Grüneberg and Myers - Intellectual Property Law


News and Recent Developments

Fed. Cir. Analysis of Design Patent Claim Solely 2-Dimensional

The Fed. Cir. (In re Maatita) reversed the Board’s affirmance of the Examiner’s rejection of a design patent as non-enabled and indefinite.  Design applicant’s claim to an athletic shoe bottom was depicted in a single, two-dimensional plan-view drawing.  The Board concluded that “because the single view does not adequately reveal the relative depths and three dimensionality between the surfaces provided, the Specification does not reveal enough detail to enable the claimed shoe bottom, under 35 U.S.C. § 112, first paragraph,” and that “[t]he same lack of clarity and detail also makes the scope of the claim indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, second paragraph.”  Noting that a visual disclosure may be inadequate—and its associated claim indefinite—if it includes multiple, internally inconsistent drawings, there were no inconsistencies in the drawings of between the drawings and the verbal description.  Where the sufficiency of a disclosure for purposes of § 112 depends on whether a drawing adequately discloses the design of an article, the Fed. Cir. noted that the level of detail required should be a function of whether the claimed design for the article is capable of being defined by a two-dimensional, plan- or planar view illustration.  The design for an entire shoe or teapot, for instance, is inherently three-dimensional and could not be adequately disclosed with a single, plan- or planar view drawing.  The design of a rug or placemat, on the other hand, is capable of being viewed and understood in two-dimensions through a plan- or planar-view illustration, which clearly defines the proper perspective.

Richard Chinn