patent not patentably distinct from claims in a first patent. Nonstatutory double patenting includes rejections based on one-way determination of obviousness, and two-way determination of obviousness.

The charts in MPEP § 804 outline the procedure for handling all double patenting rejections.

Double patenting rejections are based on a comparison of the claims in a patent and an application or between two applications; the disclosure of the patent or application may be relied upon only to define the claim. 35 U.S.C. 171 specifically states that “a patent” may be obtained if certain conditions are met; this use of the singular makes it clear that only one patent may issue for a design.

Determining if a double patenting rejection is appropriate involves answering the following inquiries: Is the same design being claimed twice? If the answer is yes, then a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 171 should be given on the grounds of “same invention” type double patenting. If not, are the designs directed to patentably indistinct variations of the same inventive concept? If the answer is yes, then a rejection based on the nonstatutory type double patenting should be given.

Double patenting rejections are based on a comparison of claims. While there is a direct correlation between the drawings in a design application and the claim, examiners must be aware that no such correlation is necessary in a utility application or patent. Several utility patents may issue with the identical drawing disclosure but with claims directed to different inventions. So any consideration of possible double patenting rejections between a utility application or patent with a design application cannot be based on the utility drawing disclosure alone. Anchor Hocking Corp. v. Eyelet Specialty Co., 377 F. Supp. 98, 183 USPQ 87 (D. Del. 1974). The examiner must be able to recreate the design claimed from the utility claims without any reliance whatsoever on the drawings.

If a provisional double patenting rejection (of any type) is the only rejection remaining in two conflicting applications, the examiner should withdraw that rejection in one of the applications (e.g., the application with the earlier filing date) and permit the application to issue as a patent. The examiner should maintain the provisional double patenting rejection in the other application which rejection will be converted into a double patenting rejection when the first application issues as a patent. If more than two applications conflict with each other and one is allowed, the remaining applications should be cross rejected against the others as well as the allowed application. For this type of rejection to be appropriate, there must be either at least one inventor in common, or a common assignee. If the claims in copending design applications or a design patent and design applications have a common assignee but different inventive entities, rejections under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) / 35 U.S.C. 103 or 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and (g) /35 U.S.C. 103(a) as applicable must be considered in addition to the double patenting rejection. See MPEP § 804, § 2136, § 2137 and § 2138.

I.   “SAME INVENTION” DOUBLE PATENTING REJECTIONS

A design - design statutory double patenting rejection based on 35 U.S.C. 171 prevents the issuance of a second patent for a design already patented. For this type of double patenting rejection to be proper, identical designs with identical scope must be twice claimed. In re Goodman, 11 F.3d 1046, 29 USPQ2d 2010 (Fed. Cir. 1993). A design - utility “same invention” double patenting rejection is based on judicial doctrine as there is no statutory basis for this rejection because neither 35 U.S.C. 101 nor 35 U.S.C. 171 can be applied against both claims. In re Thorington, 418 F.2d 528, 163 USPQ 644 (CCPA 1969). The “same invention” type of double patenting rejection, whether statutory or nonstatutory, cannot be overcome by a terminal disclaimer. In re Swett, 145 F.2d 631, 172 USPQ 72 (CCPA 1971).

¶ 15.23.02    Summary for “Same Invention” – Type Double Patenting Rejections

Applicant is advised that a terminal disclaimer may not be used to overcome a “same invention” type double patenting rejection. In re Thorington, 418 F.2d 528, 163 USPQ 644 (CCPA 1969); MPEP § 804.02.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should follow all “same invention” type double patenting rejections.

¶ 15.23    35 U.S.C. 171 Double Patenting Rejection (Design-Design)

The claim is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 on the ground of double patenting since it is claiming the same design as that claimed in United States Design Patent No. [1].

Examiner Note:

Form paragraph 15.23.02 should follow all “same invention” type double patenting rejections.

