Registered designs


Who can apply for and own a design?

Any natural or legal jurisdictional person or persons may own a design patent. The inventor of a novel, original, non-obvious and ornamental design first owns that design. As such, any rights will initially vest with the inventor.


What may and may not be protected?

Design patents protect the overall visual appearance of an article of manufacture. The type of protection needed for a design may depend on the goals of the client and the nature of the industry that is being served. A design patent may be directed to surface indicia or ornamentation (including colour), shape or a combination thereof. Design patents are used to protect the ornamental appearance of a vast range of different articles, including electronic devices, medical devices, graphical user interfaces, automobiles, furniture and fabric designs. Currently, there is no separate spare parts provision in the United States. As such, spare parts may be protected by design patents, and there is no special restriction limiting enforcement. Over the past decade a few different versions of an aftermarket-centred PARTS Bill have been introduced to Congress to limit the enforcement rights for replacement parts, but none of these have passed into law.


What are the costs involved in registration?

The United States has a formal examination system and is not merely a registration system. The average cost from the preparation and filing of a new design patent application to its issuance is about $5,000 to $8,000, but much depends on whether the United States Patent and Trademark Office has objections or rejections and the extent of them. The cost of responding to office actions during design patent prosecution can vary considerably, depending on the issues involved. There are no renewal or annuity fees due in the United States for design patents.

Grace period

Is there a grace period for filings?

The United States patent statutes provide a one-year grace period from a design’s first public disclosure in which to file a design patent application. The grace period can also apply to non-public commercial activity, such as sales and offers for sales. The one-year grace period is tracked from the design patent application’s earliest effective filing date, which may be based on a non-US filed priority design application.

Law stated date

Correct on:

Give the date on which the information above is accurate.

21 November 2020.