A design patent example is a document you can review before filing a design patent application. They rely on words and images to convey how a design for a manufactured item is non-obvious and new. These examples can be used to help you when filing your application.

A design patent covers the ornamental elements of an item's appearance. However, it does not include the product's function or utility. This type of patent provides protection for 14 years, compared with 20 years for the more common utility patent.

Inventors often don't know when to file for a design patent. One design patent example is the iMac, a popular computer used in schools and by individuals in the late 1990s. It didn't qualify for a utility patent because it was not the first computer sold to educational institutions or people. But it showed off a unique shape complemented with bright colors. Therefore, it received a design patent for its rounded triangle shape.

As a result of receiving that design patent, no other electronics manufacturers could copy the iMac's shape. Buyers who wanted that item had to buy it only from Apple.

Another common industry that holds many design patents is the fashion industry. Top clothing design companies file for patents on the unique designs of their items.

Why Are Design Patent Examples Important?

Reviewing a design patent example will help you know what you need to do before filing your own patent application. You can also look at designs that qualified for design patents. This will help you get an idea of what a design patent will cover.

Every inventor should review design patent examples before filing applications. It's important to finalize your design before you start reviewing other design patents. If you only have an idea, what you read in other patents might subconsciously influence you. Don't allow the design patent examples to change what you plan to do for your design.

The overall benefits of using design patent examples are worth the time it takes. You can perform a patent search using various keywords relating to your idea. However, some web portals won't offer as extensive of a search as one a patent lawyer can perform. If you're seriously considering filing for a design patent, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to help you.

You can perform a quick search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Full-Text Database to review design patent examples. Enter a single letter in the Term 1 box. Then select Patent Number in Field 1. This simple search will produce design patents that the USPTO approved. It features the patents in order of most recently granted.

A qualified patent attorney will analyze your design and compare it to existing design patents. He or she can also go through any existing patents to help you determine if you want to make changes to yours. The process also includes looking at design patent examples to make sure you have enough information to create a good case.

What Is the Deadline for Reviewing Design Patent Examples?

No deadline exists for reviewing design patent examples. However, there is a deadline for filing an application for a design patent. If you release your design on a public scale, you will have a 12-month period to submit an application. If you fail to file that application within the time frame, you lose the chance to file for a design patent.

The public release of a design includes showing your item at a trade show or other industry event, as well as publishing information about it in print.

What Could Happen When You Don't Review a Design Patent Example?

If you don't look at a design patent example, you may submit your application incorrectly. You also won't have any information on what specific items qualified for a design patent in the past. Looking at examples helps inventors know exactly what to include with the application. The process will also help you get a better sense of what is protected by a design patent.

You may find that a single design patent isn't enough to cover all the aspects of your design. Review design patent examples with multiple patents, as well as those that have only one. Understanding the ins and outs of a design patent and the application process will make it feel less overwhelming.

What Are Some Common Design Patent Mistakes?

New inventors may make these errors when applying for a design patent:

  • Not reviewing enough design patent examples. If you just look at one or two, it won't give you the information you need.
  • Failing to review design patent examples similar to yours. If there are a few that share some aspects in common with your idea, it won't take too long to review them. But even if there are thousands of others, you need to set aside the time to look at all of them. Reviewing these examples will help you know whether your idea qualifies as unique enough for a design patent.

If you don't want to spend that much time, consider hiring a patent lawyer. Working with a skilled legal professional includes a full review of other design patents and pending applications. The cost is more, but it will save you a lot of time. Your attorney will also have more access to resources you might not be able to see.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I find a design patent example?

Several online resources and databases contain design patent examples. You can look at sample applications. These will often include the documentation and drawings that you'll need to send with your application. You can also review examples of granted design patents. You should do an extensive search of a patent database to compare any similar ones to your idea.

  • How many design patent examples should I review?

There is no set number of design patent examples an inventor should review. If you do choose to work with a patent lawyer, he or she can perform a more thorough review. If you're filing on your own, you may want to look at as many examples as you can find.

These samples will help you understand the process of filing for a design patent. They also show you what you need to include with the application. Without the required documents, your application won't go through quickly — possibly not at all.

  • What is the cost to look at a design patent example?

Some websites and databases offer free access to design patent examples. But without access to an extensive database, you may miss seeing patents similar to your design. Working with a patent lawyer for a design patent will often cost between $1,500 and $3,000. It could be more expensive if your idea is very complex.

Design Patent Examples

Some design patent examples include:

  • Staircase
  • iPod Shuffle
  • Crocs (shoes)
  • Messenger bag
  • Mouse (for computer)
  • Binder with zipper
  • Toy bank (toilet shape)

What Are the Steps to File a Design Patent?

Design patent examples of applications and guides are available on many different sites, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It's always worthwhile to compare your design idea to at least one design patent example to make sure it doesn't already exist. You can also learn from other inventors by reviewing the information they include in their design patent applications.

The current base filing fee for a design patent is $390, which does not include associated legal fees. Your application must include drawings that clearly show the unique design for which you are seeking patent protection. Reference numbers may not be used. Unlike a utility patent, which can include a number of claims, a design patent only protects one claim (the object's appearance).

After you file the patent, it will be reviewed by an examiner to determine whether your design qualifies for a patent. If they approve the application, you will receive notice from the USPTO and will be required to pay a patent issue fee.

What Are Specifications?

The specification is the written statement included with your design patent application. It is structured as follows:

  • Preamble: A short, standard introduction to indicate that you are seeking design patent protection.
  • Specification: Introduce the name of your design, which should be basic yet descriptive.
  • Cross-reference to related applications if you have filed previous design patents associated with this one
  • An indication of whether the research and development of the design was federally sponsored
  • Description of the figures and drawings included
  • Description of the unique design features
  • A statement claiming rights to the design

Should I Apply for a Design Patent?

Inventors often seek patent protection for a design for these reasons:

  • Less expensive than a utility patent
  • Allows "patent pending" to be legally used
  • Provides protection for aesthetically appealing items
  • Easier to receive approval than for a utility patent (95 percent granted compared with 50 percent)
  • The application process is much shorter than for a utility patent (about a year compared with three years or more)

You may not want to seek a design patent if:

  • You want to protect the function of your invention, not its appearance.
  • You want the longer duration of protection offered by a utility patent.
  • You do not want to pay for more expensive drawings.
  • You want to protect multiple designs for a single product.

The importance and the need for the design patent example may leave you with some added questions. Go to UpCounsel's marketplace and ask the top 5 percent of lawyers. With law backgrounds from schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, lawyers on UpCounsel will always use their experience and knowledge to work for your benefit.