¶ 15.23.01    35 U.S.C. 171 Provisional Double Patenting Rejection (Design-Design)

The claim is provisionally rejected under 35 U.S.C. 171 on the ground of double patenting since it is claiming the same design as that claimed in copending Application No. [1]. This is a provisional double patenting rejection since the conflicting claims have not in fact been patented.

Examiner Note:

Form paragraph 15.23.02 should follow all “same invention” type double patenting rejections.

¶ 15.24.07    Double Patenting Rejection (Design-Utility)

The claim is rejected under the judicially created doctrine of double patenting as being directed to the same invention as that set forth in claim [1] of United States Patent No. [2]. See In re Thorington, 418 F.2d 528,163 USPQ 644 (CCPA 1969).

Examiner Note:

Form paragraph 15.23.02 should follow all “same invention” type double patenting rejections.

¶ 15.24.08    Provisional Double Patenting Rejection (Design-Utility)

The claim is provisionally rejected under the judicially created doctrine of double patenting as being directed to the same invention as that set forth in claim [1] of copending Application No. [2]. See In re Thorington, 418 F.2d 528,163 USPQ 644 (CCPA 1969).

This is a provisional double patenting rejection because the claims have not in fact been patented.

Examiner Note:

Form paragraph 15.23.02 should follow all “same invention” type double patenting rejections.

II.   NONSTATUTORY DOUBLE PATENTING REJECTIONS

A rejection based on nonstatutory double patenting is based on a judicially created doctrine grounded in public policy so as to prevent the unjustified or improper timewise extension of the right to exclude granted by a patent. In re Goodman, 11 F.3d 1046, 29 USPQ2d 2010 (Fed. Cir. 1993).

A nonstatutory double patenting rejection of the obviousness-type applies to claims directed to the same inventive concept with different appearances or differing scope which are patentably indistinct from each other. Nonstatutory categories of double patenting rejections which are not the “same invention” type may be overcome by the submission of a terminal disclaimer.

In determining whether an obviousness-type double patenting rejection is appropriate, the examiner must compare the overall appearance of the claimed design in the application with the overall appearance of the claimed design in the conflicting application or patent. The claim in the patent or conflicting application must be considered as a whole, i.e., the elements of the claimed design of the reference are not considered individually as they may be when establishing a prima facie case of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103 . After the factual inquiries mandated under Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), have been made, as with a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a), the examiner must then determine whether the results of the inquiries support a conclusion of prima facie obviousness-type double patenting. To establish a prima facie case of obviousness-type double patenting: (A) the conflicting design claims must have overall appearances with basically the same design characteristics; and (B) the differences between the two designs must be insufficient to patentably distinguish one design from the other. Differences may be considered patentably insufficient when they are de minimis or obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art. While the conflicting application or patent (if less than a year older than the application) used to establish a prima facie case of obviousness-type double patenting is not considered “prior art,” the principle involved is the same. In re Zickendraht, 319 F.2d 225, 138 USPQ 22 (CCPA 1963)(see concurring opinion of Judge Rich).

In determining whether to make an obviousness-type double patenting rejection between designs having differing scope, the examiner should compare the reference claim with the application claim. A rejection is appropriate if:

  • (A) The difference in scope is minor and patentably indistinct between the claims being compared;
  • (B) Patent protection for the design, fully disclosed in and covered by the claim of the reference, would be extended by the allowance of the claim in the later filed application; and
  • (C) No terminal disclaimer has been filed.

This kind of obviousness-type double patenting rejection in designs will occur between designs which may be characterized as a combination (narrow claim) and a subcombination/element thereof (broad claim). See discussion in MPEP § 1504.05, subsection II, B. If the designs are patentably indistinct and are directed to the same inventive concept the examiner must determine whether the subject matter of the narrower claim is fully disclosed in and covered by the broader claim of the reference. If the reference does not fully disclose the narrower claim, then a double patenting rejection should not be made. The additional disclosure necessary to establish that the applicant was in possession of the narrower claim at the time the broader claim was filed may be in a title or descriptive statement as well as in a broken line showing in the drawings. If the broader claim of the reference does not disclose the additional subject matter claimed in the narrower claim, then applicant could not have claimed the narrower claim at the time the application with the broader claim was filed and a rejection under nonstatutory double patenting would be inappropriate.

