Trade Dress Design Patents

May 11, 2022
Kira Johnson

Consider a time when you came up with a great design. How do you go about protecting the intellectual property of that design? Trade dress and design patents are two types of protection to consider for your brilliant designs, inventions, and intellectual work.

Design patents and trade dress allow your business to grow and establish a brand. As such, both a trade dress and design patent can work to protect your intellectual property from theft and abuse so its value can flourish. Trade dress and design patents may cover a myriad of things such as the layout of a restaurant, the design of a retail store, the shape of a guitar, the packaging of a smart device, or the design of a shoe. If the idea fits the criteria, it can be protected by either a design patent, trade dress, or both. Both trade dress and design patents are protective defenses, but consider their distinctions in the following paragraphs to know which path you need to take for the most efficient guarding of your precious ideas.

Trade Dress

Trade dress is a form of trademark and, as a trademark, is supported by the Lanham Act of 1946, which gives both registered and unregistered trademarks protection against infringement. Trade dress protects the look and feel of a product or a service that is associated with a particular brand. The design to be protected must be distinctive and primarily nonfunctional, meaning it cannot be a part of the operation of an item.

As a type of trademark, trade dress is explicitly tied to commerce and is meant to protect an association between the design and the brand. To receive the protection of a trade dress, the design must be used for a promotional purpose that ties it to a specific group or company. Trade dress is protected by common law, meaning that the protection is first granted when the item is used in commerce rather than when or if it is registered with the United States Patent andTrademark Office. Unregistered trade dress is limited to the geographic area of the business and the owner of the trade dress is responsible for policing it. Registered or unregistered, trade dress may last as long as it is used commercially.

Design Patents

A design patent provides legal protection for the unique visual qualities of a manufactured item. A design patent may be granted if the product has a distinct configuration, surface ornamentation or both. Although the article can provide functionality, the portion of the design to be protected cannot be purely functional. If the design is the only way to maintain the functionality of the article, the design is not eligible for design patent protection.As a type of patent, legal protection is guaranteed by a registration of the design in theUnited States Patent and Trademark Office. The design patent protects an item against others from making, using, or selling a product that has substantially similar designs as judged by an ordinary person. The patent protection is valid for 15 years from the time of issuance.

How Can Sumsion Business Law Help?

Once you have a brilliant idea and know it needs protection, Sumsion Business Law can take care of the rest. Our extensive experience protecting intellectual property equips us to determine and execute the type of protection your creativity needs. We can also assist in any case of trade dress or design patent infringement. We have extensive experience in protecting intellectual property and has been able to reach favorable settlements in cases of trade dress and design patent infringement.Your brilliance will be safe in our hands.

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