What Are Design Patents?

In short, a design patent covers the way something looks.  The U.S.P.T.O. has this to say about design patents: “A design [patent] consists of the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture. Since a design is manifested in appearance, the subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation.”

Another useful way to think about design patents is to compare them to utility patents.  Utility patents generally cover the way an article works and is used.  A design patent only covers the look of an item.  Often, a product that reaches store shelves will be covered by a variety of patents, both design and utility.  The idea is to create a “patent thicket” that will keep competitors from copying the look, feel and functionality of a product.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: