Design Patents

Lee & Hayes’ Design Patent Group has developed design strategies for our clients to protect the ornamental characteristics of their innovations, whether that includes electronic devices, vehicles, graphical user interfaces, or apparel. Lee & Hayes has multiple attorneys and agents with experience in preparing and prosecuting design patent applications in the U.S. and in foreign jurisdictions.

Design patents can be an extremely useful tool in an intellectual property arsenal, particularly when attempting to create overlapping protection between utility patents and trademarks/copyrights, thereby developing a comprehensive intellectual property portfolio. 

Generally speaking, a utility patent protects the functional aspects of an innovation while a design patent protects the ornamental characteristics. While utility and design patents afford legally separate protection for an innovation, the functional and ornamental appearance of the innovation may not be easily separable. Articles of manufacture such as an electronic devices or graphical user interfaces may possess both functional and ornamental characteristics, oftentimes making it beneficial to obtain both utility and design patents.  As compared to utility patents, design patents tend to be less expensive and issue more quickly.  Also, since the term of design patent protection is from issuance, rather than from filing as in the case of utility applications, applicants have more control over the patent term of design patent protection.

When foreign design protection is desired, it is often best to consider the highly variable filing requirements of the desired jurisdictions at the time of the initial U.S. filing.  Lee & Hayes understands the landscape of foreign design protection and the differences in design filing requirements between foreign jurisdictions.  Lee & Hayes has established solid relationships with many foreign outside counsel to assist in obtaining high quality foreign design protection.

US Patent and Trademark Office Design Patent Application Guide