What is a Design Patent?
While most companies know the basic use and benefits of utility patents, which are meant to protect the technical elements and use of specific intellectual property, fewer businesses take advantage of design patents. Design patents protect the ornamental elements and appearance of a functional item. Although it may seem less important to protect the way your product looks than the way it works, much of a product’s value comes from aesthetic appeal. A design patent allows you to protect this value.
Because design patents are technically complex in a different way than utility patents, they are very difficult to file and require a lawyer with a specific skillset. Priori is committed to helping you find the best-qualified design patent lawyer in our network to work with your design team and successfully file your design patent.
Getting a Design Patent Approved
When you want to get a design patent approved, the design patent must satisfy the following key requirements:
It is new. This means that no single identical design exists in prior art. This judgment is made by another designer or an expert. In the case of design patents, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office conducts a prior-art search before issuing a design patent.
It is ornamental. The design elements being patented serve no particular utilitarian use and are considered artwork created for its own sake.
It is original to the designer seeking protection. This must be your company’s art.
If you meet these qualifications and follow the correct filing process, the USPTO will issue you a design patent that will protect your artwork for 14 years.
The Difference Between Utility Patents and Design Patents
Many professionals find it difficult to determine when a design patent is appropriate versus when a utility patent is a better choice for protecting their intellectual property. This is understandable as the utility and ornamentality of an invention are not always easy to separate, yet both patents provide unique types of protection. If your competitive advantage centers around the unique design of a fairly well-established technology, you could not secure a utility patent, as your invention does not change the use of the technology. You could, however, still protect your intellectual property through a design patent. For people selling personal or household goods, like furniture, design patents can be vital to the security of their intellectual property.
Increasing the Protection of Your Utility Patent By Pairing It with a Design Patent
In many cases, innovative intellectual property has both important functional and ornamental characteristics. In these cases, you might consider applying for both a design and a utility patent for the same product. It’s not necessary to choose between the two. In many industries, this is standard practice. A single iconic car may be the result of both patented design and technology, for example. The key aspect in either patent is simply that the intellectual property be unique. If part of the reason that people choose your product is the way it looks, as well as the way it works, these two separate patents can work together to protect your intellectual property .
It is important to note that in certain cases, a design element may require a utility patent, if the design serves a vital utility function, such as for ergonomics. An experienced design patent lawyer will be able to guide you on these issues.
Through Priori’s vetted network, design patents typically cost from $900 to $2,000. In order to get a better sense of cost for your particular situation, put in a request to schedule a complimentary consultation and receive a free price quote from one of our lawyers.
How long does it take to file a design patent?
When filed correctly, the USPTO typically issues a design patent within 12 months of the date of filing. Working with an experienced design patent lawyer will ensure an efficient and successful filing.
What does a design patent protect against?
When you protect your product with a design patent, no other business can make, use, or sell a product that looks similarly enough to the patented product that an "ordinary observer" might purchase it, thinking it is your patented product. This ordinary observer is considered to be your average consumer, not necessarily an expert, which gives your intellectual property a great deal of protection. If you have a design patent and another product is infringing on your design patent, you have the right to seek damages and to have the court stop sales of the copy.