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Detail of an Issued Design Patent

Design patents are a type of patent issued under United States of America law. (Other locations have similar protections but they are called different things.) The patent is granted based on the unique appearance or concept of an item rather than its "usefulness". Design patents typically are sought for items where the appearance is as - or more - important than the underlying craftsmanship itself. So, things like jewelry, toys, furniture, car parts, etc. are frequently granted design patents.

Design patents have a life in the US of fourteen years from the date of issuance. Their main usefulness is as a supplement to copyright protections. Whereas someone claiming a copyright in a work can prevent actual copies being made, a design patent can more easily be used to prevent the unauthorized creation of similar items which are not actually copies. Neither protection is absolute, but some counsel believe that having both is important where even the hint of similar design is a threat to the value of the original design.

From 1978 through 1987, Paramount Pictures sought and obtained various design patents for Star Trek designs. There seem to have been no other filings after 1987, and Paramount's legal department instead probably feels comfortable with existing copyright protections.

In each instance of a design patent at least one "inventor" has to be listed. The inventor can never be the corporation, it has to be an individual or individuals. It is sometimes interesting to see who gets credit for what on the official documents.
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Did You Know that John Billingsley tried to get his wife Bonita Friedericy a role on Star Trek: Enterprise as one of his character's wives, but was unsuccessful? She did appear as Rooney, a Human scientist, in "Regeneration" though.


Today in Trek history

Today is
Aug 2014
Oliver McGowan is born.
Lois Hall is born.
Brian Sterling is born.
First day of filming on TOS: "Miri".
Sickbay scenes are filmed for TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles".
First draft script for TOS: "Journey to Babel" is submitted.
First day of filming on TOS: "Day of the Dove".
Story outline submitted for the undeveloped Original Series episode "The Forseeable Future" by Jean Lisette Aroeste.
The Fifteenth UK Story Arc continues in TV21 & Joe 90 #48 with the fourth of seven installments.
Ryan Honey is born.
Twelveth day of filming on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Sixth day of filming on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Bridge scenes are filmed today.
Fifth day of filming on TNG: "Disaster".
CIC Video releases Next Generation volume 86 and Deep Space Nine volume 20 on VHS in the UK.
Second day of filming on VOY: "Tattoo".
CIC Video releases The Original Series volume 2.9, Deep Space Nine volume 5.10 and Voyager volume 3.10 on VHS in the UK.
Sixth day of filming on VOY: "Inside Man". Location filming at Leo Carrillo State Beach are filmed today.
Second day of filming on ENT: "Marauders".
Third day of filming on ENT: "Exile".

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Film XI



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