If nothing else, the epic patent battle between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. has brought increased attention to the value of design patents. According to the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association (IPO) recent report on worldwide patent trends, design patent grants and applications both continue to increase.
In total, the IPO’s 2013 IP Record revealed that 658 more design patents were filed in 2012 than in 2011
While design patents still lag behind their utility patent peers in terms of popularity, they provide a number of benefits for inventors, particularly when seeking to protect the unique appearance of an item. A “design patent” protects the way an article looks, as opposed to how it is used or how it works. The specific subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation.
The recent growth in applications for design patents spans different industries. While Apple and Samsung were among the top design patent recipients, other companies making the top ten list include Procter & Gamble, LG, Toyota, Philips, and Nike. Overall, the fifty companies on the IPO’s list of the top 50 U.S. design patent grantees for 2012 obtained 150 more design patents than the top 50 companies of 2011.
If you need any help with Intellectual Property issues or advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327). Stay up-to-date on the latest Intellectual Property Law news from Sheldon Mak & Anderson.