By Debby Winters
The first examination to undertake is to understand what a design patent is and how it differs from a utility patent.
U.S. design patents cover the ornamental design of an object having practical utility. The subject matter claimed is the design embodied in or applied to the article and not the article itself. In other words, the subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation. In contrast to a utility patent that protects the way an article is used and works, a design patent protects the way an article looks.
I am often asked whether a client should seek a design or a utility patent. While it depends on the invention, a U.S. design patent provides a number of advantages when compared to a U.S. utility patent. First, design patents have a higher allowance rate. Second, design patents have a faster time to final resolution. Finally, design applications are typically less than half the cost of utility applications due to their expedited prosecution and the limited specification required in design patent applications.
The five areas for our discussion on best practices will focus around the following:
- Know the Subject Matter Qualifications
- Drawing Quality is Key
- Figure Views Should be Consistent
- Use of Solid vs. Broken (Phantom) Lines
- Include Additional Embodiments
We will discuss each in a separate blog post starting with the first so keep reading!