A nonstatutory double patenting rejection may be made between a patent and an application or provisionally between applications. Such rejection over a patent should only be given if the patent issued less than a year before the filing date of the application. If the patent is more than a year older than the application, the patent is considered to be “prior art” which may be applied in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) /35 U.S.C. 103 or 35 U.S.C. 102(b)/103(a) as applicable. The purpose of a terminal disclaimer is to obviate a double patenting rejection by removing potential harm to the public by issuing a second patent. See MPEP § 804.

If the issue of double patenting is raised between a patent and a continuing application, examiners are reminded that this ground of rejection can only be made when the filing of the continuing application is voluntary and not the direct, unmodified result of restriction requirement under 35 U.S.C. 121. See MPEP § 804.01.

Examiners should particularly note that a design-design nonstatutory double patenting rejection does not always have to be made in both of the conflicting applications. For the most part, these rejections will be made in each of the conflicting applications; but, if the rejection is only appropriate in one direction, it is proper to reject only one application. The criteria for determining whether a one-way obviousness determination is necessary or a two-way obviousness determination is necessary is set forth in MPEP § 804. However, in design-utility situations, a two-way obviousness determination is necessary for the rejection to be proper. In re Dembiczak, 175 F.3d 994, 50 USPQ2d 1614 (Fed. Cir. 1999).

The following form paragraphs may be used in making a double patenting rejection. Explanation should be provided in the appropriate brackets.

¶ 15.24.06    Basis for Nonstatutory Double Patenting, “Heading Only”

The non-statutory double patenting rejection is based on a judicially created doctrine grounded in public policy (a policy reflected in the statute) so as to prevent the unjustified or improper timewise extension of the “right to exclude” granted by a patent and to prevent possible harassment by multiple assignees. See In re Goodman, 11 F.3d 1046, 29 USPQ2d 2010 (Fed. Cir. 1993); In re Longi, 759 F.2d 887, 225 USPQ 645 (Fed. Cir. 1985); In re Van Ornum, 686 F.2d 937, 214 USPQ 761 (CCPA 1982); In re Vogel, 422 F.2d 438, 164 USPQ 619 (CCPA 1970); and In re Thorington, 418 F.2d 528, 163 USPQ 644 (CCPA 1969).

A timely filed terminal disclaimer in compliance with 37 CFR 1.321(c) may be used to overcome an actual or provisional rejection based on a nonstatutory double patenting ground provided the conflicting application or patent is shown to be commonly owned with this application. See 37 CFR 1.131(c). A registered attorney or agent of record may sign a terminal disclaimer.

The USPTO internet Web site contains terminal disclaimer forms which may be used. Please visit http://www.uspto.gov/forms/. The filing date of the application will determine what form should be used. A web-based eTerminal Disclaimer may be filled out completely online using web-screens. An eTerminal Disclaimer that meets all requirements is auto-processed and approved immediately upon submission. For more information about eTerminal Disclaimers, refer to http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/eTD-info-I.jsp.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must precede all nonstatutory double patenting rejections as a heading, except “same invention” type.

¶ 15.24    Obviousness-type Double Patenting Rejection (Single Reference)

The claim is rejected under the judicially created doctrine of the obviousness-type double patenting of the claim in United States Patent No. [1]. Although the conflicting claims are not identical, they are not patentably distinct from each other because [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert prior U.S. Patent Number.
  • 2. In bracket 2, the differences between the conflicting claims must be identified and indicated as being minor and not distinguishing the overall appearance of one over the other.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.24.06 and followed by form paragraph 15.67.

