A Brief Overview of The History of Design Patents

A Brief Overview of The History of Design Patents


Patent law firms minneapolis

If you would like to patent one or more designs, it is important to consult with a design patent law firm to learn about the process as well as your rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, a patent attorney can provide you with counsel when and if you encounter any issues during and after your patent has been approved.

Historical and Current Data on Patent Applications and Grants

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the first patent was issued on July 31, 1790, to Samuel Hopkins. He created a process to make potash to be used in fertilizer.

Over a century later, in 1915 and 1916, there were approximately 400 patents granted to every person that applied, according to the U.S. Patent Office.

On an annual basis, between the years of 1998-to-2010, the U.S. Patent Office reports that there were over 520,000 patent applications. This is double from prior years.

In both 2010 and 2011, the U.S. Patent Office granted over 120,000 patents. The number of world-wide patent applications increased 9% in 2012. As of 2013, there were approximately 2.6 million patent applications filed.

Interesting to note is that as global competition has increased, the United States ranks ninth in per capita patents.

Basic Definition of a Design

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a design “consists of the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture.” Furthermore, this “design for surface ornamentation is inseparable from the article to which it is applied and cannot exist alone.”

Patent law specialists will be able to further explain as to how a design is defined and determined. A patent lawyer will also be able to explain how a design patent differs from a utility patent. Design patent law firms can also provide detailed and proficient intellectual property counsel.

Patent Fees

It cost between $4-to-$5 to obtain a patent in 1790. Currently, there are several fees that need to be paid:

    Filing fee
    Search fee
    Examination fee

A design patent’s term is calculated from the date it is granted, and extends for 14 years.

There is a definite need for design patent law firms as patent lawsuits have also increased over the past 20 years. There were an average of 500 lawsuits 20 years ago, and that number has increased to approximately 3,000 a year.


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