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Expound the law by analyzing a case - design protects concrete design rather than abstract concept

In the case of invalidation of design patent, we will encounter such a situation that the evidence provided is completely consistent with the basic structure of the appearance of the patent involved, but the invalidation decision maintains the validity of the patent. Let's analyze the case below.

 

Brief introduction of the case:

 

This case is that company A requests for invalidation against company B for the design patent no. 201530363046.5. On May 21, 2021, the CNIPA made a decision [1] and finally maintained the validity of the patent involved .

 

In the invalidation request, A submitted a total of 9 groups of evidence, and held that the patent involved was not significantly different from the existing design on the grounds of article 23 (2) of the Patent Law. The main evidence is 1-3, and its comparison with the main view of the patent involved is as follows:

 

The Left-side View and Perspective View of the patent involved:

The Left-side View and Perspective View of Evidence 1:

The Left-side View and Perspective View of Evidence 2:

The Left-side View and Perspective View of Evidence 3:

By comparison, it is confirmed in the written decision that, compared with evidence 1-3, the patents involved in the case have the following similarities: they all include earplug head, anterior voice cavity, posterior voice cavity, wire protector and wire.The main differences are :(1) the contour of earplug head is different, and the patent involved has obvious dividing line;(2) The shape of the anterior cavity is different, and the patent involved is thinner;(3) The size of the cavity proportion is different;(4) The design of the wire protector is different from that of the wire. The patent involved is downwards from the side of the back voice cavity, which is similar to the shape of "9".  And the CNIPA thought that the above mentioned differences made the patent involved distinguishable from evidence 1-3, and made the final decision to maintain the validity of the patent involved

 

Case interpretation

 

As it can be seen from the above written decision, the overall structure of a product is determined by its function that its basic structure includes several components, so it cannot be deemed that the patent involved is not significantly different from the existing design, and the appearance design protects the concrete design rather than the abstract concept. When the basic structure is the same, we should start with the specific design characteristics of each component, and observe the appearance of each component as a whole so as to make comparison.In this case, the basic structure of earphone includes earplug head, front voice cavity, back voice cavity, wire protector and wire, but the shapes and details of each part can be designed in a variety of ways. The only similarity between the patent involved in the case and evidence 1-3 is that the basic structure is basically the same, but each part of the basic structure has obvious differences. These differences make each earphone form its own style and visual impression, which has a significant impact on the overall visual effect. Therefore, the CNIPA finally determined that the patent involved is in accordance with the provisions of Article 23 (2) relative to evidence 1-3, and maintained the validity of the patent right.  


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