US Design Patents
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14 May 2009
A patent for an invention is the grant of
a property right to the
inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which
the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in
special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed,
subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are
effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S.
possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or
adjustments may be available.
The right conferred by the patent grant
is, in the language of the
statute and of the grant itself, "the right to exclude others from
making, using, offering for sale, or selling" the invention in the
United States or "importing" the invention into the United States. What
is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or
import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering
for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued,
the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.
There are three types of patents:
1) Utility patents may be granted to
anyone who invents or discovers
any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or
composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
2) Design patents may be granted to anyone
who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of
3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone
who invents or discovers and
asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
Therefore, unlike the UK where Registered
Design Protection is
available separate to a patent, in the U.S., to protect a design, a
patent application is necessary.
The patent laws provide for the granting
of design patents to any
person who has invented any new and non obvious ornamental design for
an article of manufacture. The design patent protects only the
appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional
features. The proceedings relating to granting of design patents are
the same as those relating to other patents with a few differences. A
design patent has a term of 14 years from grant, and no fees are
necessary to maintain a design patent in force. If on examination it is
determined that an applicant is entitled to a design patent under the
law, a notice of allowance will be sent to the applicant or applicant's
attorney, or agent, calling for the payment of an issue fee. The
drawing of the design patent conforms to the same rules as other
drawings, but no reference characters are allowed and the drawing
should clearly depict the appearance, since the drawing defines the
scope of patent protection. The specification of a design application
is short and ordinarily follows a set form. Only one claim is
permitted, following a set form that refers to the drawing(s).
Only specialised patent attorneys can file
patent applications at the USPTO.
For more information about protecting your
design in the U.S., please contact this office.
About the Author
offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts,
Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with
a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law.
Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the
Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the
appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world,
the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-05-19 15:50:16 in Legal Articles