Getting a design patent is simpler than you might expect. In most cases, all it requires is submitting a design patent application. This application includes a description of the design and a declaration. By doing so, you will secure exclusive rights over your design and have the ability to take legal action against anyone who tries to profit from it without your permission. Moreover, acquiring a design patent is more affordable and easier compared to obtaining a utility patent.
Understanding the Process of Obtaining a Design Patent
A design patent safeguards the ornamental aspects of your product. To acquire a design patent, you must demonstrate that your design is unique, valuable, and not already in use. For instance, if you wish to patent a bed design, you must show that no other product on the market shares the same design. If the value or significance of your design outweighs the cost of renewing it, you can even extend the duration of your design patent.
Before applying for a design patent, it’s crucial to conduct a patent search. This will help you determine if similar designs are already protected and enable you to include a discussion of your research in your application. Additionally, it may be beneficial to examine previously-issued patents to identify any similarities with your design.
The initial step in the process is to thoroughly understand your invention. A design patent application comprises an abstract, a detailed description of the invention, and figure descriptions accompanying the abstract. It is essential to adhere to the instructions provided by the patent examiner, even if you don’t fully agree with them. Moreover, if your design undergoes any changes, a patent reissue will be necessary, which typically involves updated patent drawings. Acquiring a design patent can effectively safeguard your product and deter others from copying it.
The subsequent step in obtaining a design patent is to apply for one. This involves completing a patent search and research, followed by submitting the patent application to the USPTO. If you decide to hire a patent attorney, you will need to prepare a power of attorney document. However, if you opt to handle the process yourself, you should review previously-issued patent designs to determine which ones you can emulate and incorporate into your application.
While it is technically not mandatory to create drawings of your design, excluding them from the patent application will result in its rejection. Drawings play a crucial role in illustrating the design and are more important than any other section of your application. Depending on your own drawing skills, it may be challenging to create high-quality drawings. To increase your chances of obtaining a patent, it is advisable to hire a professional who can draw the patent illustrations for you. This service typically costs around $600.
Understanding the Distinction between Utility and Design Patents
It is important to note that design patents differ from utility patents. Utility patents protect the functional aspects of an invention, while design patents solely safeguard its appearance. Therefore, before deciding whether to patent your design, you need to consider the utility aspects of your invention. Additionally, securing a design patent will be less costly than obtaining a utility patent.
When making a choice between a utility patent and a design patent, remember that utility patents protect functionality, whereas design patents focus on the ornamentation. Both types of patents are challenging to obtain and can be expensive. Prior to determining which type of patent to pursue, conduct a novelty search to ascertain whether your invention is novel or non-obvious. For eligibility criteria regarding either patent, refer to the USPTO website.
While utility patents primarily safeguard functionality, design patents are instrumental in protecting the appearance of an existing product. This can significantly impact the success of your product.
Typically, design patents only cover what is explicitly depicted in the patent drawings. This implies that the patented product may also encompass surface ornamentation or configuration. However, there exists a risk that competitors may attempt to copy or create a similar product design.
For instance, consider the example of a toaster—an electrical appliance with both a red rectangular design and a white curved design. Regardless of the style, the function of a toaster remains constant. A utility patent empowers you to control who manufactures and uses your product. By selecting the appropriate type of patent, you can maintain authority over the design and avoid the hassle of rebranding.
Preparing a Design Patent Application
The design patent application consists of various elements, including drawings. These drawings should clearly depict the design of the article you are seeking to patent. Your design may not encompass the entire article, and you can use broken lines to illustrate non-essential details. However, refrain from drawing the entire article, and ensure that the purpose of these lines is evident. Additionally, provide a comprehensive description of the design that spans at least six pages.
While a design patent application protects the ornamentation of a product, the drafting process is critical. Properly including and excluding design elements can influence the scope of protection. When preparing the design patent application, vividly illustrate the claimed subject matter using solid lines. Avoid drawing non-essential features that can be altered or omitted, as these features may weaken a patent infringement claim.
To safeguard your design, include all co-inventors in the Design Patent application. A copyright statement and a disclaimer can be inserted, if applicable. Cross-referencing related applications is necessary before the specification. Finally, ensure that all co-inventors are listed and sign the Oath. Design patent applications must include an Oath, in addition to identifying the co-inventors.
Once you have completed the application form, you must create a drawing of your design. It is important to remember that a design patent application does not protect the actual invention, but rather its appearance. A design patent safeguards the ornamentation, shapes, and patterns that are part of your design. By following the guidelines provided on the USPTO website, you can successfully obtain a design patent.
Filing a Design Patent Application by Yourself
If you are wondering how to apply for a design patent by yourself, a typical design patent application includes a preamble, a brief description of the design, cross-references to prior art, and detailed design specifications, including drawings. The application may consist of one or multiple claims, applying to a specific type of article. In either case, you need to file your application with the USPTO and pay the required fees. After submission, an examiner will review your design to ensure its originality and compliance with relevant laws.
When applying by yourself, you will need to submit at least seven illustrations. For complex designs, it is advisable to include exploded views with all parts arranged along one axis. Additionally, you should submit a clear and concise design patent claim. Avoid incorporating unnecessary wording, as it may limit your rights.
A design patent application is crucial for anyone with an innovative idea. Depending on the application date, a design patent can remain valid for up to 15 years. However, certain foreign countries do not provide a grace period for filing a design patent, making it wise to consider hiring a professional draftsperson to prepare your design patent drawings. The USPTO provides examples of acceptable drawing disclosures and drawings. Alongside preparing drawings, ensure that you have all the necessary documents to support your design patent application.
Tips for Writing Your Design Patent Application
When filing your design patent application, it is essential to demonstrate that your design is eligible for patent protection. Remember that a design patent solely covers the appearance of the invention, not the invention itself. This includes ornamentation, shapes, and patterns. You can consult the USPTO’s design patent guide to determine whether your design qualifies for patent protection.
The application data sheet is a required document that provides basic information and details about your design and invention. You can find a copy of the application data sheet on the USPTO website. Adhere to the formatting guidelines provided by the USPTO, as the application data sheet is not mandatory.
Maintaining a detailed record of your invention is crucial. Keep a research notebook to document every step of the process. Explain how you conceived your idea, and document the construction of a prototype. It is also important to test the prototypes in the presence of witnesses.
Filing a Design Patent Application with an Attorney
Before filing a design patent application, you must decide whether to handle it yourself or engage an attorney. If you have concerns about legal costs, hiring a design patent attorney may be the best option. Patent attorneys possess extensive experience in filing design patents and can effectively protect your design. They are trained to navigate the patent process, which is a critical aspect of obtaining a design patent. An attorney can help safeguard your idea and ensure that it is not copied.
If you decide to engage an attorney, you will need to sign a power of attorney document. Before filing your application, conduct a patent search to determine whether someone else has already patented a similar design. Once you have the search results, include a discussion of this research in your application.
A qualified attorney will help you present a stronger case for your design by demonstrating the relationship between different design elements and their uniqueness. This approach offers you greater control over your design. Proper drawings are essential for the success of a design patent application since they play a central role. The patent application primarily revolves around drawings and other forms of visual representation. If you lack the necessary materials, consider hiring an attorney to prepare your drawings.
When filing a design patent application with an attorney, they will ensure that the drawings are clear and concise. A single claim should describe the design embodied in the article and be consistent with the invention’s title. You will also need to submitseven illustrations, including the petition. This step is critical for the success of your design patent application.