What Is A Design Patent? Discover The Power And Purpose of Design Patents

A design patent is a form of legal protection that grants you the exclusive right to make, use, or sell your product’s ornamental design for a limited period of time.

But what exactly is a design patent? How does it differ from other types of patents? How do you apply for one?

And what are the benefits and challenges of obtaining a design patent?

In this article, we will answer all these questions and more.

What Is A Design PatentCourtesy:(MIIP)
What Is A Design Patent
Courtesy:(MIIP)

What is a Design Patent?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “a design patent protects only the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features.”

In other words, a design patent covers the way your product looks, but not the way it works or how it is made.

A design patent may be granted if your product has a distinct configuration, distinct surface ornamentation, or both.

A design patent should not be confused with a utility patent, which protects the functional aspects of an invention or product discovery.

A utility patent covers how your product works, what it does, and how it does it.

A utility patent is the most common type of patent for inventions that have practical utility.

For example, some products that are covered by utility patents are machines, tools, devices, processes, etc.

A single product may have both a design patent and a utility patent at the same time if it has both novel functionality and unique appearance.

However, each type of patent has its own requirements, fees, and procedures, so you will need to prepare separate applications for each one.

What Types of Products are Eligible for a Design Patent?

To be eligible for a design patent, your product must meet two main criteria: it must be an article of manufacture and it must be ornamental.

An article of manufacture is any tangible object that is made by humans or machines.

It can be either complete or incomplete. It can be either simple or complex.

However, it cannot be an abstract idea, a natural phenomenon, or a law of nature.

Ornamental means that your product’s appearance is not dictated by its function or structure.

It means that your product’s appearance is aesthetic rather than functional.

It means that your product’s appearance could be changed without affecting its performance or utility.

For example, consider the following products:

  • A chair: A chair is an article of manufacture because it is a tangible object that is made by humans or machines. A chair can have an ornamental design because its appearance is not dictated by its function or structure.
  • A book: A book is an article of manufacture because it is a tangible object that is made by humans or machines. However, a book cannot have an ornamental design because its appearance is dictated by its function and structure.
  • A flower: A flower is not an article of manufacture because it is not made by humans or machines. It is a natural phenomenon that exists in nature. Therefore, a flower cannot be eligible for a design patent.

What are the Criteria and Requirements for Obtaining a Design Patent?

To obtain a design patent, your product must meet four main criteria: it must be novel, non-obvious, ornamental, and enabled.

These criteria are explained below:

  • Novelty: This means that your product’s design must be new and different from any prior art that exists before your filing date. Prior art is any evidence that shows that your product’s design is not new, such as previous patents, publications, products, etc. To prove novelty, you must conduct a thorough patent search to find out if there are any similar
  • Non-obviousness: This means that your product’s design must not be obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art (PHOSITA) at the time of your filing date. A PHOSITA is a hypothetical person who has the same level of knowledge and experience as the average designer in your field. To prove non-obviousness, you must show that your design involves an inventive step or a creative contribution that is not readily apparent to a PHOSITA.
  • Ornamentality: This means that your product’s design must be primarily aesthetic rather than functional. Your design must not be dictated by the function or structure of your product. Your design must also not be inseparable from the function or structure of your product.
  • Enablement: This means that your product’s design must be sufficiently described and illustrated in your patent application so that a PHOSITA can make and use it without undue burden or experimentation. Your patent application must include a written specification that explains the purpose, function, operation, advantages, etc., of your design. Your patent application must also include drawings that show the appearance of your design in detail.

ALSO READ: How To Patent An App Idea: A Complete Guide To Patenting Your Unique Idea

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