Design patents are a unique form of intellectual property, legally protecting original designs from being copied by competitors. They provide an especially important economic layer of protection for small businesses, creative entrepreneurs, fashion designers, and inventors in Texas. If you're looking for legal counsel on protecting your design patent, there are several attorneys and firms who understand the local regulation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

For those new to the process of protecting their design, this article provides an overview of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding design patent law. We'll cover the basics of what design patents are, how to get one, the cost associated with obtaining a design patent, and how to enforce your design patents. We'll also discuss the limitations of design patents and the different types of design patent applications you might need.

What is a Design Patent?

A design patent is a monopoly granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Design patents are usually for a product’s aesthetic — a new configuration or shape, or a combination of features — not a functional feature, such as an improved or novel design for a component.

The purpose of a design patent is to protect the appearance or look of something for sand exclusive authority to commercially exploit the idea. A design patent holder has the right to make, use, sell, and import the claimed design, thus protecting it from competitors.

How Do I Get a Design Patent?

To get a design patent, you must first research to make sure that your design isn’t already patented by someone else. If it is, then your patent application will likely be rejected. After that, you must prepare a patent application that describes what makes your design new and different.

The application must include drawings depicting the design, as well as detailed descriptions of the design. Finally, you must file the application with the USPTO, and wait for the filing fee to be paid. Once that is done, the USPTO will review your application and either grant or reject the patent depending on the merits of the design.

What Does a Design Patent Cost?

The cost of a design patent can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the design and the amount of time spent preparing and filing the application. Generally, filing fees range from $500 to $2,000, depending on whether the application is filed electronically or by mail. Additionally, depending on your attorney’s rates, you may expect to pay for their legal services as well.

How Do You Enforce A Design Patent?

If a competitor infringes on your patent-protected design, you can file a lawsuit in a U.S. district court. During the lawsuit you will need to prove that the defendant actually infringed on your design and that the design is indeed covered by the patent. The court may then award damages to the patent holder or issue an injunction stopping the defendant from using the design.

What Are the Limitations of Design Patents?

Design patents are limited in scope, since they only apply to the design or look of something, and cannot be used to protect any functional features of the product. Additionally, the protection that they provide is limited in duration, as design patents are only valid for 14 years after they are granted and cannot be renewed.

What Are the Different Types Of Design Patent Applications?

The USPTO offers two types of design patent applications: a regular design application and a provisional design application. A regular design application is similar to other patent applications, requiring a written description of your design and drawings. A provisional design application is less formal and is accepted if you’re unsure about patenting your design. Provisional design applications are not examined, but can be used to preserve your patent-filing date.


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