I am looking into applying for a design patent, and it looks
really technical and intimidating.
I’ll assume USA though many other countries have something similar
sometimes called by slightly different names. Design patents are
very simple and cheap (though not inexpensive). Generally under $2000
if you work with an attorney and under $1000 (the USPTO fees don’t
change) AND assuming you did a good enough job searching first to
reduce the chance of being rejected due to similar prior art. You
can read and follow the USPTO drawing rules yourself though hiring a
patent artist who knows them is what I would recommend.
But why a design patent instead of Copyright? A design patent is
only good for 14 years while a copyright is good for your lifetime
plus 70 years. The BIG catch with either is that YOU and YOU ALONE
are responsible through CIVIL suits to enforce either. For design
patents the one advantage is that you can (maybe and after much
expense) win for 14 years against those who innocently infringe by
accidentally coming up with essentially the same design while with
copyright EVERYONE who (the courts believe) comes up with the same
essential design has full copyright rights to it too.
You already own the copyright on your “design” (neither copyright
nor design patents ever protect any functionality, only "expression"
or "appearance so be sure you understand those limitations). You’ve
owned the copyright since it was in “fixed” form (whether drawing or
item). Before you can sue though you’ll need to file a registration
with the Library of Congress Copyright office. It’s cheaper online
than via paper and you can do it yourself. BUT you’ll need to
understand enough to use the proper form and proper examples
submission. Total cost of doing it yourself I should be under $45.
There is that future catch of enforcement though…
Study my sig links (assuming they aren’t cut off) for more.
James E. White
Inventor, Marketer, and Author of “Will It Sell? How to Determine If
Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable (Before Wasting Money on a
Patent)” Info Sites: www.willitsell.com www.inventorhome.com,
www.idearights.com www.taletyano.com www.booksforinventors.com