The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has a regional office in Dallas, officially issued U.S. design patent 1 million to a Fort Worth entrepreneur, noting an important milestone in American innovation and creativity.
Granted to Agustina Huckaby, the USPTO said that design patent 1 million is for the ornamental design for a dispensing comb. The agency said that Huckaby, a licensed cosmetologist, also holds another patent for a different comb design and markets her business under the federally registered trademark Pomp and Powder.
The USPTO said it grants design patents for new, original, and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture. The agency said that protecting the way something looks, as opposed to how it works — which is 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,” Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, said in a statement.
Vidal says small businesses like Huckaby’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,” she said.
Huckaby said she 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,” Huckaby said. “I want to keep growing, keep building, keep creating as much as I can.”
Design patents on the rise
The USPTO said that more inventors are applying for design patent protection than ever before.
The office received more than 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,” Commissioner for Patents Vaishali Udupa said in a statement.
The USPTO said that design patents play a critical role in driving the U.S. economy through consumer demand and the creation of new businesses and jobs.
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.
It said that other enhancements will be announced as the USPTO continues to elevate the important role of design patents in the marketplace.
USPTO said that 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.
It said that in the ensuing decades, design patents have protected the unique appearance of products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles and Eames chairs, as well as iconic characters such as Star Wars’ R2D2 and the image of Yoda.
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