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I want to protect the intellectual property of a design for a certificate (diploma) that is non-trivial and distinctive. Most of the distinctiveness of the design comes from the position of the different elements such as the title, a certificate id and a seal. All of these elements are variable. For example, the title can be any word, the id can be any number, etc.

I thought the Design Patent was the way forward, but after creating the drawing, I realized that most of the elements are dashed, as I am not claiming that particular element but the position in the document.

Do you know if a document layout can be protected by a design patent (community design, etc), or do you have examples of design patents granted on document layouts?

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Yes, a document layout can be protected by a design patent.

Can refer these patents: USD57233 and USD42128

However, since you talk about variables (of information and of relative position of elements), I presume implementation is feasible if the design is IT based. Design patent can be valid for a particular design and there is no scope for varying positions of elements and changing information. Doing so will usher in an altogether new design which will not be protected by IP right conferred to a particular design.

Am of opinion that US20090055722A1 (abandoned)and US7209889 (Granted to Henry Whitfield) can also be useful for you and may inspire you to consider going for utility patent too. These patent applications teach about variable information and are related to certificate design implemented on IT.

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    It isn't clear how or why you consider the abandoned utility application or US7209889 to be at all relevant. Perhaps you could elaborate? – Eric Shain Aug 25 '18 at 15:42
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    Victor talks about variables. I presume implementation is feasible if the design is IT based. As mentioned in my answer, design patent can be valid for a particular design and there is no scope for varying positions of elements and changing information. Doing so will usher in an altogether new design which will not be protected by IP right conferred to a particular design. The patent applications mentioned taught about variable information and related to certificate design implemented on IT. The motto behind my suggestion was "Idea breeds ideas". – AD Adhikary Aug 26 '18 at 2:43
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    It would be best to augment the answer rather than leave relevant info in a comment. Also it is cleaner to use the link feature for providing links to the patents (as I did for US7209889). – Eric Shain Aug 26 '18 at 14:07
  • @Eric Shain. Tried as suggested. Thanks for educative example. – AD Adhikary Aug 27 '18 at 1:12
  • Earned a +1 from me! – Eric Shain Aug 27 '18 at 21:44

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