Design patents can range in cost from $1,950 to $5,500. The initial application alone will cost between $2,000 and $3,500, while examination and issue fees after submission will amount to $1,000 to $2,000.
What Are the Costs Associated with a Design Patent?
1. Attorney Fees:
Expect to spend $1,200 to $3,000 on attorney fees. They will guide you on whether a design patent application is the right route or if a utility patent would be more suitable. Additionally, they will assist with ensuring your drawings meet the required standards.
2. Design Patent USPTO Costs:
These are the fees payable to the government. When submitting the design patent application, there is a filing fee based on whether you are a micro-entity, small entity, or large entity. If you receive a notice of allowance, the government fee will depend on your entity size. Attorneys typically include a service charge in the fees.
|USPTO Filing Fee
|USPTO Issue Fee
3. Drawing Costs:
If you provide 3D CAD drawings, a patent draftsperson will convert them into the required format for the USPTO. This service typically costs around $500, payable when submitting the design patent application.
For information on the cost of a utility patent, refer to “How much does it cost to get a utility patent?” To determine whether to file a utility patent or a design patent, read “Deciding what application to file: Design or Utility?” and “Best uses for design patents.”
How Much Does it Cost to Expedite a Design Patent Application?
Expedited processing for a design patent application carries a price tag of $2,500. This involves a preexamination search, an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS), and payment of an expedited examination fee.
Unlike Track 1 requests for utility patent applications, you can decide whether to expedite your design patent application even after filing.
Under normal processing, a design patent application is examined within 14 months to 2 years. With expedited processing, examination time is reduced to approximately 2 to 4 months.
Best Practices for Reducing the Cost of a Design Patent
Best Practice #1: Get your 3D CAD model
Obtain a three-dimensional computer-drawn model of your design. Instead of relying on a patent draftsperson to create the drawings, hire a product designer who can work with you to ensure your design meets your stylistic preferences.
Without a 3D CAD file, the resulting drawings may not meet the requirements for a design patent. Patent draftspersons are more skilled in converting detailed CAD drawings into an acceptable form for the USPTO, rather than product design iteration.
Best Practice #2: Submit close to the product launch date
Submit your design patent application as close to the product launch date as possible. This ensures that the drawings closely resemble the final product you plan to sell.
Typically, the product design undergoes iterations before finalization. While this is beneficial for perfecting the design, for design patent purposes, it is crucial that the design in the application matches the product being sold. Filing closer to the launch date minimizes the risk of design changes that could affect patent protection.
Engage a patent attorney 6 to 8 weeks in advance to ensure timely preparation of the design patent application. If you want to file well ahead of the launch date, consider selecting a milestone in the product development cycle, such as after the injection molds are cut.
Significant design changes after filing may require refiling the application. Consult your patent attorney if any adjustments are made.
When Should You Seek a Design Patent?
Situation 1: Lazy Copycat Competitors
Design patents effectively deter lazy competitors who attempt to replicate your product without making any modifications. However, if a competitor alters the appearance of their product while maintaining similar functionality, a design patent may not offer sufficient protection. In such cases, a utility patent could be more appropriate.
Remember, design patents shield the visual appearance depicted in the drawings, not the product’s functionality.
Situation 2: Products Sold in Sets
If you sell products in sets, a design patent can safeguard common design features among the components. For instance, if your dining table set includes a unique carving, obtaining a design patent for that carving ensures customers must purchase your patented design, effectively attaching them to your brand.
Situation 3: Manufacturer Selling Out the Back Door
Sometimes, manufacturers may take advantage of your molds to produce and sell products without your consent. A design patent is an effective tool for combating this behavior. Since the manufacturer uses your molds, the product they sell will match the design depicted in your patent.
While design patents only protect the product’s appearance, they can still prevent this type of unauthorized behavior. It may be more challenging to address the issue if the manufacturer operates overseas. However, once their identical product appears on platforms like Amazon, you can take appropriate action.
Situation 3: Cool Designs
If you have a visually appealing product, it’s worth considering a design patent to protect its unique and distinctive look.
What Information Should You Provide to Your Patent Attorney?
To prepare the design patent application, you need to furnish your patent attorney with the final design of the product in a 3D CAD model. Your attorney will review the design and generate the necessary views from the CAD model.
Design Patent vs. Utility Patent: Which Offers Better Protection?
A design patent provides superior protection when you aim to safeguard the visual appearance of a product. On the other hand, a utility patent is preferable when protecting the functional aspects of a product is your priority.
Select the type of protection that aligns with the specific aspect you want to safeguard.
Examples of Design Patents
Design patents can cover products in various categories. Here are a few examples:
Lego – “Everything is Awesome”
Wheel Rims – Vroom Vroom
Tire Tread Patterns
Remember, not all products require design patents. If you aim to protect the exact appearance of a product, design patents are ideal. However, they aren’t the best choice for securing general styles or looks.
Is a Patent Search Recommended for Design Patents?
Generally, a design patent search is not necessary due to the high allowance rate for such applications. Design patents enjoy significantly higher approval rates compared to utility patents. Consequently, the cost of conducting a design patent search is typically not justified.
If your design is based on someone else’s, inform your patent attorney. They will consider the other person’s patent and assess any potential infringement.
What is a “Poor Man’s Patent”?
The notion of a “poor man’s patent” is a myth. It involves mailing a description of your invention to yourself, relying on the postmark as proof of the invention’s date. However, this method is unreliable, as anyone can mail a letter to themselves, insert any content, and claim it as prior art. The evidence holds very little weight.