¶ 15.24.03    Provisional Obviousness-Type Double Patenting Rejection (Single Reference)

The claim is provisionally rejected under the judicially created doctrine of the obviousness-type double patenting of the claim of copending Application No. [1]. Although the conflicting claims are not identical, they are not patentably distinct from each other because [2]. This is a provisional obviousness-type double patenting rejection because the conflicting claims have not in fact been patented.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert conflicting application number.
  • 2. In bracket 2, the differences between the conflicting claims must be identified and indicated as being minor and not distinguishing the overall appearance of one over the other.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.24.06 and followed by form paragraph 15.67.

¶ 15.67    Rationale for 35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection (Single Reference)

It is well settled that it is unobviousness in the overall appearance of the claimed design, when compared with the prior art, rather than minute details or small variations in design as appears to be the case here, that constitutes the test of design patentability. See In re Frick, 275 F.2d 741, 125 USPQ 191 (CCPA 1960) and In re Lamb, 286 F.2d 610, 128 USPQ 539 (CCPA 1961).

¶ 15.25    Obviousness-Type Double Patenting Rejection (Multiple References)

The claim is rejected under the judicially created doctrine of the obviousness-type double patenting of the claim(s) in United States Patent No. [1] in view of [2]. At the time applicant made the design, it would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art to [3] as demonstrated by [4].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert conflicting patent number.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert secondary reference(s).
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert an explanation of how the conflicting claim in the patent is modified.
  • 4. In bracket 4, identify the secondary reference(s) teaching the modification(s).
  • 5. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.24.06 and followed by form paragraph 15.68.

¶ 15.24.04    Provisional Obviousness-Type Double Patenting Rejection (Multiple References)

The claim is provisionally rejected under the judicially created doctrine of the obviousness-type double patenting of the claim of copending Application No. [1] in view of [2]. At the time applicant made the design, it would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill in the art to [3] as demonstrated by [4]. This is a provisional obviousness-type double patenting rejection because the conflicting claims have not in fact been patented.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert conflicting application number.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert secondary reference(s).
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert an explanation of how the conflicting claim in the copending application is modified.
  • 4. In bracket 4, identify the secondary reference(s) teaching the modification(s).
  • 5. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 15.24.06 and followed by form paragraph 15.68.

¶ 15.68    Rationale for 35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection (Multiple References)

This modification of the primary reference in light of the secondary reference is proper because the applied references are so related that the appearance of features shown in one would suggest the application of those features to the other. See In re Rosen, 673 F.2d 388, 213 USPQ 347 (CCPA 1982); In re Carter, 673 F.2d 1378, 213 USPQ 625 (CCPA 1982), and In re Glavas, 230 F.2d 447, 109 USPQ 50 (CCPA 1956). Further, it is noted that case law has held that a designer skilled in the art is charged with knowledge of the related art; therefore, the combination of old elements, herein, would have been well within the level of ordinary skill. See In re Antle, 444 F.2d 1168,170 USPQ 285 (CCPA 1971) and In re Nalbandian, 661 F.2d 1214, 211 USPQ 782 (CCPA 1981).

1504.07 - 1504.09   [Reserved]

1504.10   Priority Under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 172   Right of priority.

The right of priority provided for by subsections (a) through (d) of section 119 shall be six months in the case of designs. The right of priority provided for by section 119(e)hall not apply to designs.

The provisions of 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) apply to design patent applications. However, in order to obtain the benefit of an earlier foreign filing date, the United States application must be filed within 6 months of the earliest date on which any foreign application for the same design was filed. Design applications may not make a claim for priority of a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e).

¶ 15.01    Conditions Under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d)

Applicant is advised of conditions as specified in 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) . An application for a design patent for an invention filed in this country by any person who has, or whose legal representatives have previously filed an application for a design patent, or equivalent protection for the same design in a foreign country which offers similar privileges in the case of applications filed in the United States or in a WTO member country, or to citizens of the United States, shall have the same effect as the same application would have if filed in this country on the date on which the application for patent for the same invention was first filed in such foreign country, if the application in this country is filed within six (6) months from the earliest date on which such foreign application was filed.

