USPTO Issues Final Rule Establishing Separate Design Patent Bar | Practical Law

USPTO Issues Final Rule Establishing Separate Design Patent Bar | Practical Law

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a final rule establishing a separate design patent bar for practitioners to represent others in design patent matters only.

USPTO Issues Final Rule Establishing Separate Design Patent Bar

Practical Law Legal Update w-041-4198 (Approx. 3 pages)

USPTO Issues Final Rule Establishing Separate Design Patent Bar

by Practical Law Intellectual Property & Technology
Published on 16 Nov 2023USA (National/Federal)
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a final rule establishing a separate design patent bar for practitioners to represent others in design patent matters only.
On November 16, 2023, the USPTO issued a final rule establishing a separate design patent bar for practitioners to represent others before the USPTO (88 Fed. Reg. 78644 (Nov. 16, 2023)).
Previously, there was only one patent bar that applied to qualify attorneys to practice in patent matters before the USPTO, including utility, plant, and design patents. The same scientific and technical requirements for admission to practice applied regardless of the type of patent application.
On May 16, 2023, the USPTO issued a proposed rule establishing a separate design patent bar and sought comments from interested parties. For more on the proposed rulemaking, see Legal Update, USPTO Seeks Comments on Proposed Separate Design Patent Practitioner Bar.
After reviewing the comments, the USPTO adopted the proposed rules and issued this final rule, under which:
  • Applicants seeking admission to the design patent bar must:
    • have a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree in one of the areas the USPTO considers when hiring design patent examiners (or an equivalent): industrial design, product design, architecture, applied arts, graphic design, fine or studio arts, or art teacher education;
    • take and pass the current registration examination with modified scientific and technical requirements; and
    • pass a moral character evaluation.
  • Admitted design patent practitioners:
    • may practice in design patent matters only; and
    • must include "design" when signing USPTO documents to indicate their designation as a design patent attorney or agent.
  • The design patent practitioner bar does not:
    • impact the ability of already-registered USPTO practitioners to practice in any patent matters, including design patent matters, before the USPTO; or
    • limit the ability of applicants who meet the current criteria, including qualifying for and passing the current registration exam, to practice in any patent matters before the USPTO.
The final rule will be effective on January 2, 2024.