There have been recent patent fights (such as Apple v. Samsung) that seem to claim certain basic physical forms of devices, such as a smartphone, can be patented. Aren't there a limited number of possible shapes possible? Does patent law allow one company to own a simple shape such as a rectangle with rounded corners for a type of machine?

1 Answer 1


This is a specific type of US patent filing. It relates to the underlying form and style of the device. Apple said that a 'white rectangle' with 'large borders/margins' and 'curved corners' was their 'signature' design features for a 'flat tablet' computer device. The jury agreed (very strongly).

I personally don't agree this type of patent should be used so broadly, or provide protection that strong. That said, the Apple court argument does have some merit.

The British / Common Law approach, providing protection against "Passing Off", is (IMHO) a much better approach. This protects anyone (even without specific 'design' patent filing) from a product (particular an inferior one) from being too close in exact appearance.

I hope (in the Apple / Samsung case) the jury finding is overturned or weakened on appeal, to be closer to "Passing Off" protection, and simply requiring Samsung to diverge enough in their design.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .