Design Patents FAQs
What qualifies for a design patent?
Any unique ornamental design of an article of manufacture (a useful item made by man or machine) may qualify for design patent protection. Generally, a design must satisfy the following to be patentable:
1. It is "part" of the article. That is, the design is intertwined and inseparable from the item.
2. It is purely ornamental. The design cannot be part of the item's internal structure, nor may it be responsible for the article's new or improved use. A good test is to ask, "Would the article work the same way if the design was removed or changed?" If the answer is no -- that it would work differently (or not at all) -- you more likely have a candidate for a utility patent.
The law also requires a patentable design to be "original" (cannot simulate a well-known or naturally-occuring object or person) as well as non-offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group or nationality.