A design patent is a patent for a visual characteristic (or characteristics) that are either embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture. Meaning, it protects the visual and ornamental characteristic of an article and not the functional ones. Furthermore, a design patent protects only what is depicted in the patent application. It is essential to make the drawings as detailed and accurate as possible because the approval and protection of your design depends on the drawing you submit.
Subject Matter of a Design Patent
A design patent application may point to the configuration/shape of the article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to both the configuration/shape and surface ornamentation. An ornamental design can be embodied in the entire article, can cover a portion of the article, or can be applied to the article as surface ornamentation. Surface ornamentation cannot be separated from an article and it cannot exist as an article by itself.
Improper Subject Matter for a Design Patent
A design that is dictated by its function is not proper subject matter for a design patent Conversely, a design that is not dictated by its function but has no unique or distinctive shape or appearance will also be considered improper subject matter. Designs which mimic a well-known or naturally occurring object or person are deemed improper subject matter. As are any designs that might be considered offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group, or nationality.
Multiple Design Patents
You should consider separating the parts of your design into multiple applications because this makes the design more protectable. Design patent applications may only have a single claim for each independent and distinct design. Designs are considered independent and distinct if they are unrelated to one another OR if they are related but have a different shape and/or appearance from one another. You may file modified forms or embodiments of a single design concept in one application.
Consulting A Professional for Drawings
Furthermore, you should consider retaining the services of a professional who specializes in preparing design patent drawings. The claim in a design patent protects the visual appearance. Therefore, it is essential that the drawings are clear and conform to the rules and standards of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. An incomplete or poor drawing can result in either the rejection of or the incomplete protection of your design. Therefore, getting a professional can facilitate your application and maximize your protection.
Consulting a Professional for Applying
Finally, because obtaining a design patent requires knowledge of patent law and the rules of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it is advisable to consult or obtain the services of a registered patent attorney or agent to facilitate the process and get the greatest amount of protection to which you are entitled.