Design patents are one of the most complicated areas of law in the United States, and Los Angeles business owners can find themselves running into questions about them that they don’t have the answers to. Fortunately, UpCounsel’s excellent lawyer community can provide the right information on design patent law. Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions that business owners in Los Angeles often have about design patents.

What is a Design Patent?

A design patent is a form of Intellectual Property right that is used to protect the appearance of a product or product component. Design patents are not used to protect the functionality of products, as that is generally protected by utility patents. Design patents are very important for businesses that rely on aesthetic appeal as part of their success, such as fashion or jewelry companies.

How Long does a Design Patent Last?

Design patents have a term of 14 years from the date that the patent is issued. The patent term can be extended by up to five years in certain circumstances, such as if the patent is used on a product that is not commercialized. Once the term of the patent expires, the design is no longer subject to legal protection and can be copied or modified without any legal consequences.

What Can I Protect With a Design Patent?

Design patents can be used to protect any kind of product, not just ones that are related to fashion or jewelry. Basically, if there is something about the product that gives it a unique aesthetic that can be represented visually, then you can potentially get a design patent for it. Common examples of products that design patents can be used for include furniture, appliances, toys, and other consumer goods.

How do I Apply for a Design Patent?

The process for applying for a design patent is relatively involved, and it’s best to use a lawyer who is experienced in the process. That said, the basic steps of the application process are as follows. First, you’ll need to search to make sure that your design isn’t already protected by a patent or copyright. If not, you’ll then need to prepare a detailed description and drawings of the design, as well as pay the relevant application fees. After that, you’ll need to file the application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and wait for the USPTO to review it.

Can I modify a Design Patented Product?

Generally, yes. You can modify a design patent-protected product as long as you don’t infringe on the design patent itself. For example, you can make changes to a design patent-protected chair that do not affect the overall appearance of the chair (such as a modification that increases its comfort or stability). However, you cannot copy the chair design or make changes that significantly alter its visual appearance.

Can I Sue Someone for Infringing on my Design Patent?

Yes, you can. If you discover that someone is infringing on your design patent, you can take legal action, such as filing a lawsuit or sending a cease and desist letter. In such cases, it’s important to work with a lawyer who is well-versed in design patent law, as the process can be tricky.


Design Patent,


Intellectual Property