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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.
– from Memory Alpha's Featured Articles (more)

Did You Know that the USS Stargazer was originally going to be a Constitution-class starship before Andrew Probert and Rick Sternbach persuaded the producers to build a new miniature? A filmed segment already had Geordi La Forge saying "Constitution-class," so they simply re-dubbed it with "Constellation-class," which has almost identical lip movements.


Today in Trek history

Today is
Majel Barrett is born.
Rees Vaughn is born.
Richard Keith Singleton is born.
TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon" airs.
TOS: "By Any Other Name" airs.
Alexander Denk is born.
Craig Hurley is born.
Heather Young is born.
Musical score for TNG: "The Offspring" is recorded.
Sixth day of filming on DS9: "Progress".
Third day of filming on TNG: "Emergence".
Third day of filming on DS9: "The Maquis, Part II".
Fifth day of filming on DS9: "The Reckoning".
Fourth day of filming on VOY: "One".
VOY: "Spirit Folk" airs.
Seventh day of filming on VOY: "Life Line".
Eighth and final day of filming on VOY: "Natural Law".
Seventh and final day of filming on ENT: "The Council".
Sixth day of filming on ENT: "Terra Prime".
Remastered version of TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!" airs.
Thirtieth day of filming on Star Trek Into Darkness. Spock and Khan's fight scenes are filmed on location at Marina Del Rey, California.
Unknown year
Alma Yvonne Dixon is born.
Julianne Grossman is born.

Production timeline

Studio models





Unused production material

Deleted material

Unused material

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