Design patents now have a longer term and broader scope.
15 year term and up to 100 different designs in one application. File fewer patents and $ave money!
As of May 13, 2015, applicants from the United States of America can file design patent applications under the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement). Based on this international agreement, design patent applications will now have a term of 15 years from the date of issue rather than 14 years, and applicants will be able to file up to 100 different designs in one application. What is a design patent? A design patent (also called a registration for industrial design) is the exclusive right to make and use a product with a specific design. Design patents cover the visual design of a product and does not cover the functional elements of a design. Design patents cover the shape and look of cell phone, the body shape of a new car design, as well as many other designs.
Design patent applications primarily show the design in drawings, and cover designs that use the same or similar design as shown in the drawings. Usually design patents are not considered to have a broad scope of coverage because it is limited to the specific design and equivalents. Under the Hague Agreement applicants can file multiple designs under one application, which may result in significant savings of costs. For example, currently the actual filing fee costs for one design application in the US may be $760 for a large entity (and 10 applications would be $7,600), but under the Hague Agreement the filing fees with 10 designs designating only the United States may be about $3,620.00. The larger cost savings, however, are likely to come in attorney fees and time savings by filing one application compared to 10 applications. For applicants who want coverage in other countries the opportunity for costs savings increases as one application can be used to apply in 65 jurisdictions including the US, Japan, European Union, Korea, and many other countries. Fees for the application increase as countries are added to the application, and based on the number of designs and size of the application. While filing fees can become significant across multiple countries, the cost savings of reducing the number of filings can make it easier for companies to patent or register their industrial designs in multiple countries. Filing multiple designs in one application can also be a way to broaden the scope of coverage for a design patent. Applicants can still file a design patent through the normal process at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but they will be limited to one design, and will not have the opportunity to use the filing in multiple countries.
For more information- http://www.uspto.gov/patent/initiatives/hague-agreement-concerning-international-registration-industrial-designs