The Power of Design Patent Protection for Inventors

Design patents are part of a strong intellectual property strategy.Design patent protection should be part of your intellectual property strategy.

When you think of patent protection, often the first type of patent you think of are utility patents. A utility patent focuses solely on the inner workings of your invention, its unique functions and overall usefulness. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 90% of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents. There is no denying that utility patents are at the forefront of inventors and company’s minds.

However, there is much to be said for design patents. A design patent focuses on the exterior design, features and overall aesthetics of the product. By protecting the exterior of your product with design patents you drastically reduce knockoff and secondary market opportunities.

When it comes to having a strong patent strategy, utility and design patents go hand-in-hand.

How does a Design Patent work?

Design patents focus on the exterior design, features and overall aesthetics of the product. It is important to note that design patents extend to what is exactly shown in the line drawings, nothing more. For this reason, some products may require multiple design patents. Each design patent would cover a specific physical feature of the product. For example, a car would require multiple design patents because of the size and scope of the invention.

Having high-quality professional line drawings by a CAD designer is extremely advantageous. With a design patent, you are able to use the coveted phrases, patent pending and patent issued on all marketing material, and have confidence that your invention is protected for the next fourteen years.

There is Speed with Design Patents

“A design patent can in many instances be awarded in as few as six to nine months. If obtaining some protection is important for an overall marketing strategy, getting at least some protection quickly may be advantageous compared to waiting the two to three years it will likely take to obtain a utility patent.” (IP Watchdog)

Utility patents take a considerable amount of time to obtain and are costly. With a design patent, you get some IP protection for your invention at a fraction of the time and cost.

Design Patents Limit Product Knockoffs

From IP Watchdog: “Another reason a design patent is useful is because there is a possibility of obtaining a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent infringement, which is not possible with a utility patent. The scenario goes like this— a design patent is issued covering a consumer product. That product captures the attention of copyists who attend a trade show with a knockoff device marketed under their own brand. If the owner has a utility patent that covers the product, a determination of infringement would require a claim construction, and a TRO is simply not going to be obtainable. If, however, a design patent is being infringed, the district court judge must only look at the design drawings versus pictures of the allegedly infringing device. If the judge determines there is likely infringement, a TRO is ordered, and Federal Marshals are dispatched to confiscate the infringing products.”

A strong intellectual property strategy should include both utility and design patent protection to protect your invention and thwart knockoff opportunities. When it comes to intellectual property it is always best to consult a licensed Patent Attorney to help you formulate an intellectual property strategy for your business.


3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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May 2024

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