Design patents allow inventors to protect new and unique designs that they’ve created. Obtaining a design patent allows the patent holder to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented design to the United States for a limited period of time (15 years from the date the USPTO grants a design patent application). So, is it worth it to protect your design using a design patent?
Are Design Patents Worth It?
Design patents are worth it if you have a design that makes your product or article sell. Said differently, if your design encourages your customers to purchase your product, then obtaining a design patent for your product may be worth investing your time and money.
Obtaining a design patent requires an inventor of a new design to prepare and file a design patent application with the patent office. Preparing a design patent application should only be done by a professional because the patent office has a lot of requirements that must be met before they grant you a design patent.
Making even small mistakes in your design patent application can cost you a lot of money to fix down the road, so it’s important to get it right from the getgo.
Design patents are much quicker and easier to obtain than utility patents, making them great for protecting designs that earn you money. Some designs can be protected by copyright law, but patenting them offers much stronger IP protection.
Restrict Others From Using Your Invention
The main reason a design patent is worth it is that it allows the patent holder to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing an article that bears his patented design without his permission.
By being able to restrict who uses your invention, a patent holder may be able to use, make, and sell the patented invention (design) without having his competitors copy his design and sell it on their own.
If a design patent holder’s competitors copy his design, the patent holder will be able to bring a lawsuit against them for patent infringement. If successful in his lawsuit, the patent holder may be able to obtain an injunction prohibiting his competitors from making and selling his design.
Licensing Your Invention
The second reason why a design patent is worth it is that the design patent holder can license the patented design to others for use in exchange for a royalty or agreed-upon fee.
Having a design patent makes it easier for the patent holder to license his invention (design) because the licensee knows exactly what he is getting since the patented design is published once the patent office grants a design patent application.
Freely Exploiting Your Patented Design
The third reason why a design patent is worth it is that it allows the patent holder to freely use his design without having to worry about the theft of his patented design.
That said, it is not the USPTO’s job to police a patent holder’s patent, the patent holder must look for people making unauthorized use of his invention and ask them to stop such use. If they refuse to do so, the patent holder can bring a lawsuit against them.
For many people having a patent alone discourages them from using a patent holder’s invention without his permission, but there are bad actors who ignore patents and use the patented invention, make it, and sell it without the patent holder’s permission.
Such bad actors can be dealt with by the patent holder bringing a lawsuit in Federal District Court for patent infringement. If successful, the patent holder will be able to stop their infringing use and recover any damages he sustained as a result of it.
Why Are Design Patents Not Worth It?
Amount of Time it Takes is Long (This Tip Will Speed up the Process)
Some would say that design patents are not worth it because the patent office in the United States takes too long to review a design patent application and grant the patent.
While it’s true that if you do file a design patent application in the United States, it takes the patent office 20 months to grant your design patent application. However, here is a secret from Patent Rebel that will get your design patent approved way quicker.
The patent office offers a service known as Rocket Docket that allows design patent applicants to expedite their patent application so that it is approved in under 6 months. Some reports claim to have had their design patent application approved in as little as 4 months.
However, expediting a design patent application like anything you do at the patent office costs money. If you want to expedite your design patent application, you should expect to pay an additional $500 to do so.
Cost of a Design Patent
Patenting an invention can be a costly endeavor, especially if you hire an experienced patent attorney to prepare and file your design patent application for you.
If you have a simple straightforward design that you want to patent, you should expect to pay a patent attorney $2,500 to $3,500 to prepare your design patent application in addition to the patenting fees that must be paid to the patent office.
We know that for some inventors these fees may be very high, but for a person who has a product that sells very well, it may be worth it to pursue a design patent to protect its appearance so that the patent holder can stop competitors from copying and selling a similar product that has the same design.
Defending Your Patent Rights
As we mentioned earlier, patenting your design does mean that you can just sit back and wait for the patent office to enforce your rights. As a design patent holder, you need to constantly look for bad actors who are using your design without your permission and ask them to stop misusing your intellectual property.
Bad actors often do not respond to a cease and desist order, so design patent holders may often have to bring a lawsuit against them and if you’ve ever dealt with a patent attorney, you probably know that their services do not come cheap.
So, this is just something that you should keep in mind if you decide to patent your design.
Are Design Patents Worth Money?
Whether design patents are worth money depends on the value of the design you’ve patented. For example, when Louis Vuitton patents a new pursue or pair of high heels, you can bet that their design patent is worth a ton of money to them because their products sell for a huge amount of money.
You don’t have to be Louis Vuitton for your design patent to be worth money. For example, if you sell a lawnmower that has a special design that your customers like, your design patent will worth money to you or your business, so the answer really depends on whether the end-user of your product purchases it for its unique design.
If they do purchase it for its design, then your design patent is worth something, however, if the design doesn’t really affect your customers’ choice to purchase your product, your design may not be worth as much as you think its worth.
If you have a design and you’re considering whether to patent it, contact an experienced patent attorney, sit down with them and they should be able to offer some valuable insights on what your design is worth to you or your business and how you should proceed with protecting it.
Do You Need a Design Patent?
If you have a product or article that has a unique look and you know that competitors might copy your design, it might be worth considering patenting your design so that you can stop bad actors from copying your design and applying it to their own products.
That said, you should know that design patents only protect how your product or article looks, design patents do not protect how your product works. So, if you have a product that functions differently from anything that’s on the market and looks different, a design patent only protects how it looks.
If you want to protect how your product or invention works, you need to apply for a utility patent in addition to a design patent. Design patents protect how your invention looks while utility patents protect how your invention works.
A design patent may not be enough and we will explain why. Let’s say that you obtain a design patent over your product. If your competitor makes a product that works the same way as yours but looks different, a design patent won’t help you because it only protects the appearance of your product.
So, to protect how your invention works you need to obtain a utility patent in addition to your design patent and each one of them will protect a portion of your product.
How Long Does a Design Patent Last?
In the United States, a design patent issued from a design patent application filed on or after May 13th, 2015 last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.
Design patents issued from design patent application filed before May 13, 2015 last for 14 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.
Currently, design patents in the United States offer 15 years of patent protection, which is plenty of time considering that designs go out of style way sooner than a design patent expires, making 15 years of protection more than plenty for most people.
In the event that your design patent expires and you still want to use your design exclusively, you should consider making improvements to the old design and patenting the new and improved design.
Is it Worth it to Patent Your Design? (Patent Rebel’s Take)
At this point, you should know that patenting a design is worth it if you can profit from the design. Patenting a design isn’t cheap, so you should only invest the time and money obtaining a design patent if you can use it to make money. To obtain a design patent, you should hire an attorney to prepare and file a design patent application for your design (invention). The process can take up to 20 months, but this time can be shortened to less than 6 months if you make a request to expedite your design patent application. That said, if you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.