Design Patents Revealed Part I


Image: Furla S.P.A. Handbag Design Patent via Design Patent Lookbook 


Design Patents Revealed Part I

While I don’t have a science/technical background to sit for the US Patent Bar exam, many of my law professors and attorney mentors suggested that I learn about patent law to increase my knowledge of legal issues in the fashion industry. Many shared that this area of the law is important to protecting fashion designs. During the 30th Annual ABA Intellectual Property Spring meeting, I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Burstein, a law professor who specializes in design patents. After listening to to a panel she moderated, I decided to learn more about design patents.

At first, I was intimidated by the subject matter. I decided to embrace my intimidation and teach myself design patents through blogging about it. So, let’s learn together! We will narrow our focus to design patents in fashion designs.

What Are Design Patents?

First, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”)  defines design  as “a visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture.” To protect the appearance of a design, the potential patent owner may apply for a patent as it relates to the “configuration or shape of an article, the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation.”

USPTO will grant design patents to “any person who has invented any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.”  However, a design patent protects only the appearance of the article and not structural or utilitarian features.

How Do You Apply for a Design Patent?

According to USPTO, the elements of a design application should include the following:

1) Preamble, stating name of the applicant, title of the design, and a brief description of the nature and intended use of the article in which the design is embodied;
(2) Cross-reference to related applications (unless included in the application data sheet).
(3) Statement regarding federally sponsored research or development.
(4) Description of the figure(s) of the drawing;
(5) Feature description;
(6) A single claim;
(7) Drawings or photographs;
(8) Executed oath or declaration.

Check back for Design Patent Revealed Part 2 and Part 3! Please share and subscribe. 



  1. Great information Ashley. I’m looking forward to learning more about the world of fashion /patent law.

    Carol D.
    Brooklyn NY

    • Thank you for your support! Yes, there is so much to learn about patents. Xoxo

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