If you have created something unique, you want to stop others from using your design for personal or commercial gain. Many products are recognized for their iconic designs, so copying them is generally seen as an attempt to fool consumers who think they are buying an original. You can lose market share and profits if another company infringes on your design.
You can apply for a patent, trademark, or copyright, depending on what intellectual property you wish to protect. And you can apply for more than one form of protection for the same piece. If you are protecting a product’s function, you will focus on a utility patent. If you are protecting the way a product looks, a Georgia design patent lawyer can help you. Reach out to the skilled attorneys at Sparks Law to discuss how we can secure your hard work and innovation.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assigns an examiner to review all necessary information for a product to qualify for a design patent. For example, a painting is a product uniquely designed by the artist. However, a painting will not qualify for a design patent because it is not a product useful in the marketplace and cannot be repeated. The artist’s painting is only eligible for copyright protection. On the other hand, the design of a modern iMac attaches to a useful product that is repeatedly manufactured, so this design does qualify for a design patent.
Other requirements for a design patent include the following:
Another requirement includes designs in conjunction with digital devices. Software layouts, fonts, emojis, and other designs are only protected on a computer or handheld device screen. A knowledgeable patent attorney in Georgia can further discuss what constitutes an invention with a unique and helpful design.
A design patent is usually granted within twelve months of application but can be denied if the application is incomplete or incorrectly submitted. A Georgia attorney will help an inventor avoid mistakes that can delay the issuance of a design patent.
A critical step in applying for a patent is conducting a prior art search, also known as a patent search. An inventor must be sure no other person or company already owns the rights to the design.
A design patent only has one claim (as opposed to a utility patent that can have several). One variation to a patented design means another design patent is in order. Detailed drawings that accompany a design patent application are crucial because the patent is strictly based on what is shown in the drawings.
Inventors who own design patent rights can license the design to other companies who wish to profit from the design. For example, Disney has licensed its characters to numerous companies that produce clothing, toys, and collectibles, among other things. The licensee pays a fee to use the design.
Sometimes, a company releases a similar item and is forced into court for patent infringement. When Samsung copied Apple’s iPhone, the company landed in Federal Court and owed $900 million after losing the case to Apple. The Courts rely on the ordinary observer test to decide design patent infringement cases. The jurors compare the patent to the product alleged to be infringing, and if they believe consumers could be fooled, they will decide for the plaintiff.
You may have considered a utility patent to protect how your invention works. You should also consider protecting the way it looks with a design patent.
Patenting a design follows a process sanctioned by the USPTO. You must make sure another patent does not exist for a like or similar product, and you must submit detailed drawings of your design. A Georgia design patent lawyer will help you meet those requirements and stop any unauthorized company from exploiting your work. Call Sparks Law today for your initial consultation.