Upcoming Design Patent Law Changes

Posted Sunday, February 22, 2015.

As an alternative to the utility patent with which many are familiar, a U.S. design patent may be obtained. The design patent protects ornamental aspects of an article. Design patents have some advantages in that they are generally cheaper and easier to obtain, and no maintenance fees are required to keep them in effect during the term of the patent.

On May 13, 2015, some changes are coming to U.S. design patent law. The changes are as a result of the 2012 Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act. With the change, U.S. design patent law will be harmonized with laws relating to “industrial design” registrations of other treaty signatory countries.

Under the new law, U.S. design patents will have a term of 15 years instead of the 14 now granted. In addition, design patent applications who wish to protect ornamental designs in countries outside the United States may file a single international design application. Such an application may be used to obtain exclusive rights to the design in up to 62 countries, with more countries considering signing on to the treaty.

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