If you're a business based in Chicago and you're looking to protect your product design, you may be considering a design patent—which offers monopoly rights on a new, original, and ornamental design for a manufactured product. Not only can a design patent prevent others from copying the look of the product, but it can also preserve the product's value and increase your profits in the long-term.

If this is your first time attempting to obtain a design patent, you might be unsure of where to begin. The enormous amount of paperwork including drawings, applications, and official documents can be intimidating. However, whether you plan to pursue a design patent independently or with the help of a professional, there are some core steps you should take to start the process. In this article, we’ll discuss how to begin and include helpful resources to guide your design patent journey.

Research and Evaluate Your Design

Before you start the application process, you’ll need to determine what is eligible for patent protection. Patents apply to a unique and never before used design, and cannot simply protect a simplistic implementation, such as a grocery shopping cart with a bendable handle.

It’s important to know what isn’t eligible for a patent, as designs that don’t meet the standard won’t be approved. To figure out if your product can receive a design patent, it’s recommended to conduct prior search, which you can bypass if you talk to a patent lawyer or patent agent who can provide an expert opinion.

Hybrid Matter is a design publication that includes helpful resources and guides when patenting a design. They discuss the definition of a design patent and how to determine if your design is eligible. Additionally, the publication talks about differences between a design and utility patents and details different approaches you can take when searching existing designs.

Drawings and Specifications

You’ll need to include multiple line drawings of your design when submitting your application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The drawings need to include front, side, top, and bottom views of the device, and preferably, they’ll be in black and white and at least half of an inch in size.

Since an examiner will review the drawings at a later date, it’s essential that each one accurately reflects the features of the design that are essential for the patent. It’s recommended to present as many aspects of the invention as possible, but you don’t want to include too many details that could present questions and cause confusion.

In addition to the line drawings, a written description of the design is also required, in which you provide a more extensive explanation of the product and its features. While visual representations provide insight, using words is the only option for explaining functional elements and the features unique to the design. Geometrical description and shape information can be included to supplement the drawings.

Government Fees, Response Forms, and Texts

Once you’ve finished researching and preparing your submission, you’ll need to submit your application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This includes submitting all drawings, specifications, fees, and additional documents to the relevant branch.

Make sure to leave yourself enough time to assemble the documents and submit an application—depending on the workload of the Patent Office, it can take multiple weeks to process an application. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, an application's processing time can take anywhere between eight and twenty-four months.

Before submission, it’s recommended to consult your application packet—which includes instructions and forms—provided by the Patent Office. The instructions contain a full list of the documents required for entry, as well as the government fees associated with the application. As stated on the USPTO website, the government fees are based on the size and nature of the entity filing the application, as well as the category in which the design is classified.

Hiring a Professional

Finally, another route you can take when obtaining a design patent is hiring a professional to facilitate the process. A patent lawyer is experienced when it comes to drafting patent applications, filing, presenting responses, appealing rejections, and much more.

With the help of a professional, the application process and filing will occur faster and will contain fewer chances for errors.

If you decide to pursue a design patent in Chicago, UpCounsel has a network of highly experienced lawyers that understand local regulations. With UpCounsel, you can access lawyers on demand and find attorneys with prior experience that match your needs. Each UpCounsel lawyer profile include ratings from past clients and reviews of recent work, so you know what to expect when you hire a professional.


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