If you’ve just finished working on a new shoe design, you might be wondering whether you can protect the design of your new shoes with a patent? The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows inventors of a new design to protect their design with a design patent. Design patents protect the aesthetic or ornamental appearance of an object. So, can you patent a pair of shoes that you’ve designed? Read below to find out.
Can you Patent Shoes?
To answer the question: can you patent shoes? Yes, you can patent shoes with either a utility patent or a design patent, depending on what aspects of the shoe you want to patent. If you have a pair of shoes that serve a specific function, such as enabling a basketball player to jump higher, your shoes may qualify for a utility patent. If, on the other hand, you have a pair of shoes that has a new and unique design, the shoes may qualify for a design patent.
Patenting shoes that you have with either a design patent or a utility patent, grants you the right to restrict others from using, making, selling, offering to sell, and importing the patented shoes to the United States for a limited period of time. Utility patents offer this protection for 20 years from the date you file your utility patent application with the patent office. Design patents offer 15 years of protection from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.
During the patent term, you will enjoy the exclusive right to use, make, and sell the shoes that you’ve invented, assuming it’s legal to do so in your jurisdiction. During the patent term, you will be able to license the shoe design or shoe patent to third parties in exchange for a licensing fee. If you want to, you can also sell the patent in its entirety to another party.
If the pair of shoes that you want to protect serves a specific function, such as comfort or allowing people to jump higher, your shoes may qualify for a utility patent. Utility patents protect new and unique inventions that serve a specific purpose, if you can show this, the shoe you’ve created may qualify for a utility patent.
Patenting a new and unique shoe design that can be commercially successful, will allow you to profit from the shoe design for 15 years from the date the patent office grants your design patent application. If you’re the only party offering the shoe with your unique design, you’ll be able to freely compete without having to worry about competitors releasing a similar design.
In the event that your competitors copy your design, you will be able to stop them from doing so by suing them for design patent infringement in Federal Court. If they are indeed infringing upon your patent, the court may issue a court order, demanding that the copycat seize their infringing activities. So, how do you patent your new and unique shoe design? Read below to find out.
How to Patent Shoes?
Before applying for a patent, you need to determine which patent is appropriate for the shoes you want to patent. If your shoes have a unique function, you will want to apply for a utility patent. If, on the other hand, your shoes have a unique design, you will need to apply for a design patent.
In the event that the pair of shoes you want to protect have unique design and unique function, you can apply for dual protection by applying for both a utility patent and a design patent. The utility patent will protect the function of the shoes while the design patent will protect the unique design of the shoes.
So, the first step you need to take before applying for a patent is performing a patent search to determine no else has patented the unique design or function of the shoes you want to patent. If you do not know how to perform a patent search, you might want to contact a patent attorney or patent agent to assist you with your search.
If you find that someone has patented shoes that are similar to yours, the patent office might reject your application. If there are no similar results, you may want to hire an attorney to prepare and file your design or utility patent application with the patent office.
Attorney or Agent
If you don’t have experience preparing and filing patent applications, you will benefit greatly from hiring either a patent attorney or a patent agent to assist you with your patent application for the shoes you want to patent.
That said, the patent office does not require that you hire an attorney. You can prepare and file your patent application on your own and the USPTO will even offer some help with this. Just know that hiring a patent attorney or a patent agent will make your life a lot easier as they are experienced in dealing with the patent office.
Prepare Your Patent Application(s)
Once you’ve decided what type of patent is suitable to protect your intellectual property, you need to either prepare your patent application on your own or hire an attorney to prepare it on your behalf. If you decide to do it yourself, just make sure that you comply with all of the USPTO’s requirements because making even minor mistakes could get your application rejected by the patent office, costing you more time and money.
After filing your application with the patent office, make sure that you respond to any communications from the patent office. The patent examiner may require more information or amendments to the application, so make sure you promptly reply to any letters you receive from the patent office.
Track Your Application
Make sure that you periodically check the status of your application with the patent office. The USPTO will issue you a patent serial number that you can use to track your patent application status with the patent office. By tracking your application, you will be notified if the patent office needs any additional information or amendments to your patent application.
Why is Patenting Your Shoe Important?
Patenting the functional aspects or appearance of your shoe is important because it allows you to restrict your competitors from selling a shoe that similar in function or appearance from the shoe that you’ve patented. If someone copies your invention or sells a similar shoe, you will be able to sue them for patent infringement in federal court.
That said, the patent office is not responsible for protecting your patent. You, as the patent holder, will have to monitor what you’re competitors are doing and if you find that someone is infringing upon your patent, you will have to sue them in court for patent infringement. If your suit is successful, the court will grant you a court order, ordering your competitors to stop their infringing activities.
Benefits of Patenting the Design or Function of Your Invention (Shoes)
Here are some of the benefits of protecting your new shoe invention:
- Utility patents offer broad protection over the functional aspects of your shoes
- Design patents are relatively inexpensive to get
- Having both a design patent and utility patent makes your intellectual property over the shoes more valuable
- Ability to stop others from stealing your invention
- Ability to exclusively profit from your invention for a limited period of time
When Should You Patent Your Invention?
The USPTO requires applicants for design and utility to patent to file a patent application with the patent office within one year of publicly disclosing their invention to the public, selling it, or offering it for sale. If an applicant does not file his patent application within the one year grace period, the applicant will be barred from patenting his invention and the USPTO will consider the disclosed patent prior art, falling within the public domain.
Make Them Sign a Confidentiality Agreement
If you need assistance on your invention from outside parties, you should tell them to sign a confidentiality agreement so that they will not disclose your invention to the public. In the event that they do disclose it, you should immediately file your patent application with the patent office. You can also sue them for breach of contract for violating the confidentiality agreement. But that doesn’t change the fact that the clock on the one year grade period begins ticking and you have to file your patent application(s) within that time period.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Help you Patent Your Shoe Invention
The United States Patent and Trademark Office does not require applicants to be represented by an attorney to prepare and file their patent application. Applicants are free to prepare and file their patent application on their own.
That said, the patent office recommends that applicants hire an attorney to assist them with the preparation and filing their patent application, this is so because patent attorneys are experienced in all matters related to the preparation of applications, filing them, and communicating with the patent office. Having the assistance of an attorney will reduce the chances of your application being rejected by the USPTO.
As previously mentioned, designers and inventors can protect their newly invented shoes by patenting them with the patent office. If the shoes you’ve invented have a unique function, you can protect that function by filing a utility patent application and if your shoes have a unique look, you can protect them by filing a design patent application. If the shoes you’ve invented have both a unique look and function, you can obtain dual protection, giving you the best possible IP protection. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.