Design Patents & Reexamination – - A Discussion with Design Patent Expert Philippe Signore

Design Patents & Reexamination – - A Discussion with Design Patent Expert Philippe Signore

Design patents are significantly different from utility patents in that design patents do not protect function, but instead, protect ornamental features.  Design patent are defined in scope by the content of the drawings  as opposed to the words of a set of claims. Further, design patents are accorded a patent term of 14 years from issue, as opposed to 20 years from filing.

The USPTO issues about 25,000 design patents each year.  Design patents cover a broad range of products, as evidenced by the diversity in the companies investing in this form of IP.  For example, consumer electronic companies, such as Sony,  Motorola, Toshiba,  and Apple rely on design patents to protect the stylish appearance of their latest gadgets  Likewise, athletic product companies such as Nike and Under Armour cover the aesthetic appeal of their footwear and garments, which can be a primary selling point, using design patents.  Auto-makers, such as Ford, Honda and Toyota, obtain design patents to protect their  components from being replaced with low quality imitations; even software companies, such as Microsoft and Google, seek design patent protection to cover their latest computer icons, and GUIs'. 

With fewer than 10 design patent reexaminations conducted by the USPTO, on average, in any given year, PatentsPostGrant.com explored the underlying issues with Oblon Spivaks's design patent guru Philippe Signore.  

PPG.com : Philippe, why do you think the Read the rest of this entry »