Regarding product protection in cross-border e-commerce, how to choose the correct patent application method? Utility or design?

How to choose the correct patent application method for cross-border e-commerce product protection? Utility or design?

Do you need to apply for a US design patent or invention patent?

For domestic applicants, such as cross-border e-commerce sellers, this should be one of the most common questions. Although these two categories of intellectual property protection are different, in this article, the author shares some useful advice by focusing on the applicant’s invention and tells everyone which type of patent application is most appropriate. In this article, by focusing on the applicant’s invention, the author shares some useful advice and tells everyone which type of patent application is most appropriate.

What is the general nature of your product?

Is your product a software app? Does it include hardware? Are you considering selling some simpler things, such as physical consumer goods with certain unique features? Does your idea involve a process or method? The general nature of your product is a good reference point for deciding whether to apply for a design patent or invention patent. If the appearance of the product is unique and primary, then a design patent application would be a good choice. If the function is what you want to protect, an invention patent would be the right choice. However, in some cases, applying for both an invention patent and a design patent may be more protective. We need to delve deeper into the innovative functionality to better understand which type of patent application is more suitable.

Is the innovative feature of your invention functional or visual?

Functionality and appearance are key to the above questions, but the answer to this question depends on the innovative features of the invention. In other words, the question is not whether the product is practical but whether the innovative feature is primarily visual or functional. It is possible to have a universally functional product but still apply for a design patent for certain decorative features of the product.

Here are some examples where applying for an invention patent is more protective:

  • Products that can generate additional beneficial effects that existing products lack or are insufficient in

  • Products that solve unmet needs

  • Processes or workflows that reduce costs, increase speed, or improve manufacturing efficiency

  • Mobile applications with unique functionality

  • Products that combine software and hardware

  • Products that help businesses become more efficient, profitable, effective, or intelligent

  • Products that convert energy or natural resources

If the innovative feature of a product is visual, an appearance patent should be applied for. The following are examples of cases where an appearance patent may be applicable:

  • Products with cool or bizarre appearance features

  • Products with unique or different aesthetic appearances

  • Two-dimensional graphic designs on products

  • Graphical user interfaces (GUIs)

  • Components of a product or system that are visually unique

  • Toys, hobbies, crafts, and gadgets that look different

If the innovative feature of a product combines both visual and functional aspects, it may require both an appearance patent and an invention patent. For example, due to some structural differences, you may have a more durable or lighter baby or children’s product. These structural differences need to be protected by an invention patent, while the aesthetic appeal of your product requires protection by an appearance patent.

US Patent Certificate Style

Disclaimer: This article is an original content of Hanxing Intellectual Property. Please do not plagiarize. Hanxing is committed to answering questions, disseminating knowledge about intellectual property and cross-border industry dynamics. If there is any infringement, please contact the editor to delete it in time!

Author: Cao Peng

Editors: Wang Taihai, Cao Yuan

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