Preparing a Design Patent Application

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By Rich Stim

Patent attorneys and patent agents—professionals who have been licensed to practice before the USPTO—can analyze your design and properly advise you on whether pursuing a design patent is worthwhile. If so, the attorney or agent can prepare the application. If there is a problem at the USPTO—for example, an examiner challenges your application—the attorney or agent can respond and keep the application on track.

That said, if you’re a self-starter with a do-it-yourself mindset, you can, with a bit of work, prepare your own design patent application and save approximately a few thousand dollars in fees.

Below are basic instructions for preparing a design patent application for filing by mail and electronically. Providing extensive details for this application is beyond the scope of this book. If you would like more information, read David Pressman’s Patent It Yourself (Nolo), or read and download the design patent information provided at the USPTO website (

What's Needed to File?

If you’re filing with a paper application (and mailing the application by Express Mail), you’ll need the materials listed below. If filing electronically, you must reduce your application and drawings to PDF format and fill out electronic forms. In either case, you’ll need:

  • The “specification”—a short written document
  • drawing(s) showing the appearance of your design
  • the Design Patent Application Transmittal—a cover sheet that accompanies your application
  • the Declaration—an oath provided by the designer
  • the Fee Application Transmittal Form, and
  • a payment for the filing fee (check the USPTO website for current fees).


The specification is quite simple to prepare. The elements of the specification are fairly straightforward. You can find plenty of samples of design patents at the USPTO website or by searching Google patents. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to approach them:

Preamble—one or two boilerplate sentences announcing that you’re seeking a design patent.

Specification—the place to introduce your design by name. A basic title such as “glass bowl,” “puppet” or “steel table” will work best.

Cross References to Related Applications—here, you indicate if you have filed a previous design patent application to which this one is related.

Statement Regarding Federally Sponsored R & D—indicate here if the design was prepared under a government grant or as part of government research.

Description of the Figure(s) of the Drawings—describe the view presented in each of your drawing sheets.

Feature Description—provide a short description of your design, for example, “My candle is characterized by a pinwheel effect that gradually slopes outward.”


As you can see from the drawings in shown at the USPTO website or at Google patents., design patent drawings are technical and stylized. Each element—for example, the stippling (use of dots), the linear shading (use of lines) and the distinctive patterns (for indicating colors)—has a special meaning. You are allowed to provide informal drawings with your application, such as rough sketches or photographs, but your application will not be examined until you provide formal drawings similar to those shown in this chapter. For that reason, and to avoid delays, it is recommended that you provide formal drawings. (The only reason to furnish informal drawings is that you are in a hurry to obtain an early filing date but you haven’t had time to draft the drawings.)

With a little drawing skill or computer graphics knowledge, you can prepare formal drawings for your design patent application. In their book How to Make Patent Drawings Yourself (Nolo), David Pressman and Jack Lo explain how to prepare these drawings using computer software or pen and ink. One chapter is devoted solely to design patent drawing rules. If you prefer to have a professional draft your drawings, you can accomplish this relatively inexpensively (around $100 per drawing sheet; a sheet may contain one or two figures). You can probably find a suitable patent drafts person by typing “patent drawing” in your Internet search engine..

Designs are commonly depicted in different views or figures—for example, top views, side views or disassembled views. You should present as many views as are necessary to demonstrate your design. Each view provides another way of “seeing” the design. Each view is given a discrete figure number (abbreviated as “Fig” in patent law).

Other design patent articles that may help you:

Design Patent Basics

Should You Get a Design Patent?

Preparing a Design Patent Application