Design Patent Claim Construction: Navigating Written Description, Ornamentality, Functionality and More

Drafting Claims to Withstand Scrutiny and Avoiding Claim Limitation Attack

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, August 10, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to counsel for defining design patent claims. The panel will examine recent court treatment of claim construction issues and offer approaches for design patent claim construction and drafting.


By definition, design patents protect ornamental designs. The standard for determining whether a design or design feature is ornamental—and what effect that determination has—remains unsettled. Unlike utility patents, design patent applications are not published when the applicant files directly with the USPTO.

Further, the application’s prosecution history is not publicly available until the application issues unless it is a divisional or continuation application. Consequently, less information is available about design patent applications until the applications issue.

Counsel must find the proper balance when claiming designs. Applicants will often use portion claiming techniques, which helps protect the innovative portions of a design while making it more difficult to “design around” the patent. However, it may also make it harder to get the patent because it is more susceptible to the prior art.

In light of recent design patent decisions, including the Federal Circuit’s decision in Sport Dimension (2016), counsel should consider filing applications with multiple embodiments or filing multiple applications for a design concept with different degrees of scope.

Listen as our authoritative panel of patent attorneys examines key considerations when defining and drafting design patent claims and discusses how the courts are treating claim construction issues for design patents.



  1. Key considerations
    1. Portion claiming
    2. Divisional filings
    3. Ornamentality and functionality
    4. Written description
  2. Court treatment
    1. Sport Dimension Inc. v. The Coleman Co. Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2016)
    2. Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. v. Covidien Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2015)
    3. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. v. Apple Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2015)


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What key considerations should counsel keep in mind in design patent drafting?
  • What steps should counsel to patent owners take to factor out functional aspects during claim construction?
  • What guidance can be drawn from recent court decisions for design patent claim construction?


Carani, Christopher
Christopher V. Carani

McAndrews Held & Malloy

Mr. Carani is nationally recognized in the field of design law, regarding the protection and enforcement of product...  |  Read More

Katz, Robert
Robert S. Katz, Esq.

Banner & Witcoff

In his practice, Mr. Katz has helped procure over 6,000 design patents in the U.S. and over 18,000 design...  |  Read More

Nathan B. Sabri
Nathan B. Sabri

Morrison & Foerster

Mr. Sabri practices in the firm’s Intellectual Property Group. He focuses his practice on litigation, and has...  |  Read More

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