Thursday, February 12, 2015

Oh, patents! The Squatchi

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Squatchi Inc. patent, USD 704080 S1, titled Home shoe-sizer for children is a design patent. (You probably noticed the letter “D” in the patent reference number).  

A design patent protects the way an object “looks”, it’s visual and ornamental properties. In contrast, a utility patent protects the functionality of an object, how it works or how it is used. It follows that objects can be protected with both design and utility patents providing all conditions of patentability are fulfilled in each case -- even for a single object like several of Frank Ghery’s chairs (see this previous post on the differences between design and utility patents).

For the present case of a shoe-sizer, such an object may be protected for the way it looks, like the brightly colored Squatchi, designed for use at home to measure children’s shoe sizes. And a shoe-sizer may be patented for the functions it performs like the Shoe-sizer patent US1252920 A that was granted in 1918, for all the patentable improvements that it offered, in particular a sliding block to improve measurement accuracy.

There are many additional important differences between utility and design patents, outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations CFR 37, especially in terms of form.  For example, a design patent only contains figure drawings and a single claim, whereas utility patents contain a much more detailed and structured description of the invention, that may run several hundred pages.

 Below, to the left, you will find a Squatchi USD 704080 S1 patent drawing, and above an image of the real marketed product. The figure drawings of patent US1252920  titled  Shoe-sizer, granted 1918….with its block slide for more accurate measurements are included below to the right. The image of marketed block slide shoe sizer is also included above.

Just short of 100 years between the Squatchi and the block-slide shoe sizer!... 

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