DresserDesign patents” address how something looks; namely, the ornamental design of the object. Examples of patented designs include the appearance of a chest of drawers and the appearance. of silverware. “Design patents” are different from “utility patents,” which protect how something works, such as a better mousetrap.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is speeding the issue of design patents. According to the PTO, the average pendency, that is, the time from the filing of the application until issuance of the design patent, is sixteen months.  About 80% of design patent applications result in issued design patents. The time for issuing an approved design patent has dropped substantially over the last three years, from more than 140 days in 2006 to 52 days currently.

— Robert J. Yarbrough, Esq.