Ways to Enhance Your Design Patent Searches

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Anyone who creates a beautiful product, including designers, artists, businesses, and individuals, should think about applying for a design patent. Utility patents defend a product’s “usefulness,” whereas design patents defend a product’s purely aesthetic, ornamental appearance. Because utility patents and design patents provide distinct types of patent protection, inventors may be able to get both utility patents and design patents for the same item.  

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A design patent may help to protect a product even if it is unsuitable for a utility patent. Utilizing two patents together expands the reach of patent protection beyond what a utility patent or design patent might provide separately.  
It is easier to obtain a design patent than a utility patent for an invention. Despite the ease of acquiring a design patent, the patent examiner frequently rejects applications. It’s crucial to do an exhaustive and thorough design patent search to prevent such rejections. A typical and crucial technique for ensuring that the design application is granted is extensive design patent searches. 

Search Strategies

Product Reviews Websites 

Product review websites are a great place to start when conducting a design patent search. But keep in mind that these product review websites only include products that have already been released or will soon be released on the market. These websites are among the finest places to hunt for information that might be able to disprove the design because they have evaluations and images from almost every new product that hits the market.  

These websites also provide precise technical information and essential product specifics. These websites can produce a variety of outcomes, bringing to light several designs, some of which might not be present in patent databases. 

Product Prototype Search (Crowdfunding sites) 

There are no precise numbers, but some experts believe that for every invention that is recorded and never makes it to market, there are ten more. This means that you should seek things from the past, present, and future in order to determine whether your design is unique. Sometimes the products are not available on the market because they are not yet finished with development or are not fully functional.  

Crowdfunding websites are your best bet for obtaining such designs and ideas. A list of goods that might have never appeared on larger commercial websites or store shelves might be found on crowdfunding platforms. They frequently lead to the discovery of products whose designs clash with an existing application. 

Product Designs 

Every product on the market today started as a notion that was then turned into a sketch, drawing, depiction, or image. Even though a product may alter from how it was initially envisioned, drawings are still a valid form of the prior art. A design patent might not be valid if a similar idea was previously envisaged but never turned into a physical object.  

Manufacturer’s Samples 

It is noteworthy to note that the majority of businesses do not design or produce a product from scratch. Every design or product, for that matter, is composed of various elements. For instance, a fan includes a housing, hub, motor, mounting mechanism, and blades. Frequently, these components are obtained from several vendors before being assembled to produce a final good. So it makes sense to visit manufacturer or vendor websites to see what components or pieces are used in a design. 

E-commerce Websites 

The finest places to find any kind of design are internet buying platforms because everything is readily available. One can contrast the technical specifications, check for various iterations of the same designs, gain a broad understanding of the state of the art, and find out which goods are now available on the market. 

Geography-Based Search 

What is the design you want to patent that has previously been conceptualized and described in a foreign country’s literature that you are unable to understand? 

You must broaden your search to non-native regions where many creative concepts are created, developed, and produced in foreign languages nations like China, Korea, Japan, and others. Since the majority of prior art searches are typically restricted to USPTO or European databases, due to restricted search, designs that already exist in other parts of the world would pass the test of novelty in the US. Avoid making this error. Thanks to modern technology, we may now easily and more effectively overcome language boundaries and travel the globe.  

Product Backtracking 

When looking back, it’s often possible to identify the inspiration behind a product, such as through product sketches or earlier revisions that could be used to successfully challenge a design patent.  

Let’s say you believe that your design may conflict with earlier art for a particular product category or class. You might learn more about the history of the product’s creation and improve your understanding of how relevant it is to your design. The essential step in this approach is to look up older iterations of the product or models. 

There may already have been an innovative design for one person that has shined and spaced out, allowing a place for new ones. The legacy survives even when it is no longer in control, which is sufficient proof to disprove a design. 

Google Lens  

In essence, Google Lens is a visual search engine. Google Lens is a smartphone app that uses deep machine learning to identify items in front of the camera and offer options for actions like scanning, translating, buying, and more. When you take a picture of a landmark and then press the Google Lens shutter, for instance, the landmark is recognized by Google Lens, which then searches the internet for relevant information. Depending on the landmark, this information could include a description, reviews, and contact information if the landmark is a company. 

It has the ability to hunt up online images that show the same thing as the one in a given image or screenshot. It’s a great way to find visually similar photos or even to find specific characteristics like a specific design or object in a photo.  

Locarno Classification  

Internationally recognized Locarno classifications were created in 1968 by the Locarno Agreement. Searching for design patents on international databases is made considerably simpler by this industrial design classification scheme. The Locarno categorization system comprises 32 classes and 237 subclasses, according to the 12th iteration. Hague Express Database, Orbit Intelligence, Design view, and other databases allow for design searches utilizing Locarno classes. 

One of the main advantages of using Locarno categorization is the ability to filter search results. Additionally, Locarno categories assist in locating references with odd title content that are difficult to identify using conventional keywords. 

Patent Citation Analysis   

Citations from patents are references to technological concepts that have already been clarified and discussed in patents or other academic works. The inventor must cite the acknowledged prior art when filing a new patent application in order to explain how the new invention improves upon it. In some cases, the new invention offers a realizable improvement over existing technology, while in others it may be a completely novel application of scientific advancement. Citations have thus been viewed as a noisy yet important signal. 

Its application in design patent search is based on the fundamental notion that publications or patents that are mentioned as prior art frequently contain important concepts that form the basis for several discoveries. 

Keyword Based Search   

The keyword is the most important consideration in any search strategy. Keywords are a collection of words or phrases that an inventor will use to designate the various components of an invention. It is one of the most important resources an analyst employs to develop efficient search strategies that swiftly yield the set of closest prior arts. Boolean searches give keyword searches extra depth by enabling you to look for numerous terms simultaneously, separately, or very close to one another. 

The following steps are frequently followed to get ready the search terms: 

  • From the invention disclosure, extract the terminology and keywords. 
  • Retrieve the search terms’ synonyms. 


You should continue to conduct regular searches and monitor the market even after your design has been registered if you want to successfully defend it. If you realize that your design patent search is returning useless or irrelevant results, try changing your search technique. Additionally, utility patents might come up in the searches; nevertheless, it’s vital to remember that your design patent application may be rejected if the designs from utility patents are cited as prior art. As a result, it is imperative that one perform their search while taking utility, design, shape, and aesthetics into account. 

When it comes to designs, the product’s materialization is not the most crucial factor. Even the described notion is sufficient to render the design in question incorrect. Most inventions work to address a problem, and most issues may be solved in more than one way. You should also look into alternative solutions. In addition, keep an eye on industry journals, trade shows, product exhibits, trade literature, and the market. You should also run your own online image searches. 

You can find possible prior arts through the design search service provided by TT Consultants. The highly skilled engineers at TT Consultants are professionals at doing design patent searches using pertinent keywords, design classes, kind codes, and all other tactics required to carry out such high-value subjects across numerous databases. 

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