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
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