Much of the success of Apple products can be traced to Apple’s emphasis on design as being equal or greater than the technical advancement of its products.  Talking with a product designer the other day, we both remarked on how often companies do the opposite of Apple – they care more about getting a new product to market than spending the time and resources on getting the design right.

The value that Apple places on design shows in its prolific filings of design patents, which they file not only for the shape of the product but also even the graphic icons. Apple was granted a patent (D671,558) in November 2012 for this graphic icon on a display screen:

Do you recognize it?

The broken lines around the figure indicate portions of a display screen and the lines form no part of the claimed design.

The standard of review for determining whether a design is patentable is whether the ornamental configuration is novel and nonobvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, namely a designer of similar products.

I know we have some talented designers among our readers, so based on that patentability standard should this later filed Samsung design be patentable?   Again, only the solid lines form the claimed design.  Is it novel and nonobvious?

And while we’re at it, let’s talk trademark significance. Without the names of the companies, do either of these images icons indicate source to you?  I’m not sure that either of these function as a trademark.

I would not be surprised if the icons and other design patents come into play as Apple and Samsung continue to battle over their patent portfolios and failed again to come to a resolution of their ongoing patent dispute.