December 17, 2020

The fees paid to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over the lifetime of a design patent are typically less than 10% of those paid over the lifetime of a utility patent. Speed is another benefit. In many cases, obtaining an issued design patent averages 1.4 months after filing. In addition to cost and time benefits, design patents bring value to any Intellectual Property portfolio. They form a bridge of unique rights between branding strategy and utility patent strategy. Design patents protect the user-facing aspects of technology and products, often the first features copied by competitors. Even products that are not visually appealing to an end-user benefit from design patent protection, as design patents are:

  • Stronger in withstanding invalidity challenges,
  • Less complex to enforce, and
  • Have higher potential damages than utility patents. 

Additionally, design patents may be used in alternative enforcement, including removing infringing listings from online platforms. Whether on a budget, launching new product lines, targeting competitors, or building a portfolio, design patents should be part of any IP strategy.

On November 1, 2020, our IP Department launched the Product Design and User Interface Practice. Led by Taryn A. Elliott, the Product Design and User Interface Practice emphasizes the growing interest in intellectual property protection for the look and feel of products, as well as the layout and animation of software and other technologies emphasizing user experience and interaction. The Product Design and User Interface Practice leverages the high value add of design patents in developing comprehensive IP portfolios with complementary assets. Design patents are relatively inexpensive and quick to obtain relative to utility patents. They are also versatile in enforcement and have higher potential damages than utility patents. With the significant value design patents bring relative to the low cost, any IP strategy should consider design patents.

The Product Design and User Interface Practice has expertise in integrating design patents into a comprehensive portfolio, including complementary utility patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.

Holding more than 90 technical degrees, our attorneys have prepared and prosecuted thousands of U.S. and foreign design patents across a wide range of industries, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Consumer products
  • User interfaces
  • Vehicles and robotics
  • Medical devices
  • Pharmaceuticals and delivery devices
  • Digital health
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion
  • Heavy equipment and industry systems

Our design services go beyond preparation and prosecution to include advice regarding validity, infringement and freedom-to-operate as well as agreement, due diligence and enforcement-related services. Similar to our customized approach to obtaining design protection, we tailor our enforcement strategy to the particular market, competitive landscape and client goals. In addition to representing clients in the enforcement and defense of their designs through litigation in various court and administrative proceedings, we work with our clients to enforce their intellectual property through border enforcement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, takedown notices to ecommerce platforms, and international proceedings and seizures, among other enforcement mechanisms.

Contact Us
For more information on how we can help your business, please reach out to Taryn Elliott.

Additional Resources

USPTO Fee Schedule

USPTO Design Data October 2020