Design Patent Law and Legal Definition

A design patent is granted to any person who has invented any new and nonobvious ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A design patent protects only the appearance of an article. In other words, a design patent is granted only for the design and will not cover the structural and functional features of a patented invention. The functional aspects of an invention are usually covered by a utility patent. Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an invention if it is new both in its utility and appearance. A design patent is granted for a period of 14 years. Maintenance fees are not necessary for design patents. The application process and drawing requirements for a design patent are more or less similar to that of other patents. However, drawing is crucial in design patents since it defines the scope of the patent. Hence no reference characters are allowed and the drawing should clearly depict the appearance. Only one claim is permitted in a design patent and an application shall be accompanied by the forms including the Design Patent Application Transmittal, Fee Transmittal, Oath or Declaration, and an Application Data Sheet.