The Rise of Design Patents in the Last Decade | Collect IP

Designs are no longer the poor cousins ​​in the world of patents. Today they sit around the table with utility models, copyrights and trademarks as part of an overall strategy to protect intellectual property.

Here is an important context behind the increase in design applications and how they can provide another layer of protection.

Design patent applications are increasing

In the decade since Apple’s $500 million judgment against Samsung for infringing on its iPhone design patent, design patent filings have tripled. And in 2021, US design filings grew about 17% to 54,201 designs.

Most designs are registered for graphical user interfaces and products. With the US moving to a first-to-file system, early filing is key to protecting the look and feel of your company’s graphical user interfaces and products. Therefore, a design patent could be an essential part of your intellectual property protection plan before launching a product or interface with a unique appearance that could become a target for counterfeiters looking to capitalize on your R&D investments . The trend towards US designs is in line with the increase in design applications worldwide.

The role of designs

Design patents play a crucial role in protecting your company’s products and graphical user interfaces from competitors. As a result, companies can distinguish themselves not only technologically, but also in terms of design.

Design patents ensure that competitors cannot use your core designs in market products. And they can also protect against sellers of counterfeit products, regardless of whether the counterfeiter is copying trademarks. And some counterfeit product sellers even file their design patents by using original product designs with minor modifications. In short, designs protect graphical user interfaces and products that constitute a company’s trademark and aesthetics. This protection is crucial to protecting yourself from competitors and imitators alike.

Advantages of design patents over utility models

Design patents are cheaper, quicker to obtain and more difficult to invalidate than utility models:

  • Design filing fees are 30-40% lower than utility models.
  • Design patents are issued in around 20 months as opposed to utility models which are issued in around 30 months.
  • Inter Partes Review Proceedings have been very effective in invalidating utility models, with a rate of approximately 65% ​​of filed petitions being initiated. In contrast, design applications are only filed about 45% of the time.

As a bonus, designs offer good legal remedies in district courts. District courts issue preliminary injunctions more frequently in design cases than in utility model cases. And in design cases, patent owners can receive a reasonable royalty or even an overall profit from an infringer, making it a costly threat to the infringer.

At their core, design patents protect website and graphical user interface designs from competitors who try to confuse consumers with designs that mimic a popular product or service. In today’s market, failure to register a design can have serious consequences as competitors can use a similar design and apply for design protection. If so, you may have to make expensive and cumbersome modifications to your product, or worse, you could be completely banned from using your design.

Comments are closed.