WASHINGTON—The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today officially issued U.S. design patent 1 million, an important milestone in American innovation and creativity.
Granted to Agustina Huckaby of Fort Worth, Texas, design patent 1 million is for the ornamental design for a dispensing comb. Huckaby, a licensed cosmetologist, holds another patent for a different comb design and markets her business under the federally registered trademark Pomp and Powder.
The USPTO grants design patents for new, original, and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture. Protecting the way something looks, as opposed to how it works (covered by a utility patent), is a vital step for many small businesses.
“Protecting their unique products can help entrepreneurs find funding and succeed in a competitive marketplace,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “Small businesses like Agustina’s have valuable intellectual property that they can protect and license – if they so choose – through design patents. 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.”
Huckaby is motivated by breaking down barriers and fostering relationships, as well as leaving a legacy for her three children. "Being able to own that design and having something for my kids to look up to and pass on, that’s groundbreaking to me,” she said of the importance of her intellectual property protection. “I want to keep growing, keep building, keep creating as much as I can.”
More inventors are applying for design patent protection than ever before. The USPTO received over 50,000 applications for design patent protection last year, while experiencing a 20% increase in applications over the last five years. “Reaching a milestone like 1 million design patents not only speaks to the ingenuity of inventors all over the world, but to the dedicated work of the USPTO’s 300+ design patent examiners who are the best at what they do,” said Commissioner for Patents Vaishali Udupa.
Design patents play a critical role driving the nation’s economy through consumer demand and the creation of new businesses and jobs. To better serve the American people, the USPTO recently worked with Congress to approve a re-organization package that elevates the Designs team within the Patents organization to its own division, with a new Deputy Commissioner for Designs. Other enhancements will be announced as the USPTO continues to elevate the important role of design patents in the marketplace.
Design patent 1 million comes 181 years after printer George Bruce received the first design patent granted in the United States for a new typeface, or font, in 1842. In the intervening decades, design patents have protected the unique appearance of products like Harley Davidson motorcycles and Eames chairs, as well as iconic characters such as Star Wars’ R2D2 and the image of Yoda. Learn more about patents throughout history with this list of patent milestones.
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