US Intellectual Property Protection For Designs


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Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Stephen Weyer gives you the latest information on United State Intellectual Property protection for designs.

Topic discussed include design patents,statutory requirements of patentability, statutory bars, governement filing fees, enforcement, copyright, trade marks and trade dress.

For more information, please contact Stephen Weyer at

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US Intellectual Property Protection For Designs

  2. 2. Trademarks Copyright Patents Trade Secrets Subject matter Indication of source Expression fixed in a tangible medium Inventions; discoveries Information unknown to general public that provides competitive economic advantage Symbol ™ ℠ ® © Patent No. __ none Acquire Rights Use; expand protection through registration Creation; expand protection through registration Issued Patent (following application process) keep it a secret, procedures enacted Purpose Consumer protection Encourage creativity Encourage invention Fair competition Law Federal; state Federal Federal State
  3. 3. US Patents <ul><li>Three types: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Utility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DESIGN </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plant </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. DESIGN PATENTS <ul><li>Protect the “look” or appearance of an article of manufacture </li></ul><ul><li>Protection lasts 14 years from the date of issue </li></ul>
  5. 5. Apple, Inc.
  6. 6. STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS OF PATENTABILITY <ul><li>“ Design” must be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Useful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-obvious </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. STATUTORY BARS <ul><li>Transitioning from “first to invent” to “first inventor to file”* (* effective March 16, 2013 ) </li></ul><ul><li>1 year from your first publication or sale or offer for sale, you must file your patent application </li></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public sale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publication </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Design Patent Government Filing Fees* *September 26, 2011 Large entity Application Fee $250 Search Fee $120 Examination Fee $160 Issue Fee $990 Total $ 1520
  9. 9. Enforcement <ul><li>Standard for Infringement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Ordinary Observer” Test- “would an ordinary observer, familiar with prior art designs , be deceived into believing that the alleged design is the patented design.” ( Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc , 543 F.3d 665, (Fed. Cir. 2008)) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Factor out” functional aspects ( Richardson v. Stanley Works , 597 F.3d at 1288 (Fed. Cir. 2010)) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But… if the patented design includes elements, both functional and ornamental, elements are included in the “ordinary observer” test. ( Elmer v. Take-Out Express , 67 F.3d 1571 (Fed. Cir 1995)) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Comparison with other US Intellectual Property Protection for Designs <ul><li>Copyrights </li></ul><ul><li>Trade Marks / Trade Dress </li></ul>
  11. 11. WHAT CAN BE COPYRIGHTED? <ul><li>Original </li></ul><ul><li>Works of Authorship </li></ul><ul><li>Fixed in a Tangible Medium </li></ul><ul><li>Of Expression </li></ul>
  12. 12. DURATION OF COPYRIGHT <ul><li>Vest upon creation in author of work </li></ul><ul><li>Duration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Life of the last surviving author + 70 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For works made for hire, anonymous works, pseudononymous works, shorter of: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>95 years from first publication or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>120 years from date of creation </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. REGISTRATION <ul><li>Copyright automatic, but to register… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$35 for electronic application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presumption of validity (5 years) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Necessity for entry into court </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give notice using © </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. BENEFITS OF REGISTRATION <ul><li>Prerequisite for lawsuit to enforce copyright </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of validity of the copyright and facts stated in the certificate if registered within 5 years of first publication </li></ul><ul><li>Availability of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees </li></ul>
  15. 15. Trade Dress Defined <ul><li>Trade dress refers to the visual appearance of a product or its packaging that signifies the source of the product to consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Covers non-functional aspects (e.g. shapes, designs, colors, or materials which do not serve a utility or function outside of creating recognition in the consumer’s mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Protected in the U.S. by the Lanham Act (Federal level, same as U.S. Trade Marks) and Common Law (State level) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Protection by registration (Federal) and/or actual use common law (State) <ul><li>Optional Formal registration for Federal Protection … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Principle Register or Supplemental Register </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Protection requires that the trade dress be “distinctive.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(consumers perceive a particular trade dress as identifying a source of a product) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. BENEFITS AND DISADVANTAGES OF Trade Dress Protection <ul><li>Benefits… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential infinite duration of protection </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disadvantages… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires the trade dress to have acquired distinctiveness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must “police” the “trade dress” in order to maintain protection </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Stephen Weyer </li></ul><ul><li>Email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook: </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn: </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: @weyer_esq </li></ul>© 2011 Stites & Harbison PLLC