Definition of a Design Patent

Definition of a Design Patent

A design patent is a form of intellectual property protection which allows an inventor to protect the original shape or surface ornamentation of a useful manufactured article. This applies to any unique form or otherwise perceivable design features of an object - for instance, a chair, table, hand tool, clock, bottle or purse.

Whether an invention falls under the scope of a design patent can be a tricky question. There are two basic criteria for eligibility:

  • The design must be industrial. Thus, a painting or sculpture is not eligible for design patent protection because it is not separable from a useful object.
  • The design must not be dictated by the function of the article. That is, if the design specifically affects the way the article works, that design would not be separable from function and would not be eligible for design patent protection (though it may be eligible for a utility patent).

Like all patents, a design patent is a right to exclude. That is, it gives the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing articles with the particular design without permission. And design patent rights can be enforced in federal courts. Design patents last for 14 years, with no maintenance fees required.

 
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    Most people understand that it's important to take steps to protect their creative design. The confusing part can be figuring out what type(s) of intellectual property protection are needed. Each type of protection covers certain subject matter and offers specific rights to its owner. Thus, it's...
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  • Comparing Design Patents and Utility Patents
    You've finally created a really unique but practical chair - something that would look perfect in the pages of Architectural Digest. You're also savvy enough to realize you should look into protective legal steps before unveiling it to the public (and rival designers). So you'll just apply for a...
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  • Definition of a Design Patent
    A design patent is a form of intellectual property protection which allows an inventor to protect the original shape or surface ornamentation of a useful manufactured article. This applies to any unique form or otherwise perceivable design features of an object - for instance, a chair, table, hand...
    read more
  • Filing Requirements for Design Patents
    There are several components to a design patent application, though the bulk of the preparation time will typically center on the drawings section. The main elements are:
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  • Design Patent Searches
    http://www.legalzoom.com/patent-search/patent-search-overview.htmlDuring the application examination process, a search of prior patents and published applications ("the prior art") is conducted by the USPTO to determine whether your design is truly novel. There are of course advantages to having a...
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  • Introduction to Design Patents
    For years you've been tinkering with the objects in your house to give them more pizzazz. The kitchen clock has been cleverly reshaped to look like a cup of coffee. You've refitted your lamps with shades funky enough to match the retro theme of a room. Even the pet's food bowls have had a serious...
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