Orange, CA asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for California

Q: Hello, do product patents cover all similar designs or just the design of the patented item?

If there was a company that has a device, can you make an attachment to that device that the company makes, but make it look different by slightly altering the model, changing it from the patented item?

1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: The focus needs to be on the patent claims. Not the title of the patent. Not the drawings. Not the abstract. Not the details in the specification. You cannot make something that has all the nouns, verbs, and other requirements that exist in an independent claim in a patent. Some claims are dependent claims that reference another claim and add another limitation. To infringe a dependent claim you have to infringe an independent claim and have the details of the dependent claim too.

Unfortunately, reading patent claims to sort out the precise edge of coverage is difficult. But you may see that the focus of the patent claims is some special feature that you do not plan to have.

A patent attorney can help you with a close call.

If you found this answer helpful, you may want to look at my answers to other questions about patent law are available at the bottom of my profile page at

Kevin E Flynn

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