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How To Get A Design Patent

How to Get a Design Patent (From Drafting to Application)



22 May 20245 min read

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How to Get a Design Patent (From Drafting to Application)

In today's competitive market, the look of a product can be as crucial as its function.

Protecting your product's unique visual design with a design patent ensures that others cannot copy its appearance without your permission.

This article provides a concise guide on a design patent, the requirements for obtaining one, the patenting process, and the differences between design and utility patents.

Additionally, we offer tips to speed up the patent process, helping you secure protection for your innovative designs more efficiently.

But first, what is a design patent?

A design patent is a form of legal protection granted to the ornamental design of a functional item.

Unlike a utility patent, which covers the invention's functionality and usefulness, a design patent protects an item's unique visual qualities and aesthetics.

This type of patent ensures that the product's visual appearance cannot be copied or imitated without the inventor's permission.

What are the requirements to qualify for a design patent?

To qualify for a design patent, an invention must meet several essential requirements:

  • Novelty: The design must be new and original. It should not have been publicly disclosed, used, or sold before the filing date of the patent application.
  • Non-obviousness: The design must not be evident to someone with ordinary skills in the relevant field.
  • Ornamental: The design must be purely ornamental, not functional. It should enhance the product's aesthetic appeal.
  • Definiteness: The design must be clearly and distinctly represented in the drawings included in the patent application.

What is the process of patenting a design?

The process of obtaining patent protection for a design involves several steps:

  • Preparation: Conduct a patent search to ensure your design is unique and has not been previously patented. This can be done through the USPTO database or with the help of a patent attorney.
  • Application: Prepare and file a design patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application must include detailed design drawings, a description, and claims.
  • Examination: After filing, the USPTO will review the application to ensure it meets all requirements. This examination includes checking for novelty and non-obviousness.
  • Response to office actions: If the USPTO issues an office action (a document detailing any objections or rejections), you must respond to address these issues. This may involve amending the application or providing additional information.
  • Approval: The design patent will be granted once the USPTO is satisfied with the application.

Want to learn more? Read our article: Patent Filing 101: Simplifying the Patent Filing Process.

How to get a patent search done

To conduct a design patent search, start by using online databases such as the USPTO PatFT and Google Patents

Search by relevant classifications identified through the USPTO’s Manual of Classification and use broad and specific keywords to ensure a comprehensive search. 

Review the search results carefully, comparing similar designs to your own to assess their uniqueness.

Additionally, check international databases like the European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) if you seek broader protection.

Consider hiring a patent attorney or a professional search firm for a more thorough search and expert guidance. 

This approach will help you confirm the uniqueness of your design and prepare for patent protection.

How do I get patent drawings done?

To get patent drawings done, start by familiarizing yourself with USPTO guidelines for patent drawings, which specify standards for:

  • Size,
  • Margins,
  • Labeling,
  • And clarity.

Consider hiring a professional patent draftsman specializing in creating patent drawings, ensuring they meet all requirements.

If you prefer to do it yourself, use specialized software like AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, or patent-specific tools.

Provide detailed information about your invention, including dimensions and features, to the draftsman or use it for reference.

Precise sketches, photos, or 3D models can be helpful.

Review the initial drawings for accuracy and make necessary revisions to ensure clarity and compliance with USPTO guidelines.

Verify that the final drawings meet all requirements, including proper labeling and clearly depicting all aspects of the invention.

For a comprehensive understanding, include multiple views of your invention, such as top, side, and perspective views.

Once the drawings are complete and verified, include them in your patent application, ensuring they are correctly formatted and compliant.

How are design patents different from utility patents?

Design patents and utility patents protect different aspects of an invention:

  1. Design patents: Protect an item's ornamental design. They’re concerned with its appearance and aesthetic aspects.
  2. Utility patent: Protect the functional aspects of an invention. They cover new and useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter.

The application process, requirements, and duration of protection also differ.

Unlike a utility patent application, design patent applications typically have a shorter duration of protection (15 years from the date of grant) compared to utility patents (20 years from the filing date).

How long does it take to get design patents at the USPTO?

The time it takes to obtain a design patent can vary, but it generally ranges from 12 to 18 months.

This timeline includes the initial filing, examination, and any necessary responses to office actions.

How do you speed up the design patent process?

To expedite the design patent process, consider the following strategies:

  • Prioritized examination: You can request a prioritized examination through the USPTO's Track One program, which can significantly reduce the waiting time.
  • Complete and accurate application: Ensure your application is thorough and error-free. Detailed and precise drawings and descriptions can prevent delays.
  • Professional assistance: Hiring a patent attorney or agent can help you navigate the process more efficiently and address any issues promptly.
  • Timely responses: Respond quickly and comprehensively to any office actions or requests from the USPTO.

By following these steps, you can effectively streamline the process and increase the chances of obtaining a design patent promptly.

The design patent application process

In conclusion, obtaining a design patent requires:

  • Careful preparation,
  • A thorough understanding of the requirements,
  • And timely actions throughout the application process.

By differentiating between design and utility patents and utilizing strategies to expedite the process, you can protect your invention's unique visual elements and enhance its market value.

Ready to protect your patent? Contact a registered patent attorney at Patent Express by Trademarkia and secure your intellectual property today.


How much does it cost to patent a design?

The cost to patent a design in the US starts at just $800 with Patent Express.

How do you qualify for a design patent?

To qualify for a design patent, the design must be new, original, and ornamental. It should not have been disclosed to the public prior to filing and must not be obvious to someone skilled in the relevant field.

Are design patents hard to get?

Design patents are generally easier to obtain than utility patents because they focus on a product's visual rather than functional aspects. However, they still require a thorough application process and examination.

Can I sell a design without a patent?

Yes, you can sell a design without a patent, but having a design patent can provide legal protection against others copying or using your design without permission.

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