How to Start a Design Patent Application

Design Patent Application: Where to Start

Are you thinking about filing a design patent, but not sure where to begin? You found the right post. We’ll walk through the information and materials required to start the design patent application process.

Need to file a design patent? Call US patent attorney Vic Lin at (949) 223-9623 or email to see how we can help file your design patent.

In this post, we will discuss:

  1. whether you should be filing a design patent or utility patent;
  2. 3D file is best for preparing drawings, but product photos would work;
  3. optional Rocket Docket to speed up examination;
  4. whether you or your company will own the design patent; and
  5. our retainer.

Dumb Question: Are you sure you want a design patent and not a utility patent?

Before commencing the design patent process, make sure you understand the difference between design and utility patents. A design patent protects the ornamental appearance of your product and not its functionality.

Even if design patents make sense, you should not rule out the possibility of applying for utility patents if your concept includes unique functional features.

Do you have a 3D file or photos of your design?

Preparing design patent drawings will likely be the task that takes the most time. Any 3D files such as CAD or STP can shorten the time required by the illustrator and possibly reduce costs.

So be prepared to send us a 3D file of your product design if possible.

If you do not have a 3D file, then please send photos of your product showing the following views/angles:

  • top
  • bottom
  • front
  • rear
  • left side
  • right side
  • (optional) three-dimensional angle to help capture any surfaces or contours

Though optional, we typically like to include an isometric perspective view from a 3-dimensional angle to help show the contours and shapes that might not be apparent from the other head-on views.

If you do not have any 3D files or photos of your design, you may first need to work with a patent illustrator before moving forward with the application.

Expect to wait about one to two weeks for a set of design patent drawings. As discussed above, a 3-dimensional file can help shorten this timeframe.

Do you want to expedite your design patent examination?

You can speed up the examination of your design patent application by filing a Rocket Docket request, which will cost an additional $1,640 for a small entity or $1,320 for a micro entity. A standard design patent application can about 18-24 months to get an initial review by the USPTO patent examiner.

By expediting your design patent application, you can expect to receive an initial review within a few months from the Rocket Docket grant date. So you have to ask yourself whether saving a couple of years of time is worth spending an additional $1,640.

Keep in mind that a Rocket Docket requires a prior art search. Though you can request Rocket Docket after the initial filing of your application, we recommend making this decision at the start of the design patent process.

If you decide early on to pursue Rocket Docket, we can conduct the prior art search while waiting for the design patent drawings. That way, the drawings and prior art search can be done in parallel to avoid delay.

Expect a prior art search to take about 5-7 business days.

Will you or your company own the patent?

If the design patent will be owned by your company, then your company may qualify as small entity if it has fewer than 500 employees. As a small entity, the USPTO fees will be less than half of what is paid by a large entity.

If you, as an individual, are the owner of the design patent, then you will at least qualify as a small entity. For those who meet the income requirements and have not filed more than four prior patent applications, then you might qualify as a micro entity. At the beginning of each new year, micro entity applicants should double-check whether any income or patent filings in the prior calendar year may have disqualified them from such status.

USPTO fees for a micro entity are 50% less than those for a small entity. So you’ll save a couple hundred bucks with the initial filing and a little over $300 for the Rocket Docket request.

How much is our retainer to file a design patent application?

The amount of our required retainer will depend upon the filing design patent cost factors:

  • Are you a small entity or micro entity?
  • Do you want to submit a Rocket Docket request?

Our firm does not file micro entity applications for companies. So if you are filing on behalf of a corporation or LLC, then expect to pay small entity USPTO fees. We file micro entity applications for individuals only.

For a small entity (individuals and companies), our retainer amount will be:

  • $1,450 for initial filing
  • $3,090 for initial filing with Rocket Docket

For a micro entity (individuals only), our retainer amount will be:

  • $1,250 for initial filing
  • $2,570 for initial filing with Rocket Docket

Ready to start your design patent application?

Every new client is required to sign our firm’s engagement agreement and provide the requisite retainer. To get started on working with us, call US patent attorney Vic Lin at (949) 223-9623 or email to request our engagement agreement and retainer payment instructions.

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