A parent of a high school theater student asked whether I would speak with the Theater Technology teacher about patenting a device that the teacher had invented for making backdrops for theater productions, such as musicals. The device is referred to as a paint frame. Of course, paint frames are generally well-known devices. However, the paint frame invented by the Theater Technology teacher was unique in its modularity and lightweight, yet rigid, construction. Working closely with the teacher/inventor, we developed a complete technical disclosure of the modular paint frame and a detailed description of how to make and use the paint frame.
The detailed description supported patent claims directed to the paint frame itself in an assembled configuration and to a kit of components that a third party could use to assemble a paint frame on-site in a theater. The emphasis on claims directed to a kit of components reflected the reality that these paint frames are so large that no competitor would ever sell one in an assembled configuration, but rather would sell a kit of components along with a set of instructions for assembling the paint frame.
Working with the Patent Examiner assigned to the patent application, it was determined that the paint frame was patentable due to the way the paint frame components could be assembled and used in cooperation with a wire rope for suspending, raising, and lowering the paint frame toward the back of the stage. This was viewed as an essential feature for a paint frame used in a theater production and distinguished the paint frame from prior art paint frames.