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Design Patent Bar Proposed
May 24, 2023
Companies in certain industries – bicycle manufacturers, mobile phones, robots – find that design patents offer protections that utility patents can’t equal. The total number issued annually has been increasing rapidly in the past 20 years, and now the United States Patent and Trademark Office is proposing to create a separate design patent practitioner bar. The proposed rule, published May 16 in the Federal Register, would establish a separate bar for specialists in design patents, ensuring that they have the necessary qualifications, but making room for non-engineers. Currently, design patent practitioners must have an engineering degree even though the patents cover ornamentation. There would still be some technical requirements, a degree in industrial design, product design, architecture, applied arts, graphic design, fine/studio arts, or art teacher education. The proposal envisions all existing members of the patent bar continuing to practice. The USPTO will accept comments on the proposal through August 14, 2023, via the regulations.gov portal.
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