What is a design patent and is it necessary?

Different types of patents protect different aspects of an invention.  A design patent protects the ornamental aspect, or the visual design, and it lasts for 15 years from the date it’s granted.  It’s not to be confused with the more widely known utility patent, which covers the utility or use of an invention and lasts 20 years from the provisional application filing date.  Inventors may file both types of applications for the same invention to cover both the look and use.  In some cases, it’s not possible to obtain a utility patent, so inventors opt for the protection that the design patent conveys.

What criteria does your invention need to meet to get a design patent?

  • Your invention must be novel.
  • It should be non-obvious, meaning that it’s not just a modification of an existing design.
  • It should be ornamental and non-functional, focusing on the aesthetics of the invention and not the use.

Do I need a design patent if I have the copyright?

While both design patents and copyrights offer intellectual property protection, they do so for different types of creative works. Design patents focus on the visual and ornamental aspects of functional items, while copyrights protect a broader range of creative expressions in various forms. Understanding which type of protection is appropriate for your work depends on the nature of the work and the aspects you wish to safeguard. In some cases, creators may use both design patents and copyrights to protect different aspects of their creations.

Gearhart Law has expertise in all areas of Intellectual Property and can help you formulate an IP strategy to get effective protection for your inventions while keeping costs in mind.

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