Design Patents New York

Here’s Why More People Should Apply for Design Patents

We cannot underemphasize the usefulness of design patents. Some would lament that the rights provided by a single design patent are ‘unsatisfactory,’ but its benefits far outweigh its disadvantages. 

Design patents have been the most accessible patent type to obtain. The traditional belief was that if something was easy to obtain, it was likely not that valuable to possess in the first place. This belief (and reality) has been upended in recent years.

Did you know that Google obtained a design patent for its homepage design on September 1, 2009? It filed the design patent on March 6, 2006. Google’s approved design patent protects its homepage from imitators. In addition, the design patent will protect the Google homepage for 15 years from the date it was granted.

A business’ most accessible resource for design patent applications is a patent attorney. A patent lawyer in Brooklyn, N.Y. is the only legal professional capable of handling the complex procedures of the USPTO and their requirements for a robust design patent.

Tatonetti IP attorneys are experts in design patent law and applications. Keep reading to learn how our firm can help you start the design patent application process.

Recent Design Patents in the U.S.

In 2023, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its one millionth design patent to a cosmetologist in Texas. 

However, not nearly enough businesses or individuals work with a design patent attorney in New York to apply for design patents. There is a noticeable increase in the number of applications, but the trend is insufficient for us to proclaim that it goes beyond the median or historical norm.

If acquiring some protection is essential for an overall marketing plan, it’s best to acquire some protection faster than the two to three years it will likely take to secure a utility patent. 

Moreover, design patents are beneficial for many reasons. For instance, an inventor can hold dozens of design patents on a single product. Imagine forty different design patents to cover a single product.

U.S. Design Patent Examples

Let’s review the essentials of a design patent in the U.S.—when we say “protectable design,” we refer to the visual or ornamental characteristics of a single item, object, or article. 

When your product is visually distinct from anything previously accessible, yet it performs and is structured identically to other similar products, then this is the moment that you enter the domain of design patents.

The subject of design patent applications can involve shapes and configurations or surface ornamentation in an object or article. An ornamental surface design is inseparable from the object, cannot exist independently, and must apply a distinct surface decoration pattern to the article. In other words, a design patent will only cover the appearance of an object, not its functionality.

Design patents protect an object’s visual appearance, but not its mechanical aspects and functions. So you could apply for a design patent for intricate knife engravings identifying a new knife line as coming from your brand. Still, you can’t prevent other manufacturers from creating similar implements that cut and slice. 

Design Patent Example: Suppose we examine the difference between a butter knife and a serrated steak knife. Both are knives, and both have a similar function (cutting/slicing), but their appearances couldn’t be any more different. Yes, both have handles and a measure of carbon steel or stainless steel, but the visual appearances are markedly different. The visual differences will persist even if you take the same objects from the same brand or knife line.

Bearing this in mind, many knives can receive different design patents despite the ubiquitous nature of the handle and blade design (i.e., their functionality within the configuration of a knife).

What Qualifies for Protection Under a Design Patent vs. Utility Patent

Inventors typically want to safeguard the functionality of their inventions wherever feasible. When an inventor obtains a utility patent, they can prevent others from importing, selling, using, and making into the U.S. any product that is functionally covered by the granted patent. 

Utility patents have historically been more desirable, potent, and far-reaching than design patents. Once granted, patents have specific claims that help protect the product. These claims are active regardless of whether the object or device resembles what you are creating or the drawings in a current application for a patent.

Inventors should still consider design patents even if the article structure is unique and a utility patent is viable. For example, if your invention has a unique visual appearance, you can apply for design and utility patents.

Suppose you invent a shoe that performs mechanically differently, maybe by drastically lowering the impact felt by the wearer because of the unique sole material. In that case, the sneaker might also be covered by a utility patent, as the innovation would also have a functional component. However, a design patent alone would not protect the sneaker’s functionality.

An article may be granted design and utility patents if the invention lies in its function and aesthetic appeal. Seek help from a local patent lawyer in Brooklyn to appropriately file the right patent applications. Tatonetti IP uses our vast network of experts and application drafters to complete prior art searches and draft the perfect patent application.

File a Design Patent Application Today

A creator or business can obtain a design patent within six to nine months of application, provided the applicant works with a competent and experienced patent lawyer from Tatonetti IP. Contact our firm today to start your design patent application.

Apply for Design Patents: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the limitations of design patents vs. utility patents?

The biggest limitation of design patents is the fact that they solely protect the visual appearance of your invention and not its functional aspects. Without a utility patent, competitors could recreate your invention and just change the way it looks without infringing on your design patent. 

What factors should businesses consider when deciding between design patents vs. utility patents?

The biggest factor is price—design patents tend to be less expensive to obtain and maintain than utility patents since they don’t require renewal fees. Getting a design patent first, or applying for design and utility patents simultaneously, is the best strategy to protect the entirety of your invention. Enlist the expertise of a patent attorney to determine the best way to approach your patent applications.

What are the latest trends in U.S. design patent applications?

The USPTO saw design patent applications increase by 20% over the past year and recently issued its millionth design patent in 2023. The increased awareness of the value of design patents among businesses and individuals may lead to a greater number of applications being filed in the coming years, so it’s essential for you to work with a patent attorney to adapt your application strategy accordingly.

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