Utility patents get most of the attention in the patent world, but design patents come with unique advantages, and can be valuable additions to client patent portfolios. Unlike utility patents that protect the function or use of items, methods or processes, design patents protect the non-functional and ornamental portions of an item (i.e., its “look”). Because design patent protections differ from utility patent protections, they can work in tandem with utility patents to yield broad legal coverage over a single invention. Alternatively, design patent protection may be a viable option for clients, even when obtaining a utility patent is not an option.
Preliminary patent search
For clients interested in applying for a design patent, a preliminary patent search can help estimate the likelihood that it will be granted by a patent authority. For an article to be eligible for a design patent in the United States, the article’s design must be new, original and not an obvious take on an existing design in the eyes of an “ordinary observer.” Design patent searches reveal the existing designs that could preclude a client from patenting theirs based on this ordinary observer test. Similarly, if it is likely that an ordinary observer would not be able to tell the difference between a client’s product and another item protected by a design patent, the client’s manufacture and sale of their product become the basis of a patent infringement lawsuit. Patent searches can reveal geographic areas where patent protections exist that should be avoided in the client’s operations.
More effective design patent searches
The TotalPatent One® patent search platform allows patent professionals to upgrade their search methods for better outcomes. Not only does TotalPatent One facilitate global patent searches from a single platform, it also comes with several features that make searches for designs more effective and expedient.
Image grid view
Most patent databases provide a text-dominant list of search results, often with zero visual clues as to a patented design’s appearance. This leaves searchers clicking through many individual links to access patent images. TotalPatent One users can view search results as a grid of patent images, which enables them to quickly identify results that could impact a client’s design patentability.
Side panel preview with links
When browsing through a TotalPatent One search results list, a single click on a result brings up a side panel displaying document images and other critical information about the underlying document. The side panel even contains links to the patent references that are cited as prior art within the document, helping guide patent researchers to other potentially relevant patent documents.
Selective exports with images
What good is a patent search if it is difficult to share your findings? Of course, TotalPatent One provides users with the option to print any patent document they find using the platform, but what sets TotalPatent One apart from other search tools is the ability to pick and choose the information to be extracted and print from patent records. User-selected patent information can be exported in several different formats (including CSV, Excel®, Word, PDF and HTML) that even incorporate clippings of design patent images.
Utility patents may get most of the attention in the patent world, but the TotalPatent One patent search platform has always kept design patent searches in mind. TotalPatent One helps patent professionals quickly identify relevant design patent search results and easily share those results with clients and colleagues.
Learn more about TotalPatent One.