the firm's post-grant practitioners are some of the most experienced in the country.

Peifang  Tian, Ph.D.
Richard D. Kelly
Yuki  Onoe
Christopher I. Donahue
Edwin D. Garlepp
James R. Love
Ching-Cheng (Tony)  Chang
Stefan Uwe  Koschmieder, Ph.D.
Johnny  Ma
Diane  Jones
Yin Y. Nelson, Ph.D.
Kevin L. Hartman, Ph.D.
Kurt M. Berger, Ph.D.
Elissa L. Sanford
Yuanyi (Alex) Zhang, Ph.D.
Yanwen  Fei
Surinder  Sachar
Aldo  Martinez
Thomas M. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Yorikatsu  Hohokabe, Ph.D.
Christopher  Ricciuti
Carl E. Schlier
Eric W. Schweibenz
Tao  Feng, Ph.D.
Robert  Tarcu
Teddy S. Gron
Jianping (James)  Wu
Jeffrey B. McIntyre
Robert T. Pous
Frank J. West
Craig R. Feinberg
Philippe J.C. Signore, Ph.D.
John  Sipos
Akihiro  Yamazaki
Norman F. Oblon
Sameer  Gokhale
Chika (Teranishi) Iitoyo
Ryan W. Smith
Andrew M. Ollis
Kasumi  Kanetaka
Stephen G. Baxter, Ph.D.
Long  Phan, Ph.D.
Derek  Lightner, Ph.D.
Tia D. Fenton
John F. Presper
Maki  Saitoh
Marina I. Miller, Ph.D.
Alec M. Royka
Michael R. Casey, Ph.D.
Erik M. Stang, Ph.D.
David M. Longo, Ph.D.
Arthur I. Neustadt
Nanlin  Wang, Ph.D.
Jenchieh (Joseph) Yuan
Charles L. Gholz
Aristotelis M. Psitos
Nicholas  Rosa, Ph.D.
Colin B. Harris
Steven B. Chang
Vincent K. Shier, Ph.D.
Robert W. Downs
Kevin M. McKinley
Alexander B. Englehart
Jay E. Rowe, Jr., Ph.D.
John S. Kern
Eckhard H. Kuesters
Brian B. Darville
J. Derek  Mason, Ph.D., CLP
Dale M. Shaw
Kevin Ross  Davis
Anna Z. Lloyd
Grace E. Kim
Daniel J. Pereira, Ph.D.
Soumya  Panda
Bogdan A. Zinchenko

Technologies

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Digital Health
Digital Health
Energy & Renewables
Energy & Renewables

Fast Facts

About Our

Law Firm

About Our Law Firm

Headquartered within steps of the USPTO with an affiliate office in Tokyo, Oblon is one of the largest law firms in the United States focused exclusively on intellectual property law.

Get to know our

History

Get to know our History

1968
Norman Oblon with Stanley Fisher and Marvin Spivak launched what was to become Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, LLP, one of the nation's leading full-service intellectual property law firms.

Our Local and

Global Reach

Our Local and Global Reach

Outside the US, we service companies based in Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and farther corners of the world. Our culturally aware attorneys speak many languages, including Japanese, French, German, Mandarin, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Farsi, Chinese.

A few of our

ACCOLADES

A few of our ACCOLADES

Oblon's professionals provide industry-leading IP legal services to many of the world's most admired innovators and brands.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR

Career

OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR Career

From the minute you walk through our doors, you'll become a valuable part of a team that fosters a culture of innovation, client service and collegiality.

A few ways to

GET In Touch

A few ways to GET In Touch
US Office

Telephone: 703-413-3000
Learn More +


Tokyo Office

Telephone: +81-3-6212-0550
Learn More +

Downloadable

Patent Forms

Downloadable Patent Forms

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued final rules implementing the inventor's oath or declaration provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA) on August 14, 2012.

Thinking Outside the (Utility Patent) Box – Don't Overlook Design Patent Protection in the Life Sciences

  • August 30, 2019
  • Article

Design patents are very different from utility patents in that design patents only protect the ornamental features of an invention. In contrast to utility patents, the design is defined in scope by the content of the drawings rather than the words of a set of claims. Further, design patents have a 15 year term, as opposed to 20 years from filing for utility patents.

The USPTO issues about 25,000 design patents each year, making them by far the minority of patents pursued and granted. Regardless, design patents have gained more recognition in recent years, in part based on the large damages awarded in the Apple-Samsung smartphone patent wars which included several design patents. Thus, stakeholders should not overlook whether or not their technology may be amendable to design patent protection.

Notably, and contrary to instinct, an ornamental design that is worthy of design patent protection does not have to be aesthetically pleasing. Design patents can cover any design as long as it is not dictated by the product’s function.

Life sciences areas where design patent protection may be appropriate include, but of course are not limited to, bone or dental implants, diagnostic devices, laboratory consumables, prosthetics, cosmetic skin treatment devices, medical/laboratory protective clothing, and graphical user interfaces in software components. 

Some recent examples of design patents granted in the life sciences, illustrating a subset of the vast array of patentable subject matter, are shown in the below table:



Obtaining design patents tends to be cheaper, quicker, and easier than utility patents. That being said, careful consideration should be given to the scope of the design patent, and irrelevant details should not be included, because those provide loopholes for potential infringers in the future.

Design patent coverage can complement utility patent coverage and strengthen a portfolio overall because competitors will have to consider the appearance of a particular product in addition to functionality that may be covered by a utility patent. In addition, a design patent can be filed to cover the latest iteration of a product, extending coverage past the life of a utility patent.

Accordingly, medical device companies that have invested time and money in designing products should consider whether or not a design patent may be appropriate, particularly if the product has features that may be difficult to protect with a traditional utility patent.