Industrial design rights are obtained when you get a design patent. This type of patent protects the aesthetic design of something with a practical purpose. A design patent is one of the strongest protections you can get for your product, but it is also more challenging to get. The design patent itself requires a twofold analysis that allows you to get protection for your products and additional enforcement procedures to prevent people from stealing your design.

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Requirements for a Getting a Design Patent

The design patent doesn't require that you have a novel functioning invention, but it has to have an aesthetic or visual design. Fortunately, the Industrial Design Office won't base its decision on how good it looks. It will base it on the aesthetic aspect and its originality. Remember that it can't just be a functional design, though. Some artistic components must be involved or else a design patent is a bad choice.

How to Register a Design Patent

Registration requires two stages. First, you have to provide written information about the design. The second stage involves diagrams and descriptions. The design patent won't be issued until both are complete. Currently, it takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Once you get the design patent, your patent will last five years. You can renew it in the last six months of your five year term, but you can only renew it once. The design patent only lasts for 14 years, but you will still have other protections. In some cases, you can request an extension if you can demonstrate the value and the importance of the patent as well as the continuing demand. Otherwise, the USPTO will consider the other protections offered through copyright law to be sufficient.

Once you have registered and received your industrial design patent, you will have an even stronger legal base to prevent people from using your designs. Additionally, you can request full damages and legal fee reimbursements in some states if you win the case.

Getting an industrial design patent can be rewarding, but it can be complicated, too. It’s smart to speak to a patent attorney early in the process. Visit our Intellectual Property Center for more help.

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