¶ 15.01.01    Conditions Under 35 U.S.C. 172 Not Met

The claim for priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) to the [1] application is acknowledged, however, the claim for priority cannot be based on such application since it was filed more than six (6) months before the filing of the application in the United States. 35 U.S.C 172.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket, insert the name of the foreign country.

¶ 15.03    Untimely Priority Papers

Receipt is acknowledged of the filing on [1] of a certified copy of the [2] application which applicant seeks to claim priority . A claim for priority cannot be based on said application, since the United States application was filed more than six (6) months thereafter (35 U.S.C. 172).

The United States will recognize claims for the right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) based on applications filed under such bilateral or multilateral treaties as the “Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs,” “Uniform Benelux Act on Designs and Models” and “European Community Design.” In filing a claim for priority of a foreign application previously filed under such a treaty, certain information must be supplied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The required information is::

  • (A) the application number,
  • (B) the date of filing of the foreign application,
  • (C) the name and location of the national or inter-governmental authority which received the application.

¶ 15.02    Right of Priority Under 35 U.S.C. 119(b)

No application for design patent shall be entitled to the right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(b) and 37 CFR 1.55 unless a claim therefor and a certified copy of the original foreign application, specification and drawings upon which it is based are filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office before the issue fee is paid, or at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director not earlier than six (6) months after the filing of the application in this country. Such certification shall be made by the Patent Office, or other proper authority of the foreign country in which filed, and show the date of the application and of the filing of the specification and other papers. The Director may require a translation of the papers filed if not in the English language, and such other information as deemed necessary.

The notation requirement on design patent application file wrappers when foreign priority is claimed is set forth in MPEP § 202.03.

¶ 15.04    Priority Under Bilateral or Multilateral Treaties

The United States will recognize claims for the right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) based on applications filed under such bilateral or multilateral treaties as the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs, the Benelux Designs Convention and European Community Design. In filing a claim for priority of a foreign application previously filed under such a treaty, certain information must be supplied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The required information is (1) the application number: (2) the date of filing of the application, and (3) the name and location of the national or international governmental authority which received such application.

See MPEP Chapter 200 and 37 CFR 1.55 for further discussion of the practice and procedure under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d). See also MPEP § 213.01.

1504.20   Benefit Under 35 U.S.C. 120 [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 120   Benefit of earlier filing date in the United States.

An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by the first paragraph of section 112 of this title in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 of this title, which is filed by an inventor or inventors named in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed application under this section unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed application is submitted at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director. The Director may consider the failure to submit such an amendment within that time period as a waiver of any benefit under this section. The Director may establish procedures, including the payment of a surcharge, to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this section.

For a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, the later-filed application must contain a reference to the prior-filed application. For applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference to the prior application must be in the application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76). For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the specific reference to the prior application must be in the first sentence(s) of the specification or in an application data sheet.

The failure to timely submit such a reference is considered a waiver of any benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120.

Form paragraph 15.26 may be used to remind applicant where a reference to the prior application must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification or in an application data sheet.

¶ 15.26    Identification of Prior Application(s) in Nonprovisional Applications - Benefit Claimed

Applicant is reminded of the following requirement:

To claim the benefit of a prior-filed application, a continuation or divisional application (other than a continued prosecution application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d)), must include a specific reference to the prior-filed application in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78. If the application was filed before September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title or in an application data sheet; if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet. For benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), the reference must include the relationship (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) of the applications.

