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The intellectual property world has several different complex legal terms. It is not easy to navigate through it without an experienced attorney. Failing to file the proper paperwork could result in losing property ownership and not being able to collect profits. Below is an article that discusses what the design patent is, and how long it lasts.

What is a patent?

A patent is best described as an idea. When an inventor invents an idea, a patent is the way they protect their idea from getting it copied by others. In order to get an official patent, it must be issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patent laws and regulations are all created and determined by the United States Congress. When a patent has been granted through this office, the patent holder has “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the patent. A patent holder has the right to use their patent, along with selling it to others for a profit. These rights are given to patent holders to enforce against any others who may be copying and benefiting from their patent. Visit our patents page for more information on all types of patents.

What is a design patent?

A design patent is usually thought of as overlooked. It is not as common, but has very strong protections unlike other patents. A design patent is one that has a “new, original, and ornamental” design. Design patents are not as common as utility patents. Utility patents are inventions that are considered to be useful. Design patents are created for more aesthetic purposes. They must be visually appealing in order to be considered a design. Design patents do not have any utilities or benefits to the user. A design patent is merely a legal standard to protect the design.

What does a design patent protect?

A design patent is solely aesthetic and protects the non-functional appearance. Generally, a design patent is simply protecting how the item looks. If an inventor is slowly trying to protect the way something looks, they will have to get a design patent rather than a utility patent.

What does a design patent not protect?

A design patent does not protect any functional features. For example, if a lamp were to be patented as a design patent, the actual utility of opening the light and giving off light is not patented. If the object is mostly used for utility rather than for an aesthetic, then the inventor should seek a utility patent.

 Examples of design patents

Below are some examples of design patent:

  • Jewelry: the way a certain piece of jewelry design is created could be protected. For example, the jewelry brand Tiffany and Co. has a design patent for their key pendant necklaces. Because they have such a patent, this prevents any other companies from designing jewelry that is similar to that key pendant design.
  • Furniture: something so simple like a lampshade design could be easily patented to prevent others from copying the exact same design.
  • Packaging: the Tiffany & Co blue color boxes and gift wrap has a design patent that prevents other companies from making that their signature color.
  • Application icons: the design of the app icons on your phone need design patents. For example, the Instagram logo has a design patent to prevent others from copying that same app icon.
  • Beverage containers: the iconic glass Coke bottle has a design patent to prevent other beverage companies from having that same design.
  • Statutes: one of the most famous statue that has a design patent is the Statue of Liberty
  • Technology: phone design screens, such as the Apple iPhone, have a design patent

How to patent a design

There are several steps one must take to patent design, which include:

  • Preparing the design patent application
  • Performing a patent search to ensure no one else has that same patent
  • File the design patent application
  • Pay the design patent application fees

The Application for a design patent must be filled out within 12 months of when the patent was released to the public.

How much does a design patent cost?

Design patents are much cheaper than utility patents. A design patent is usually discounted 50% for an individual or a company that has less than 500 employees. The current fee to file a design patent is around $500 which includes the basic filing fees. Once the patent is applied for and illustrators are needed, illustrators could cost upwards of $200 to create the design drawings.

How long does a design patent last?

Design patents filed on or after May 13th 2015 last 14 days from the date of issuance. A patent may expire if the owner fails to pay the registration and maintenance fees to the US Patent and Trademark office. This may end up with the owner losing the rights to their patent. Patents filed before May 13th 2015 are good for 14 years from the date the design was granted.

It is important to constantly check for any updates the office may need. Failure to do so could result in an invalid patent. Design patents do not need as many maintenance fees to keep the patent from expiring as do utility patents. Utility patents require more maintenance. When the design patent expires, the patent owner has no rights. But, a patent owner could still file lawsuits against others who try to copy that exact same design.

How long does it take to get a design Patent?

A Design patent takes less time than getting a utility patent. When the design patent is granted by the office, the 15 years then begins. Design patents also have confidentiality agreements so they remain a secret while it is pending through the USPTO office. The design patent is only published once the patent is granted through the office. However, with utility patents, the utility may be published before to the public while it is still being processed.

The length of time it takes to secure a design patent depends on how busy the office may be. For example, it would usually take 12 months to get a design patent on average. But these times are subject to change.

Because the design patent application maybe a bit complex, it is advised to discuss it with an experienced Los Angeles attorney who is skilled in the legal process of obtaining such patents. Our attorneys will work to make sure our clients are always aware of the steps leading up to the patent filing. We are readily available and on call for any questions that may arise. For a no risk, no cost consultation, please call us today. Working with a legal professional can ensure a smoother process.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.