On Sept. 26, 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its 1 millionth design patent to Agustina Huckaby of Fort Worth, Texas, for the “ornamental design for a dispensing comb.”
A licensed cosmetologist, Huckaby also has a patent for a different comb design, and her business owns the registered trademark Pomp and Powder.
So, why might an entrepreneur want a design patent for their product? Read on to find out.
What Are Design Patents?
While utility patents protect the process or function of an invention, design patents protect the way something looks. Some recognizable examples include:
Remarking on the nation’s 1 millionth design patent, Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, spoke about the importance of design patents for American entrepreneurs.
“Protecting their unique products can help entrepreneurs find funding and succeed in a competitive marketplace,” Vidal said. “From the original Coca Cola bottle to the Statue of Liberty to the Medal of Honor and beyond, design patents protect iconic and unique designs, and help businesses grow and prosper.”
Whether a business owner believes their product has advantageous ornamental or aesthetic features, or they are interested in protecting the unique visual aspects of a product to support their overall brand identity, earning a design patent can provide distinct competitive advantages.
When paired with other intellectual property protections like utility patents, trademarks and copyrights, a design patent can serve as part of a larger intellectual property strategy that provides even greater advantages and protections. This is a strategy National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees Spencer Silver and Art Fry employed when developing the iconic Post-it® Note.
Are There Any Design Patent Holders in the National Inventors Hall of Fame?
While selection for induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame takes into consideration an individual’s utility and plant patents only, several of our Inductees also have earned design patents. These visionary innovators include:
- S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker – Portable Hand-Held Electric Drill
- Amar Bose – Feedback Control
- Per-Ingvar Brånemark – Modern Dental Implant
- Garrett Brown – Steadicam® Camera Stabilizer
- Rory Cooper – Wheelchair Technology
- Thomas Edison – Electric Lamp
- Louis Keller – Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loader
- Steve Jobs – iPod User Interface and many other design patents
- Lonnie Johnson – Super Soaker®
- Frederick McKinley Jones – Mobile Refrigeration
- Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith – Sports Bra
- Paul MacCready – Gossamer Condor
- Gary Michelson – Spinal Surgical Devices
- John Northrop – Flying Wing Plane
Learn More About Intellectual Property
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