6 Common Design Patent Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

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Filing for a design patent may seem like a cakewalk when compared to the much tougher to get utility patents in the USA. After all, design patents require much less paperwork and follow a quicker process, unlike utility patents.  
Despite the ease of securing a design patent, applicants often end up making common and costly mistakes that can easily be avoided. Below we discuss the 6 mistakes to evade when applying for a design patent. 

Table of Contents

Filing For A Design Patent 

A novel and original design can be patented by filing a Design Patent Application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A design patent protects only the looks/appearance of a design and not how it works or is used. The following components must be included in the application: 

  • Preamble: An introduction to the design 
  • Title: A simple name for the design 
  • Description: A detailed explanation of the design, any background information, and cross-references. 
  • Claim: Only a single claim is allowed in design patents 
  • Drawings Disclosure: Black & white photos or drawings in black ink and on white paper. The photos must be with a sufficient number of views to completely disclose the item. Surface shading  
  • Oath 
  • Application Data Sheet duly filled. 
  • Fee Transmittal  

Once the required documents are submitted, the application undergoes an examination wherein completeness of the application as well as prior-art search is conducted. If the application meets all eligibility and other criteria, a design patent is granted.  

6 Common Mistakes To Avoid 

  1. Non-Submission of Adequate Views: Unlike a utility patent where lengthy claims and descriptions describe the invention in satisfactory detail, drawing forms the core of a design patent. The USPTO requirements clearly stress an application carrying maximum views so that the design is disclosed completely. 
    Front, left, right, rear, top and bottom views of the design are compulsory to submit. They may only be omitted if two views are a mirror image of each other. 
    Sectional views are only permitted if they aid in clearly bringing out the elements of the design. It is highly recommended to include the optional Perspective Views as they endow more clarity by showing the appearance and shape of three-dimensional designs. 
    Two perspective views are considered enough with one showing the top, front and side of the object, while the other shows the bottom, back, and opposite sides.
  2.  Lack of Surface Shading: Expressing the contours and character of all surfaces in the drawing via surface shading is a stipulation mandated by the USPTO for design patent applications. 
    Faulty or inappropriate surface shading is grounds for rejection of the application under 35 U.S.C. 112. Remember to use surface shading when distinguishing between solid and open areas of the design. 
    Do not use solid black surface shading unless you are depicting a color contrast or the color is black. If you add surface shading to the drawing after filing, it will be viewed as new matter and will result in delays in the patent grants.  
  3. Failure to Use Broken Lines: Broken lines are used to represent the environment in which the design is used and are not part of the claimed design. 
    They are for illustrative purposes only and must always be included to show the article of embodiment when the claim is just for the surface ornamentation of the design. Broken lines that intrude upon the claim design or are of a heavier weight than claimed design can become grounds for rejection.  
  4. Including Multiple Design Embodiments: A design patent may include only one claim meant for the ornamental design of the article. A design patent application with several different design variations will be called out under Restriction Requirement. 
    The applicant will then be asked to choose and submit a single design to be pursued for the purpose of the patent application. The non-elected designs may be filed separately by the applicant. Failure to do so means they are abandoned and available for the public to take.  
  5. Excessively Detailed Drawings: Drawing the line between too little and too much is tricky business in design patent applications. Including too many details in the drawing may not be necessary to illustrate the ornamental aspect of the design. This can lead to rejections by the Patent Office. 
    In case of infringement too, this can prove an expensive mistake. Your business rival only needs to omit a few of the many details listed in your patent while retaining the general features of the design to recreate the product, without infringing on your design. Therefore, it makes sense to stick to the essential design features in the drawings.  
  6. Not Disclosing the Article Of Manufacture: If a design patent application does not mention the article of manufacture that will carry the design, it may be rejected.  


With consumers gravitating towards products that are chic in appearance, companies are looking to innovate equally on the design and utility front. There has been a sharp rise in design applications following this trend.  
Now that graphical user interfaces (GUI) have become eligible for design patents, we can only expect an increase in their popularity. As stated earlier, design patents are faster to obtain and much cheaper than utility patents.  
However, submitting an erroneous application will negate both the advantages and make the patent process expensive as well as time-consuming. A simple way to prevent this from happening is to hire the services of an expert firm with extensive knowledge of the design patent filing process.  
Given the stricter rules in the case of a design patent application, it makes economical sense to have the skill and expertise of a professional by your side. Select a firm that understands your vision and offers all-comprehensive services from inception to completion.  

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