Can You Patent Clothing?
If you've just finished working on a new line of clothing, you're probably wondering whether you can protect it with a patent? The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) issues design patents that protect the aesthetics or ornamental appearance of an object and utility patents that protect the functional aspects of an article of clothing. So, can a patent protect your clothing?
The short answer is yes, you can patent clothing using a design patent or utility patent. Patenting your clothing will allow you to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented clothing without your express permission.
You'll have the exclusive right to make and sell your clothing line, you will also be able to license the design or the invention of your clothing to third parties in exchange for a licensing fee. Also, if you wish, you can sell the patented design to another party.
If the piece of clothing or apparel that you want to protect has a new, functional aspect, you can file a utility patent application. Utility patents protect functional items, including clothing that has a new and unique function.
Problems with Protecting Clothing with a Patent
Now that we have covered how you can protect an article of clothing using either a utility patent or design patent, it’s important to understand the shortcomings associated with patent law protecting clothing.
It often takes the USPTO 20 months to approve or deny a design patent application and this is simply too slow in the fashion industry where trends tend to move fairly quickly. Often times, the design that’s sought to be patented is already out of fashion by the time the patent office issues the design patent. The USPTO does offer an expedited means of obtaining a design patent, but even then it takes 10 to 12 months to get a design patent approved.
In addition, although many makers of unique clothing designs will benefit from patenting their new designs, it is often cost-prohibitive for some people.
If you're an individual designer, you should expect to pay between $1,740 to $3,980 for an attorney to prepare and file your design patent application.
1. aesthetics n.（审）美学
2. ornamental adj. 装饰的；点缀的
3. apparel n.（商店出售的）服装
4. expedite v. 加速
5. attorney n. 律师