March 4, 2022
Dashed Lines Broaden the Scope of a Design Patent, But this is Ridiculous
On September 14, 2021, U.S. Patent No. D930702, a design patent on a Display Screen Portion with Animated Graphical User Interface, was issued to Wepay Global Payments LLC. The design patent covers two embodiments: The first embodiment consists of Figs. 1 and 2:
The second embodiment consists of Figs. 3 – 5:
Within weeks of the patent issuance, Wepay sued PNC Bank NA. A month later, Wepay sued PayPal Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Last month, Wepay sued JPMorgan Chase Bank NA and Bank of America NA. Then last week, Wepay sued Apple (6:22-cv-00223 in W.D.Texas), Amazon (1:22-cv-01061 in N.D. Ill), Tesla (W.D. Texas), Walmart Stores Inc (1:22-cv-01062 in N.D. Ill.))., and McDonald’s Corp. (1:22-cv-01064 in N.D. Ill.).
With the patent’s liberal use of dashed lines, it appears that Figs. 1 and 3 cover any screen with a QR code finder pattern, indicated by the three black squares in three corners of the QR code. Figs. 2 and 5 further cover any screen with the figure “$0.00.” Fig. 4, oddly enough, covers any screen, with or without content.
Since QR codes have been around since 1994, and dollar signs even longer (since the late 18th century), it seems unlikely that this pattern did not appear on an app displays before the September 3, 2020 filing date of the ‘702 patent.
Wepay is asserting the ‘702 to its broadest extent. Looking, for example at the complaint against Apple,
- Wepay asserts that Fig. 3 covers the appearance of a QR icon anywhere on a screen.
- Wepay asserts that Fig. 4 covers any screen.
- Wepay asserts that Fig. 5 covers the appearance of any screen with the text “$0.00”