Design Patent Applications

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LICENSED TO PRACTICE BEFORE THE USPTO

Introduction

Unlike utility patents which protect structural and functional aspects of an invention, design patents protect ornamental aspects of an invention and focus primarily on aesthetic appearance. Certain types of inventions are typically better suited for design patents since getting a utility patent on such an invention would be more difficult (but not necessarily impossible). For instance, inventions related to household / automotive decor, toys, consumer electronic enclosures, clothing, footwear, sunglasses or handbags may be better suited for design patents if they function the same as other known variants, but mainly differ in their ornamental or aesthetic appeal. Additionally, many inventions may also be suited for both design patents and utility patents, and as such, it may be beneficial to file both a utility patent application and a design patent application to maximize protection. After all, having at least some patent protection is typically desired and recommended when taking an invention to the marketplace. 

**Design Patent Application Pricing**

Advantages of Design Patents

  • Ideal for Protecting Inventions with Ornamental or Aesthetic Appeal

  • Permits one to Legally Declare "Patent Pending" once a Design Patent Application is Filed

  • Less Expensive to Prosecute (Compared to Utility Patent Applications)

  • USPTO Filing Fees Less Expensive (Compared to Utility Patent Applications)

  • No Post-Grant Maintenance Fees with USPTO During the Lifetime of the Patent

  • Greater Likelihood of being Granted as Compared to a Utility Patent (~95% Allowance Rate, Compared to Approximately 55-70% Allowance Rate for Utility Patents)

  • Typically Granted Significantly Sooner than a Utility Patent (Approximately 1-1.5 Year(s), Compared to Approximately 2 or 3 Years for a Utility Patent)

Drawbacks of Design Patents 
  • Generally Considered "Weaker" than Utility Patents since only Ornamental Aspects of an Invention are Protected, not Utility (How an Invention "Works" or Functions)

  • Duration is only 15 years (from Date of Grant), Instead of 20 Years (from Earliest Filing Date) for a Utility Patent

  • Typically only Covers one Design, not Multiple Designs of the Same Invention

  • Detailed Design Patent Drawings are Typically More Expensive (Compared to Utility Patent Drawings)

Inventions such as shoes, sunglasses and handbags are typically protected by design patents