This article supplements our previous post with updated 2021 data.

U.S. design patents continue to grow in popularity. Although 2021 saw a slight downtick in the number of issued design patents compared to the previous two years—most likely caused by lower filings during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic—the number of U.S. design patents that issued in 2021 was still greater than the number of U.S. design patents that issued in each year between 2012-2018, and was more than 50% greater than the number of U.S. design patents that issued in 2012. With the number of U.S. design patent examiners also increasing, we expect the number of issued designs in 2022 to outpace 2021 and possibly set a new annual issuance record.
Continue Reading Recent Trends in Article of Manufacture of Design Patent Claims: GUIs Remain King

Over the last 20 years, the total number of design patents issued per year in the United States has erupted. As illustrated in the graph below and further highlighted in this animated graph, in the 30 year period between the years 1971 and 2000 a total of nearly 219,000 design patents were issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). In the 20 years since the year 2000, nearly 471,000 design patents have been issued, representing an annual issue count of more than three times that of the previous 30 year period. While the overall number of issued designs continues to increase each decade, one particular article of manufacture has seen the largest uptick in popularity among design patents issued over the last ten years: graphical user interfaces.
Continue Reading Recent Trends in Article of Manufacture of Design Claims: A Modern Digital Popularity Contest

This is the first article in a planned series that will analyze available design protection strategies for various categories of products.

Now that the era of work-from-anywhere and software-for-any-service has fully arrived, obtaining proper legal protection for software is paramount for many companies.  However, due to an expansive interpretation by courts of the “abstract idea” exception to utility patent eligibility in recent years, protection for software-based systems and methods via utility patents has been made difficult.  Accordingly, companies in this space should look to employ design-related rights to protect their software.

In this post, we will address how design patent, copyright, and trademark laws can be employed  to provide protection for software-based designs.
Continue Reading Protecting the Product™: Software

Two recent decisions by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) highlight the nuances of allowable and impermissible drawing amendments during prosecution of U.S. design patent applications, and provide important guidance to design patent applicants on how to prepare their applications to ensure maximum flexibility during prosecution.
Continue Reading Recent PTAB Guidance on Permissible Drawing Amendments for U.S. Design Applications