What is a partial design?
A partial design is a form of a design registration focusing only on a unique part of a certain design.
How effective is this system?
Similarity of designs is judged based on the whole shape of designs. Even if parts of a design seem to be identical, both designs may be determined to be dissimilar if the overall impression of a design differs from another design. Thus, a third party might have the possibility to imitate a unique part of a design while creating other parts being different. The partial design system is useful to prevent imitating products because a mere unique part of a whole design is protected.
How to apply for a partial design?
If drawings are depicted by solid lines only, it is not possible to change an entire design application into a “partial design” application after filing of the application.
In addition, in the drawings, the part of the design for which protection is sought shall be shown in solid lines and the environment or surrounding area shall be shown in broken or dashed lines.
Alternatively, the part of the design for which protection is sought may be shown in different colors in order to identify protected and non-protected parts.
Although the part of design for which protection is sought does not appear in some of the views, the submission of six views may still be necessary. The following example is a design for a “lamp bulb”. Even though the partial design does not appear in the top view, all views are required:
Partial design based on a priority design application
In case where a priority application seeks protection only for a specific part within the whole shape, it is possible to claim the priority right. As long as the protected part is clearly indicated and distinguished from the other part for which protection is not sought, it is possible to use the “Partial Design”, regardless of how the part is indicated in the priority application, e.g. by manner of lines or color parts.
Are there any disadvantages of the partial design?
The chances for a successful registration may be lower than those for entire design applications (whole design applications) because the Examiner only compares the unique part of the partial design to prior publicly known designs.
For example, the Examiner may cite the following design against the above design application for a table because the shape of the legs are excluded from the partial design application and do not affect similarity/dissimilarity of the two designs:
Thus, depending on the shape of the protected part, the design should be filed as an entire design application or as a partial design application.