Design Patents: Everything You Need to Know about Design Patent Protection

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There are three primary kinds of non-provisional patent applications considered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The first concerns unique plant species. The second patent applicationencompasses new and useful products, processes and machines. The final kind of relates to distinct designs of functional items. Let’s discuss these types of patent protection.

Design patents are distinguishable from utility patents because while utility patents concern the ways in which an object or process functions, a design patent is concerned with the ways in which an object looks. For example, the iconic shape of a glass Coca-Cola bottle is protected by a design patent, whereas the process for manufacturing these bottles likely patent protection by a utility patent.

It is important to note that designs protected by design patents must have “practical utility.” This does not necessarily mean that the design itself needs to have a practical function, but it needs to be utilized in conjunction with a practical object or process. For example, a specific countertop design’s only function may be to be aesthetically pleasing. However, because the countertop itself is practically functional, the countertop design may be covered by a design patent. In order to be eligible for a design patent, the design cannot actually affect the function of an object but must be integral to it in some way.

The Patent Application Process

It is worth noting that inventors may not file provisional applications for design. In order to protect a design from possible infringement, an inventor must file a non-provisional patent application. A non-provisional patent application process is time-consuming, highly detailed and complex. As a result, it is helpful to speak with a patent attorney before beginning the patent application process.

If granted, a non-provisional patent will extend certain legal protections to your design for up to 20 years. Your non provisional patent will generally allow you exclusive rights to create, manufacture and market your design for as long as your design is protected. If other individuals or businesses attempt to use your design in ways that are protected under the law during that time, you may exercise options for legal recourse.

When compiling your patent application, you will need to provide your attorney with as many details about your creative process as possible. You and your attorney will then be able to draft your design’s introduction, title, description, drawings, research, oath, data sheet and patent application transmittal. Once your patent application is complete and your fees are paid, you will be able to secure the filing date upon which your design is considered formally submitted for recognition. Securing an early filing date is critical because your design will remain vulnerable to infringement as long as it is unprotected.

Application Assistance Is Available

If you are interested in protecting a design, please consider reaching out to the team at LawTrades. Our intellectual property team has extensive experience with drafting and filing patent applications and will be happy to assist you. Great ideas are worth of patent protection, so please consider taking the steps necessary to protect your great ideas today.