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Patent for invention and industrial design. What's the difference?

07 Sep 2023 (updated at 18 Jun 2024)
#Practical tips
Head of Department / Patent Attorney / Mechanics Engineer

Very often, clients turn to our company with a request to help obtain a patent for an invention or an industrial design, and someone wants to immediately obtain both patents, while not everyone understands the difference between an invention and an industrial design. In most cases, inventors substitute concepts or simply confuse them without attaching any importance to this. So, according to them, an invention is something breakthrough, necessarily large-scale and very significant, and sometimes bordering on a discovery, in which they are partly right, but an industrial design is a product that is manufactured in production or that has a prototype.

Let's try to understand the concepts of invention and industrial design from the point of view of legislation.

In accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 1350 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, a technical solution in any field related to a product or method, including the use of a product or method for a specific purpose, is protected as an invention. Products include, in particular, devices, complexes, kits, substances, strains of microorganisms, plant or animal cell cultures, genetic and protein constructs. Devices include products that do not have components (parts) or consisting of two or more parts interconnected by assembly operations that are in functional and structural unity (assembly units). With benefits are the processes of carrying out actions on a material object with the help of material means.

According to paragraph 1 of Article 1352, as an industrial design, the solution of the appearance of an industrial or handicraft product is protected. A product is understood to mean any product of industrial or handicraft production, in particular packaging, label, composite product, set (set) of products, font, as well as an independent part of the product. An industrial design is characterized by features that determine the appearance of the product, namely, the shape, configuration, ornament and combination of colors, lines, contours, decor of the product, texture or texture of the material of the product. Features that are solely due to the technical function of the product are not protected features of an industrial design. The appearance of the product is presented in the images and described by features with the allocation of essential, in the opinion of the applicant, features of the industrial design that determine its essence. The essential features of an industrial design include features if they determine the aesthetic features of the appearance of the product and form the visual impression produced by the industrial design.

Thus, the main difference between an invention and an industrial design is that an invention is a technical solution, and an industrial design is a decision of appearance or, in other words, a design.

Now let's look at the criteria for issuing a patent for an invention and a patent for an industrial design, as well as the duration of patents, since this also has its own differences.

An invention is granted legal protection if it is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable. Note that the novelty of the world, that is, the world should not be aware of the solution claimed for registration.

An industrial design is granted legal protection if it is new and original by its essential features. Note that the novelty of the world, that is, the world should not be aware of the design claimed for registration.

Now about the duration of patents: a patent for an invention is valid for 20 years, with the possibility of extension for no more than 5 years only for inventions related to a product such as a drug, pesticide or agrochemical; A patent for an industrial design is valid for 5 years, but can be repeatedly extended for five years, but in general for no more than twenty-five years, counting from the date of filing an application for a patent.

Summing up the difference between a patent for an invention and a patent for an industrial design, we summarize the main distinguishing features in a table:

Here is another question that is often asked to us by customers: can the same product be protected by both a patent for an invention and a patent for an industrial design? Let's give an unequivocal answer to it - yes, it can. In one product, both the technical component and the appearance can be patentable. Below is an example from practice:

Utility model patent No. 213,346 titled "AUTOMATIC FIRE STOP DEVICE", with the scope of legal protection, which is determined by independent clause 1 of the utility model formula:

device, consisting of a body, which is divided by a partition into an inlet cavity and an outlet cavity, having a hole in the partition, having a coaxial hole in the body above the hole in the partition, a base with a central hole is made in the coaxial hole, rigidly connected to an arcuate holder having a screw adjustable stop at the top of the holder, made coaxially with a hole in the partition, having a temperature-sensitive element installed in series between the screw adjustable stop and the hole in the partition, a stem, characterized in that the stem has a thickened head, on which a valve is installed, made together with the shank, on which a belleville spring with a central hole is fixed, fixed to the shank by means of a washer and nut, the movement of the valve at the end of the stem is limited by a rubber sealing ring, which is installed in the groove of the stem, at the base coaxially with its center a recess is made with a hole for placing a valve in it, a valve with a belleville spring is made with the possibility of closing the hole in the baffle, while a seat for the belleville spring is made on the hole in the baffle .

The technical solution is illustrated, in particular, figure 1:

Patent for industrial design No. 134721 entitled "AUTOMATIC FIRE SHUT-OFF AND START DEVICE". The appearance of the product is protected, in particular, by the following image:

In conclusion, I would like to note that the choice of a patent that needs to protect their decision is always at the discretion of the applicant, however, as patent attorneys, we recommend that you protect your decisions in a comprehensive manner. If it is possible to obtain several patents, then it is better to protect the technical component of your solution by issuing patents, for example, for the design as a whole and its individual most significant parts, assemblies, manufacturing technology, and the decision on the appearance of the product (design). The patent attorneys of Zuykov and partners will help you to approach this issue correctly, most economically, as well as evaluate all the pros and cons.

Head of Department / Patent Attorney / Mechanics Engineer