A design patent may be granted to any person who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. In other words, a design patent protects the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features. A design patent may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to surface ornamentation, or to a combination of the two. The owner of a design patent may exclude all others from making, using, or selling the design for a period of fourteen years from the date the patent is granted. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is currently considering changes to the fourteen-year term, however. Unlike the owner of a utility patent, the owner of a design patent does not have to pay periodic maintenance fees in order to keep the patent in force.
The application for a design patent typically must contain a preamble, which consists of the name of the applicant, the title of the design, and a brief description of the nature and intended use of the design. The information included in the preamble will be printed on the patent itself should a patent be granted. Next, the application should include the design’s title, which should describe the article in terms that can be understood by the general public.
A design patent application must also include figure descriptions, which indicate what each view of the drawings submitted along with the application represents. A design patent application next requires a single claim, which defines the design that the applicant wishes to patent. Further, the application must include drawings or black and white photographs. This portion of the application is the single most important part of the application process. A drawing or black and white photograph of the design must be included. This drawing or photograph must contain the entire visual disclosure of the claim, with nothing left to conjecture.
The drawings or photographs must contain a sufficient number of views of the design to completely disclose its appearance. The drawings must include surface shading that shows the character and contour of any three-dimensional aspects of the design. Color drawings or photographs will only be permitted upon the granting of a petition explaining why they are necessary. A declaration or oath must also be included in the application.
The design patent application is a complicated document, and it requires a very specific format. Even one deviation from the prescribed format, especially when it comes to the drawings or photographs, may result in the rejection of the application. Lei Jiang Law Firm will use our knowledge and expertise to guide you through this process and assist you with your application.