Design Patents are a rare form of Fashion IP protection. Mainly because they are really expensive and take more time to become certified as opposed to its cousin protections, the trademark and the copyright. Fashion cycles and trends move very quickly so by the time you are granted a patent, the fashion item may be off the fashion scene.
So what is it? There are three types- one for designs, one for utility, and one for plants. We will only discuss the design and utility patents. "A design patent is granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A utility patent is granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements" says the U.S. Patent Office.
About how much does it cost? ...about $2500-$5000 not including maintenance fees.
How long does it take to file and how long is the protection? The filing and prosecution process averages 18-30 months. Ownership of the design lasts for 14 years.
How does one succed in registering a patent? A successful registered patent is one of novel design meaning that no one has a previously designed product like it.
Let's look at some of the Fashion Designs granted Patents in the past few years...
|Photo by Attorney Sarah Burnstein|
2. Hermes shoe.
|Lululemon Astro pant (left) & Calvin Klein (right)|
5. Alexander Wang for his Robyn hobo bag. Introduced in his Fall 2011 collection, this "Bag with Corners" protects the structured metal corners of the bag and the attached metal feet. This patent protection lasts for 14 years and prevents others form manufacturing bags with similar corners for the term of the patent. It is likely that the patent will extend to his other bag styles with similar corners, such as Wang's Emilie, Prisma, and Marion styles (see below in second picture).
|Wang's Robyn bag (left) & the drawing from his patent application (right)|
|Similar styled Wang bags. From left: Emilie, Marion & Prisma|