A design patent gives an owner the right to exclude others from making a similar product. The patentee can use this right to block copycat products from entering the market. The U.S. Supreme Court defines an ordinary observer as a person who “retail purchases goods of a particular type.” By contrast, an expert is less likely to be fooled by a product that looks similar to yours.
Design patents cover a broad range of products, including computer icons, non-functional computer displays, ornamental designs on automobiles, furniture, jewelry, and fonts. These types of designs can be covered by design patents, although these patents are not as widely utilized as utility patents. Utility patents cover more functional elements, such as how an item works.
Examining a design patent application
There are many steps involved in Examining a Design Patent Application. First, it must be attached to an article of manufacture. The design must be both novel and non-obvious. Novelty means the design has not been patented previously and non-obvious means it is unknown to people with special knowledge of the design. To get your application approved, you need to have all of the information required for an examination.
The process for expedited design examination is different for each individual applicant. If you are in need of an expedited design patent, it is best to file the application within six months of the oldest non-US design application. Otherwise, the waiting time is approximately 12 to 30 months. Afterwards, you must file a response to the Office Action, which typically takes three months. This process can be extended by paying an expediting fee of $225, $450, or $900 for large entities. This fee is on top of the normal design patent application fee.
The title of the design must identify the article that the design is embodied in. A descriptive title helps the examiner search for prior art and properly assign a new design application. It also helps the public understand the nature of the article. Therefore, it is highly recommended for applicants to provide a specific title for their design. If you are applying for a design patent, it is best to make sure the title describes exactly what the article is.
Once the examiner rejects your application, you will need to respond in writing. Normally, this response includes written arguments and amendments to the claims. The goal of the response is to convince the examiner to allow your application. If the examiner agrees with the claim amendments, you will be granted the patent. However, if you are not prepared to submit an adequate response, the examiner may decide to reject your application.
The claims are a crucial part of the design patent application. They describe the unique design elements of the covered design. In most cases, the claim will refer to drawings showing characteristic shapes, such as curvature or indentations. The drawings should also clearly depict the claim of uniqueness. This is the most important part of a design patent application. Besides the claims, the specification must be convincing to make it a valid patent.
Classifications of design patents
Design patents are generally classified as ORs in the first Design class and assigned to the appropriate design subclass. Design patents are also classified according to their ornamental features. The first relevant subclass describes the general appearance of the product, while the last two classes describe specific functional or ornamental aspects of the design. Design patents can be either ORs or XRs. The purpose of classification is to facilitate access to a design patent in a foreign search file.
Design patents are typically granted for ornamental designs on goods. These designs may include those on jewelry, automobiles, furniture, fonts, and computer icons. Some notable design patent objects include the original Coca-Cola bottle, which was patented in 1915. The Copyright Act defines artistic works as objects. Therefore, a design patent must be filed for a product before a competitor can copy or imitate it.
A design patent is granted to protect the visual qualities of a manufactured product. A design patent may be granted for a distinct configuration, ornamental surface ornamentation, or a combination of both. If a product is identical to an object covered by a design patent, it may be prohibited from making and using it in the United States. However, registered designs are another form of design patent protection. Some European countries offer patent protection for designs for a fee.
Most patent offices around the world follow the Locarno classification. In designing a product, an applicant must first conduct a search for the appropriate Locarno class. However, they may also use different national design classes. Countries like the United States and Canada have their own design patent classification systems. For these reasons, it is advisable to search for design patents using both systems. A good design patent search will result in a high level of protection for the invention.
Examples of design patents
Design patents are issued to a person who has created an ornamental design on an article of manufacture. It protects the overall appearance of an object, not its structural features. A design patent can also protect the ornamental look of an icon or computer display. Because design patents contain few words, they are difficult to search. Examples of design patents include those used by software companies to protect the look of user interfaces and touchscreen devices.
For example, Apple is aggressive in pursuing UI design patents. The ‘666 design patent protects the bottom row of icons, while the D’864 design patent protects the proportions of the iOS on an iPad. UI elements can also be protected by design patents, including animations, transitions, and layouts. These patents protect the appearance of a user interface, such as a mobile app’s home screen, and can be crucial to the functionality of the product. Apple was awarded a design patent for this design, which is now in use by the company. If a company wants to produce a product that is similar to the iPhone’s user interface, it can use the design patent to prevent a competitor from producing a similar product.
As with any type of patent application, design patent applications must include enough drawings to effectively disclose the appearance of a product. These drawings should include top, bottom, front, and rear views. Some drawings may even include perspective views. The USPTO will then send you a notification that your design patent application has been approved. During this time, you can make any necessary amendments to your design patent, if necessary. If you don’t make the necessary amendments, you may face legal consequences.
In order to obtain a design patent, you must be the first to produce a similar product. If you are planning to copy a patented product, make sure that you consider whether it is new and appealing to the consumer. Then, you should consider applying for several design patents. A series of separate design patents are stronger than one. However, keep in mind that design patents do not protect your invention, but only the ornamental design of an item.
Another important distinction between design patents and their counterparts is the ability to apply the “ordinary observer” test. This method requires the court to determine whether the accused product adopts a point of novelty from the design patented by the owner. The result is that small changes can be significant and the jury is likely to rely on these differences in determining whether a product infringes on a design patent. And this test makes design patents stronger.
In order to qualify for design patent protection, the design must not only be ornamental but it must also be repeatable. This means that the design must not change as you change the item. It must also be an integral part of the item. This means that you cannot claim a design patent for a label design on a wine bottle.
A design patent may also be issued for an ornamental combination of two different types of designs, such as a pressure washer and a computer display. In this case, the pressure washer would be protected under the design patent, but the computer display would not.
Another example is a lampshade with a unique shape. If this lampshade were to be sold to the public, it would not qualify for a design patent. However, if this lampshade was created using a unique technique, it would qualify for a design patent.
Infringing a design patent
Infringing a design patent requires that you pay the infringer the total profits of the product. Infringing a design patent can apply to small parts, features, or components of a complex product. This type of patent applies to designs that serve more practical purposes than purely ornamental ones. In some cases, a design patent can even cover the entire product. If this is the case for your product, you may want to consider filing for a design patent against the item in question.
The key to filing for a design patent lawsuit is to stay on top of any infringement. You only get one chance to present your case, so working with a patent attorney is imperative. A patent attorney will also be able to conduct exhaustive searches to identify potential infringement cases and ensure that your case is strong. You can even hire an independent design expert to help you present your case. Such experts have been pivotal in many high-profile design patent infringement cases.
Another issue to be resolved in a design patent lawsuit is how much money the plaintiff is entitled to receive. The Supreme Court has held that the maximum damages for an infringing product are the total profits attributed to the infringing parts. This remedy is not a windfall for the patentee, but instead should be used to ensure fairness. However, the statutory remedy may be limited to the product’s total profits, so you should consider whether it applies in your specific case.
Another question to consider is whether the product can be categorized as a single or multiple components. The answer is yes. An infringing design can also apply to a product that contains several components, such as a smartphone. A product may be covered by one design patent, but if multiple components are involved, the design patent can be used to protect the entire product. If you do not own a design patent, you may be liable for damages for infringement.
Generally speaking, a design patent is issued for a design applied to an article of manufacture. This may include the ornamental features of a product such as a computer display or ornamental designs applied to furniture. However, a design patent does not cover processes, functional elements, or mechanical features. It is important to understand what a design patent covers before filing for a patent. If you are an inventor, you can review examples of design patents to determine if your invention qualifies for protection. This will help you prepare your patent application.