Design patents protect novel and inventive ornamental designs embodied by articles of manufacture. Patentable designs may be found in a wide variety of articles. For example, patentable designs may be embodied by tennis shoes, car bodies, truck grills, computer-generated icons, and even cable connectors and ink cartridges. Comprehensive intellectual property protection for a product can be achieved by recognizing patentable ornamental features of the product in addition to its patentable utilitarian features.
Like examination of a utility patent application, a patent examiner examines a design patent application during prosecution to determine whether the application complies with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office regulations. The examiner determines whether the design application claims statutory subject matter; provides a complete and enabling description of the invention; and provides a claim that particularly points out and distinctly claims the invention. Unlike a utility patent application, however, the specification and claim in a design patent application are the same: the drawings of the design as filed with the application.