Design Patent FAQ

When speaking of patents, most people think of utility patents, which are patents for functional (utilitarian) inventions. Design patents, if thought about at all, were long seen as the redheaded stepchildren in the patent world, without any real value to the patent holder.

Times change.

The value of industrial arts has gained greatly in recent years. Consumers look to products that not only function well, but look beautiful doing it. People place a value on aesthetics, and are often willing to pay a premium for it. There is a reason why your smartphone or tablet or coffee table are shaped the way they are, and it’s not only for functional reasons. Aesthetics are subjective, and my opinion of functional beauty may be greatly different from yours, but let me give two examples showing design patents and their relative value in the marketplace.
1) I’ve had an iPad for a few years now. Pack it around with me everywhere. It’s been in my hands for thousands of hours, yet its tactile lines still make it a pleasure to hold and use. Apple could have made the thing out of lighter or less expensive materials. They could have made it thicker, heavier, and more durable. Apple did not do this for a very good aesthetic reason. I want to keep that iPad around and keep it in my hands and use it. If I broke or lost my iPad today I’d buy another one tomorrow. That’s a valuable design patent.

2) It is common for makers of custom designed furniture to seek design patent protection. Inside a little woodworking shop in Eastern Oregon I saw a custom made child’s highchair on display. Sure it was functional – it would keep the kid from falling out and provided a tray for food, just like every highchair made. But this one was made of blonde curly maple, with long flowing lines and swooping curves, and just beautiful. I wanted to buy the thing, even though I didn’t currently have a kid to put in it. That’s a valuable design patent.

If you think you have a unique design for a product, a design that “speaks” to people and makes them want to buy a product, then take a serious look at protecting that idea with design patent protection.


  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Kitchenware
  • Glassware
  • Auto Components
  • Bicycle Components
  • Boat Components
  • Paper Products
  • Computer Icons
  • Electronic Devices
  • Tools
  • Sporting Goods
  • Many Others




Sori Yanagi Stool
Patent No: US D438024 S



Lebowitz Tea Kettle
Patent No: US D498109 S



Vanderbeek Utility Tool
Patent No: US D595555 S


Vidal Handbag
Patent No: US D675821 S





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