Patents can be broadly classified into 3 main categories, viz. Utility Patents, Design Patents, and Plant Patents. Though all of these patents are written in a similar fashion, still, there are some subtle differences which an applicant should incorporate while writing a patent. For example, there can be many claims in a utility patent, but for design patents only one claim is sufficient. Likewise, for utility patent drawings are not mandatory but for design patents it is important to have a drawing that can describe the ornamental feature of an article.
Unlike utility patents that protect the way an article is used and works, design patents protect only the appearance of the article. It must be understood that a design patent does not cover structural or any utilitarian feature of the article of manufacture. Such features are protected by a utility patent, which may be separately filed, if desired by the applicant.
This article is aimed at underlining some important elements of a design patent application irrespective of the fact whether it is a U.S. patent application, PCT patent application or EPO patent application. Defining and understanding each of these sections can help applicant improve the odds of success of their patent application.
Important Elements of a Design Patent Application
The Preamble- The preamble is printed on the cover page of the published patent. It provides the name of the applicant, the title of the application, and, sometimes, a brief description of the article.
The Title – The Title of the design patent application is included to identify the product and is generally the name by which the product is known in the public domain. The title helps the examiner in identifying the field of search of the prior art and proper assignment of new applications to the appropriate class, subclass.
Claim- Claim is one of the most important elements in a patent application as it determines the scope of the protection and anything that is beyond the scope of the claim is not protected. Unlike utility patents, only one claim is sufficient that can describe the ornamental feature of the intended patent.
Typically, the claim is written in the form “The ornamental design for (the article which embodies the design or to which it is applied) as shown.” It is, generally, also required that the description about the product as in the claim should be consistent in terminology with the title of the patent application.
Drawings or photographs- “A picture speaks a thousand words.” That ancient adage certainly holds true in the case of patent drawings. An invention can often be more easily explained through drawings than in reams of description. Accurate and clear drawings strengthen and enhance patent applications, helping overloaded patent examiners to understand inventions faster.
Description of the features (optional) – The Figure Descriptions are included in the design patent application to indicate the views as represented by each of the drawings, i.e., side view, front elevation, perspective view, etc. Though including many views is not mandatory but it can add a much to the understanding of the design.
Executed oath or declaration- Along with the specification and the drawings, the design patent application must include the oath or declaration. This is in compliance with the requirements set forth in 37 CFR §1.63.
Simply, keeping these facts in mind we can prepare our application accordingly and can increase the chances of getting our design patent application approved. However, filing a design patent application could be tough for those who are uninitiated and don’t have much exposure in the field of patents and patents filing. In such a situation patent research companies could be of immense use as they are well equipped with the norms and rules of filing patents.