Attention is directed to the requirements for “continuing” applications set forth in MPEP § 201.07, § 201.08, and § 211 . Applicants are entitled to claim the benefit of the filing date of earlier applications for later claimed inventions under 35 U.S.C. 120 only when the earlier application discloses that invention in the manner required by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph). In all continuation and divisional applications, a determination must be made by the examiner as to whether the conditions for priority under 35 U.S.C. 120 have been met. The claimed design in a continuation application and in a divisional application must be disclosed in the original application. If this condition is not met, the application is not entitled to the benefit of the earlier filing date and the examiner should notify applicant accordingly by specifying the reasons why applicant is not entitled to claim the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120. Form paragraphs 2.09 and 2.10 may be used followed by a specific explanation as to why the later filed application fails to comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C 120. The examiner should also require applicant to cancel the claim for benefit by filing an application data sheet deleting the reference to the prior-filed provisional application. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, where appropriate, applicant should file an amendment deleting the claim for benefit in the beginning sentence(s) of the application or submit a supplemental application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76(c)) deleting the benefit claim.

For applications filed prior to September 21, 2004, in the absence of a statement in the application as originally filed incorporating by reference the disclosure of an earlier filed application, the disclosure in a continuing application may not be amended to conform to that of the earlier filed application for which priority is claimed. A mere statement that an application is a continuation or division of an earlier filed application is not an incorporation of anything into the application containing such reference for purposes of satisfying the disclosure requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a), (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph). In re de Seversky, 474 F.2d 671, 177 USPQ 144 (CCPA 1973). See also MPEP § 608.01(p). For applications filed on or after September 21, 2004, 37 CFR 1.57(a) provides that a claim under 37 CFR 1.78 for the benefit of a prior-filed application, that was present on the filing date of the application, is considered an incorporation by reference as to inadvertently omitted material. See MPEP § 217.

When the first application is found to be fatally defective under 35 U.S.C. 112 because of insufficient disclosure to support an allowable claim and such position has been made of record by the examiner, a second design patent application filed as an alleged “continuation-in-part” of the first application to supply the deficiency is not entitled to the benefit of the earlier filing date. See Hunt Co. v.Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, 177 F.2d 583, 83 USPQ 277 (F2d Cir. 1949) and cases cited therein. Also, a design application filed as a “continuation-in-part” that changes the shape or configuration of a design disclosed in an earlier application is not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the earlier application. See In re Salmon, 705 F.2d 1579, 217 USPQ 981 (Fed. Cir. 1983). However, a later filed application that changes the scope of a design claimed in an earlier filed application by reducing certain portions of the drawing to broken lines is not a change in configuration as defined by the court in Salmon. See MPEP § 1504.04, subsection II.

Unless the filing date of an earlier application is actually needed, for example, in the case of an interference or to avoid an intervening reference, there is no need for the examiner to make a determination in a continuation-in-part application as to whether the requirement of 35 U.S.C. 120 is met. Note the holdings in In re Corba, 212 USPQ 825 (Comm’r Pat. 1981).

Form paragraph 15.74 may be used in a first Office action on the merits in any application identified as a continuation-in-part which claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 to a prior application.

¶ 15.74    Continuation-In-Part

Reference to this design application as a continuation-in-part under 35 U.S.C. 120 is acknowledged. Applicant is advised that the design disclosed in the parent application is not the same design as the design disclosed in this application. Therefore, this application does not satisfy the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, under 35 U.S.C. 120 and is not entitled to benefit of the earlier filing date. However, unless the filing date of the earlier application is actually needed, such as to avoid intervening prior art, the entitlement to priority in this CIP application will not be considered. See In re Corba, 212 USPQ 825 (Comm’r Pat. 1981).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should be used to notify applicant that the C-I-P application is not entitled to the benefit of the parent application under 35 U.S.C. 120.

Where a continuation-in-part application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 of the filing date of an earlier application, which in turn claims the priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) of a foreign application, and the conditions of 35 U.S.C. 120 are not met, a determination as to whether the foreign application for patent/registration has matured into a form of patent protection must be made. To determine the status of the foreign application, the charts in MPEP § 1504.02 should be used. If the foreign application for patent/registration has matured into a form of patent protection and would anticipate or render the claim in the alleged CIP application obvious, the design shown in the foreign application papers would qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(d)/172 and the claim should be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 . The claim for the benefit of the earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120 as a continuation-in-part should be denied and the claim for priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) should also be denied. Form paragraph 15.75 may be used.

