There are three types of patents recognized by the U.S. government: design patents, utility patents and plant patents. Owning one of these patents gives you the legal right to refrain someone from making, selling, using or importing the invention without your authorization.
A design patent protects the “surface ornamentation” or the design of your invention. The design of an object includes the appearance, its shape or its configuration. Filing for a design patent is relatively easy and no maintenance fee is required to keep it in force. However, design patents very narrowly protect only the appearance of an object, while utility patents protect how something operates and how it is constructed.
What are the requirements for a design patent application?
The following elements are needed in applying for a design patent.
- The preamble. The preamble contains the name of the inventor, a title for the design and a summary of the object or article that has been linked with the design.
- The figure descriptions. This illustrates what each view of the design embodies. The application usually includes numerous views to easily disclose its appearance.
- A single claim. The claim typically refers to the drawings to describe what is to be protected.
Black or white photographs and drawings. The drawings are the most essential elements of a design application and every application must have them. The USTPO also accepts color drawings and photographs but one must file a petition to explain why they are necessary.