The Basics


A visitor from another planet might wonder why the toothbrush depicted here looks like a telephone. Those of us on planet earth already know the answer—the toothbrush looks like a telephone because it can! In today’s world a telephone can look like a banana, a radio can look like a football, and a desk lamp can look like the Mighty Hulk cartoon character.

It is because industrial designs are so valuable that the U.S. has established a patent system for protecting them. There are three requirements to get a design patent. The design must be:

In addition to the requirements listed above, the filing must be done prior to any sale or publication of the design (with limited exceptions if the sale was under the direction of the designer and within one year of the filing). If the USPTO is unaware of violations of this rule and issues a design patent, the patent will be declared invalid if someone can later show that the design was publicly shown or sold.

© 2012 Rich Stim