It’s beginning to look a lot like christmas, mind your patent claim!

jueves, 31 de diciembre de 2020

If you read the title singing like Michel Bublé you got it right, not even a worldwide pandemic can take your Christmas hype and feeling away. You don’t have to be a child to dream about the festive season and everything that comes with it, but they are, of course, the main aim of the holiday with Santa being responsible for meeting expectations, meaning of course toys and games.

Every year the market is nourished with new playthings that have gone through an extensive process of development and testing before they get to the stores. Every step takes lots of effort and must be tackled consciously, in order to properly achieve economic success, from conception of the idea to point of sale.
Growing up and specialising in the field of patent applications has given me another perspective on games, toys and dolls: seeing how crucial it is to protect ideas and intangibles with not only a brand but, a good patent, to protect them over their lifetime.

Contrary to what you might think, it is quite common for inventors to want to give it a go and attempt to draft and file patent applications on their own. This could be compared to removing your own appendix with a YouTube tutorial; the former perhaps being less bloody, but both leading to quite regrettable outcomes! It is better to be safe than sorry-after all that effort no one wants an useless patent!

Expert drafting of a patent application is essential, not only technically but legally. Those experienced in this field will be aware that patent claims are challenging writing a claim is difficult and must comply with a specific format, whilst maintaining the balance between disclosing the necessary information and protecting your invention. No matter how skilled an amateur patent applicant is in his or her own area of expertise, rights achieved through self-drafted patent application may be too narrow and consequently useless in a prosecution.

Just one preposition could completely change the circumstances. For example, there was a patent owned by Chet America Inc. whose claim said, “process for baking dough by ‘heating the... dough to a temperature in the range of about 400 degrees F to a 850 degrees F.’”. The specification had two examples, each stating that the dough product is placed in a multi-layer convection oven and baked “at temperatures” or “at a temperature” of 680º F to 850º F. The court considered that construed claim meant temperature of dough and therefore there was no infringement. The lesson here is that, when drafting patent claims, you have to be careful and avoid statements that impose limitation on scope of invention: claim terms have to be defined broadly and consistently.
So, it is vital to get the best advice your budget allows and obtain a strong and enforceable claim, which would withstand validity challenges and be difficult to design around to achieve non-infringement.

Finally, as I am in this Christmassy mood, I would like to propose a game! I am giving you five of the most iconic toy patents’ abstract or main claim so that you can guess which patent it corresponds to. Let’s give it a go! (Answer sat the bottom of the page)

  1. For this first one, I am giving you the title “SPATIAL LOGICAL TOY”, which is formed from a total of eighteen toy elements, out of which two sets of eight identical toy elements and two connecting elements are provided. The elements of the two sets have cam members with hollows with spherical convex or concave surfaces in-between. The element are connected by the aid of the cams and the two remaining centrally positioned substantially identical connecting elements each having a T-shape cross-section and when assembled the toy is in the form of a regular or an irregular solid. Fixation is performed by one single screw passing through bores in the connection elements. In such a manner the toy elements forming the lateral faces of the spatial logical toy can be rotated along the spatial axes and by yielding several variation possibilities the toy is well suitable for simulating logical thinking activity.

  2. An aerodynamic toy comprising: a circular central portion having a center surrounded by a substantially flat circular surface area whose boundary is defined by a predetermined radius; a rim circumscribing the circular central portion; a surface of curvature extending from said boundary and curving downwardly to a point of juncture with said rim to form an upper convex surface and a lower concave surface of the toy; and air flow spoiling means located on the convex surface of curvature and extending substantially from said boundary to the point of juncture at the rim, said spoiling means comprising a plurality of concentric circular raised ribs being concentric about said center.

  3. In a toy building set, a hollow building block of rectangular parallel piped shape comprising a bottom and four side walls, at least four cylindrical projections extending normally outwardly from said bottom and arranged in two rows of opposed projections to define a square, a tubular projection extending normally from the inner face of said bottom, and parallel to said side walls, the longitudinal axis of said tubular projection passing through the center of said square, and the peripheries of said cylindrical projections contacting said tubular projection and at least one side wall when said peripheries are geometrically projected normally to said bottom, whereby the cylindrical projections on one of said blocks may be inserted into clamping engagement with a tubular projection and a wall of another of said blocks.

  4. A reconfigurable toy assemble having foldable portions to allow the toy assembly to simulate a toy combination vehicle having a tractor unit and trailer unit separately connected to each other. The tractor unit when separated from the trailer unit is reversible reconfigurable into a robotic humanoid form, while the trailer unit is reversible reconfigurable into a play space for the robotic humanoid.

  5. Our invention is an improved construction of the toy commonly called a bandelore, and consist in forming the same of two disks of metal, couple together at their centers by means of a clutch and rivet in the manner following. (...) We claim herein as new and of our invention- The disk A, B, united at their centres by the rivet F, and interlocking bosses E, substantially as set forth.

Find the answers here.

Hopefully, my article and quiz has provided you with some amusement and, more importantly, helped you get into the proper mindset and encouraged you to get the best legal assistance to protect your patents!

Written by Belén Tomás Acosta