In the US, how does one file a patent for an invention or an improvement on an existing design?

First, you need to decide if your patent is for an invention or a unique improvement on an existing design(or both!)—they are two different applications. Your options include a utility patent and/or design patent. It’s important to understand each of them.

Utility Patent

Utility patents are considered a more thorough and costly approach to protecting your invention. Essentially an utility patent does the following:

  • Protects the functionality of the invention
  • Capable of protecting multiple variations of the invention
  • May include broad protections making it more difficult for competitors to violate infringement terms
  • It does NOT protect ornamental features of the design

Design Patent

Design patents protect improvements of the appearance of an invention. Consider this about design patents

  • Easier and cheaper to file
  • Limits protection to the appearance of the product
  • Difficult to protect variations of the invention

In some cases, it is beneficial to file both types of patents if your product is unique in both design and function. Your best bet is to talk with an IP attorney to make sure that you are filing the proper applications for your situation.

LawTrades is more than happy to put you in touch with a seasoned IP lawyer. We are dedicated to providing clients with affordable and easily accessible legal services that are much more convenient than traditional law firms. Check out our website to learn more about us and to schedule your consultation. Hope to hear from you soon!