¶ 15.75.fti    Preface to Rejection in Alleged CIP Based on pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d)/35 U.S.C.172

Reference to this design application as a continuation-in-part under 35 U.S.C. 120 is acknowledged. Applicant is advised that the design disclosed in the parent application is not the same design as the design disclosed in this application. Therefore, this application does not satisfy the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, under 35 U.S.C. 12035 U.S.C. 120 and is not entitled to benefit of the earlier filing date.

The parent application claimed foreign priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d). Insofar as the foreign application has matured into a patent/registration more than six months before the filing date of the present application, it qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d)/35 U.S.C. 172.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should be followed with a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) depending on the difference(s) between this claim and the design shown in the priority papers.

If the status of the foreign application cannot be determined the following form paragraph should be used instead.

¶ 15.75.01    C-I-P Caution, Claim to Foreign Priority in Earlier Filed Application

Reference to this application as a continuation-in-part under 35 U.S.C. 120 is acknowledged. Applicant is advised that the design disclosed in the parent application is not the same design as the design disclosed in this application. Therefore, this application does not satisfy the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, under 35 U.S.C. 120 and is not entitled to benefit of the earlier filing date.

However, unless the filing date of the earlier application is actually needed, such as to avoid intervening prior art, entitlement to priority in this CIP application will not be considered. See In re Corba, 212 USPQ 825 (Comm’r Pat. 1981).

The parent application claimed foreign priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d). Applicant is reminded that if the foreign application to which priority was claimed matured into a form of patent protection prior to the filing of this application it qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d)/35 U.S.C. 172 .

Where the conditions of 35 U.S.C. 120 are met, a design application may be considered a continuing application of an earlier utility application. Conversely, this also applies to a utility application relying on the benefit of the filing date of an earlier filed design application. See In re Chu, 66 F.3d 292, 36 USPQ2d 1089 (Fed. Cir. 1995); In re Salmon, 705 F.2d 1579, 217 USPQ 981 (Fed. Cir. 1983). In addition, a design application may claim benefit from an earlier filed PCT application under 35 U.S.C. 120 if the U.S. was designated in the PCT application.

Note also In re Berkman, 642 F.2d 427, 209 USPQ 45 (CCPA 1981) where the benefit of a design patent application filing date requested under 35 U.S.C. 120 was denied in the later filed utility application of the same inventor. The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals took the position that the design application did not satisfy 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, as required under 35 U.S.C. 120.

1504.30   Expedited Examination [R-11.2013]

37 C.F.R. 1.155   Expedited examination of design applications

  • (a) The applicant may request that the Office expedite the examination of a design application. To qualify for expedited examination.
    • (1) The application must include drawings in compliance with § 1.84;
    • (2) The applicant must have conducted a preexamination search; and
    • (3) The applicant must file a request for expedited examination including:
      • (i) The fee set forth in § 1.17(k); and
      • (ii) A statement that a preexamination search was conducted. The statement must also indicate the field of search and include an information disclosure statement in compliance with  § 1.98.
  • (b) The Office will not examine an application that is not in condition for examination (e.g, missing basic filing fee) even if the applicant files a request for expedited examination under this section.

37 CFR 1.155 establishes an expedited procedure for design applications. This expedited procedure became effective on September 8, 2000 and is available to all design applicants who first conduct a preliminary examination search and file a request for expedited treatment accompanied by the fee specified in 37 CFR 1.17(k). This expedited treatment is intended to fulfill a particular need by affording rapid design patent protection that may be especially important where marketplace conditions are such that new designs on articles are typically in vogue for limited periods of time.

