Unlike a utility patent, a design patent protects the unique, non-functional appearance of a manufactured item and grants you the right to prevent others from manufacturing, using, selling or importing items with your design. Plus you may legally label your design "patent pending" while your application is awaiting approval.
+ government feesSee details
Complete our online questionnaire and submit sketches or drawings of your invention (these can be as informal or detailed as you want)
A USPTO-registered patent professional will provide a patent consultation by phone
A technical illustrator will work with you to create professional drawings
LegalZoom conducts a comprehensive search for published patents and applications (not included in all packages)
Your patent agent will prepare your design patent application
Your patent agent will electronically file your completed application with the USPTO
The USPTO assigns a patent examiner to review your application and determine whether to grant a patent
Very professional and everything [was] well-explained.
Arnold R., Delray Beach, FL
The unique ornamental design of a useful item may qualify for design patent protection. Generally, a design must satisfy the following to be patentable:
To return to the bottle example above, if the new shape enables spill-proof pouring, this would be a functional change pointing toward a utility patent.
The law also requires a patentable design to be "original" (cannot simulate a well-known or naturally occurring object or person, and cannot be obvious in light of pre-existing designs) as well as not offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group or nationality.
Put simply, a design patent protects an article's design--its unique external appearance--while a utility patent protects the article's function. Utility patents also cover certain subject matter as to which a design patent would not apply (like processes and chemical compounds).
In some cases, an invention may qualify for both design and utility patent protection. Since each is a distinct form of protection, the inventor would need to apply for both types separately.
The term of a design patent is 14 years, measured from the date the patent is granted. This is in contrast to a utility patent term, which typically lasts 20 years and is measured from the application priority filing date. Design patents are not renewable and require no maintenance fees.
It is important that you plan ahead when completing your design patent application. Allow at least 2-3 weeks complete the patent process, as it will take some time to prepare your technical drawings and application.
Questions? Call (800) 773-0888