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DesignPatentExample

Detail of an Issued Design Patent

Design patents are a type of patent issued under United States of America law. (Other locations have similar protections but they are called different things.) The patent is granted based on the unique appearance or concept of an item rather than its "usefulness". Design patents typically are sought for items where the appearance is as - or more - important than the underlying craftsmanship itself. So, things like jewelry, toys, furniture, car parts, etc. are frequently granted design patents.

Design patents have a life in the US of fourteen years from the date of issuance. Their main usefulness is as a supplement to copyright protections. Whereas someone claiming a copyright in a work can prevent actual copies being made, a design patent can more easily be used to prevent the unauthorized creation of similar items which are not actually copies. Neither protection is absolute, but some counsel believe that having both is important where even the hint of similar design is a threat to the value of the original design.

From 1978 through 1987, Paramount Pictures sought and obtained various design patents for Star Trek designs. There seem to have been no other filings after 1987, and Paramount's legal department instead probably feels comfortable with existing copyright protections.

In each instance of a design patent at least one "inventor" has to be listed. The inventor can never be the corporation, it has to be an individual or individuals. It is sometimes interesting to see who gets credit for what on the official documents.
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Did You Know that Michael Dorn is the only actor to appear as a series regular in two Star Trek spin-offs, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?

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Today in Trek history

Today is
Tuesday
May 2015
1929
Patrick Horgan is born.
1933
Eric Kotani is born.
1963
Musetta Vander is born.
1964
Michael Cuneo is born.
1966
Third day of filming on TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver".
Final script draft for TOS: "Mudd's Women" is submitted.
1967
Kelly Port is born.
Sixth day of filming on TOS: "Friday's Child". Location scenes at Vasquez Rocks are filmed today.
Second revised final draft script for TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is submitted.
1970
Yoshi Jenkins is born.
1973
The Thirty-Fifth UK Story Arc continues in Valiant & TV21 #87 with the fourteenth of seventeen installments.
1980
Franz Bachelin dies.
1987
First rehearsal day for TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint".
1994
Forty-third day of filming on Star Trek Generations.
1998
Fortieth day of filming on Star Trek: Insurrection.
1999
DS9: "The Dogs of War" airs.
VOY: "Equinox" airs.
2001
Anne Haney dies.
2004
ENT: "Zero Hour" airs.
2009
Pocket TOS novel Troublesome Minds, by Dave Galanter, is released.

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