Consider Protecting the “Look and Feel” of your Online Store with a Design Patent

Modern retailers make sure to build their brand by portraying a consistent ‚look and feel‘ throughout their catalogs, advertisements, and websites.  For businesses with no brick-and-mortar location, this type of branding becomes even more important.  Business can protect the ‚online elements,‘ referred to as ‚graphical user interfaces‘ (GUIs) of their store with design patents.

Such protection has been possible since 1992 and the requirements were formalized in 1996 and again in 2005.  Static and animated images can be protected as ‚surface ornamentation‘.  This type of protection can help differentiate an online retailer from potential copycats and avoid customer confusion.


Of course, most websites contain dozens of visual elements, and few companies have the budget to protect them all.  Therefore, consider protecting only the most ‚iconic‘ elements of your website.  Be aware, however, that the USPTO follows strict guidelines for GUIs.  Be sure to consult an expert for the drafting of your application.  The experts at Cislo & Thomas LLP will be happy to help you with such an application.

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