A design application may qualify for expedited examination provided the following requirements are met:

  • (A) A request for expedited examination is filed (Form PTO/SB/27 may be used);
  • (B) The design application is complete and it includes drawings in compliance with 37 CFR 1.84 (see 37 CFR 1.154 and MPEP § 1503 concerning the requirements for a complete design application);
  • (C) A statement is filed indicating that a preexamination search was conducted (a search made by a foreign patent office satisfies this requirement). The statement must also include a list of the field of search such as by U.S. Class and Subclass (including domestic patent documents, foreign patent documents and nonpatent literature);
  • (D) An information disclosure statement in compliance with 37 CFR 1.98 is filed;
  • (E) The basic design application filing fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(b) is paid; and
  • (F) The fee for expedited examination set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(k) is paid.

  EXPEDITED EXAMINATION PROCEDURE

Design applications requesting expedited examination and complying with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.155 are examined with priority and undergo expedited processing throughout the entire course of prosecution in the Office, including appeal, if any, to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. All processing is expedited from the date the request is granted.

Design applicants seeking expedited examination may file a design application in the Office together with a corresponding request under 37 CFR 1.155 by hand-delivering the application papers and the request to the Customer Service Window located at the Randolph Building, 401 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For applicants who choose to file a design application and the corresponding request under 37 CFR 1.155 by mail, the envelope should be addressed to:

Mail Stop Expedited Design
Commissioner for Patents
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

Mail Stop Expedited Design should only be used for the initial filing of design applications accompanied by a corresponding request for expedited examination under 37 CFR 1.155. Mail Stop Expedited Design should NOT be used for a request under 37 CFR 1.155 filed subsequent to the filing of the corresponding design application. Instead, a subsequently filed request under 37 CFR 1.155 should be made by facsimile transmission to the centralized facsimile number 571-273-8300 with the notation “SPECIAL PROCEDURES SUBMISSION” included at the top of the first page and the corresponding application number identified.

Design application filings addressed to Mail Stop Expedited Design will be forwarded immediately to the Design TC Director’s office. Whether an application requesting expedited examination is hand-delivered to the Customer Service Window or mailed to Mail Stop Expedited Design, expedited processing is initiated at the Design TC Director’s office provided the application (including the design application filing fee) is in condition for examination and a complete request under 37 CFR 1.155 (including the fee specified at 37 CFR 1.17(k)) qualifies the application for expedited examination.

Upon a decision by the Design TC Director to grant the request for expedited examination, the fees are immediately processed, the application papers are promptly assigned an application number, and the application is dispatched to an examiner for expedited examination. In addition, the applicant is notified that examination is being expedited. The expedited treatment under 37 CFR 1.155 occurs through initial examination processing and throughout the entire prosecution in the Office. Whereas, an application granted special status pursuant to a successful “petition to make special” under  MPEP § 708.02 is prioritized while it is on the examiner’s docket so that the application will be examined out of turn responsive to each successive communication from the applicant requiring Office action. For a patentable design application, the expedited treatment under 37 CFR 1.155 would be a streamlined filing-to-issuance procedure. This procedure further expedites design application processing by decreasing clerical processing time as well as the time spent routing the application between processing steps.

Although a request under 37 CFR 1.155 may be filed subsequent to the filing of the design application, it is recommended that the request and the corresponding design application be filed together in order to optimize expeditious processing.

If an application requesting expedited examination is incomplete (not in condition for examination), an appropriate notice will be mailed to the applicant identifying the reasons why the application is incomplete and requiring correction thereof. The Office will not examine an application that is not in condition for examination even if the applicant files a request for expedited examination.

If an application requesting expedited examination fails to comply with one or more of the requirements for expedited examination under 37 CFR 1.155, but the application is otherwise complete, the applicant will be promptly notified and required to comply with all requirements under 37 CFR 1.155 within a shortened time period extendable under 37 CFR 1.136(a). Unless all requirements under 37 CFR 1.155 are timely met, the application will await action in its regular turn.

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Last Modified: 03/27/2014 10:10:33