Design Patent Applications - When You Should File One
Does your product have an innovative appearance? Talk to an expert about filing a design patent application today.
Know When to File Design Patent Applications
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If you’re an inventor, artist, or designer, you may need to file design patent applications to protect your intellectual property.
It helps to understand what a design patent protects. You may also have other questions, such as:
1. When do I need to file a design patent?
2. How are utility patent applications and design patent applications different?
3. How can I file a design patent?
The Patent Professor® is here to help with everything you need to know about protecting your designs.
What Is a Design Patent?
A design patent protects the ornamental or visual features of an invention or decorative object. It does not protect the elements related to how an invention or an article of manufacture works; a design patent only protects how an item looks.
The types of ideas that may be eligible for design patents include:
Once you’ve secured a design patent for your invention or decorative object, other individuals or organizations can not make or sell items that use the same design. If they do, they might face legal action, and you could be eligible to collect damages for their patent infringement.
What Are the Differences Between Design and Utility Patents?
A design patent protects someone from copying how an object looks. A utility patent protects the unique characteristics related to the way an invention works.
For instance, a design patent protects a unique bezel on a flatscreen television. A utility patent protects the LED technology that creates the images on the TV.
There’s another big difference between design and utility patents.
Do You Need to File a Provisional Patent Before Filing a Design Patent?
You may not need to file a provisional patent application before filing for a design patent. That's because design patent applications are streamlined and not difficult to file.
It also doesn't take as long to have design patent applications approved. With a short time between your filing date and your patent approval, you don't need to secure your intellectual property as "patent pending" before filing design patent applications.
On the other hand, a provisional patent application can protect your invention with "patent pending" status during the lengthy process of applying for a non provisional utility patent.
A provisional patent application protects both the function and the design of your invention as you await approval of your utility patent application. But you need to file a design patent application to protect the item's design once the provisional patent expires.
What Is Needed for a Design Patent?
A design patent application is less extensive than a utility patent application. However, you want to make sure you have all the necessary components to help prevent delays and encourage a quick approval of your patent.
To file a design patent, you’ll need:
It helps to rely on the expertise of patent attorneys to ensure you have all the proper paperwork in the correct format to file design patent applications successfully.
One Design Per Claim
When you file design patent applications, be sure you're filing as many applications as necessary. Each item must have a separate design patent application. Similarly, each distinct design needs a separate patent application and claim.
However, if you're patenting design concepts with only minor differences – such as the color or a single design characteristic – you may put them under the same design patent application.
Do Design Patent Applications Require a Patentability Search Before Filing?
You don't need to conduct a patentability search prior to filing design patent applications. In fact, you don't need a patentability search for utility patent applications, either.
But you may want to spend the time to conduct a patentability search to ensure your design does not mimic prior art. In legal terms, prior art refers to existing designs that look the same as the design you hope to patent.
The Patent Professor® can conduct a patentability search and help you alter your design if our patent law experts discover prior art that could interfere with your securing a design patent.
Design Patent Application Process: How Do I Apply for a Design Patent?
Once you’ve conducted your patentability search and gathered all the materials necessary to file your design patent application, apply for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The drawings or photographs of your design represent the most critical aspect of your patent application. Drawings and photographs showcase what sets your design apart from others, establishing it as an innovation in your field.
Make sure each drawing or photograph:
In a patent drawing or photograph, broken lines show unclaimed material, or parts of the design you aren’t trying to patent. Solid lines, on the other hand, represent the unique elements of your design, which may be patentable.
For instance, the rectangular shape of an LED TV may not be patentable. It could be represented by broken lines. On the other hand, the decorative legs of the TV stand may be patentable material and represented by solid lines.
However, a curved LED TV screen represents an industry innovation. It may be represented by solid lines if a company is looking to secure a patent for that specific design element.
What Items Can and Can't Be Protected with a Design Patent?
A design patent will not protect features related to the functionality of your item of manufacture, software, hardware, or other patentable idea.
If the invention’s design is driven primarily by its use, the design patent application may be rejected. That means the article of manufacture does not have an innovative, unique, or distinctive shape that is separate from its function.
However, a purely ornamental item may apply for – and receive – a design patent.
Similarly, you can receive design patents to protect:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) says you cannot patent:
Get Expert Help When You File a Design Patent
However, you can rely on the expertise of The Patent Professor® to help increase the odds of securing the patent for your innovative design.