A patent design is a type of patent that is granted by the U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) to those who have created a new and non-obvious decorative design for an article of manufacture. Unlike a utility patent, the most common type of patent, a patent design does not protect the structural or functional features of an object. Instead, it strictly protects the appearance or presentation aspect of an object. Hence, the name patent design. A utility patent on the other hand protects only the functional aspect of an invention. However, an invention can have both a utility patent as well as a patent design. Examples of a patent design include designs for computer icons, furniture, and packaging containers.
The process to obtain a patent design is similar to that of the other patents, with a few minor exceptions. If a design patent is granted by the USPTO, the patent will have a period of 14 years from the date it was filed. During the 14 years span of the patent, the owner of the patent design will have exclusive rights over the patent. As a result, owners can prevent others from using, copying, or making their design or a design similar to the patented design. In addition, just like other pieces of property, a patent design can be sold, transferred, mortgaged, or abandoned.
The patent application process is one that is not anything but simple. There are a vast number of laws and procedures that oversees the process. To make matters worst, the US Patent Office constantly propose and create new regulations. This alone can make it difficult for applicants to understand what is required by the Patent Office in order to get a patent approved. For this reason alone, most individuals obtain the services of a patent attorney and agent. A patent attorney or agent is a person who has specific knowledge of the patent laws and is capable of representing clients throughout the entire patent application process.
A patent design application consists of the following items:
A preamble which identifies the name of the applicant, the title of the design, and a description of the design and how it will be implemented
Statements concerning federally sponsored research or development
Drawings and or photographs of the design
A description of the figure or figures in the drawings or drawings