Are Eyeglasses Protected From Copyright Law?

Eyeglasses and Design Patents

The United States’ copyright laws provide that any individual responsible for inventing a new and ornamental design should be granted a design patent. This includes various items ranging from fabrics to fashion eyeglasses designs. Eyeglasses are commonly designed and developed as an important accessory in the fashion industry. They usually fall under the design patent, whereby the articles’ ornamental appearance is protected.

The Scope

eyeglasses copyrightsUnder the design patent and copyright regulations, the utilitarian and structural features of eyeglasses are left out. If a design is ornamental as well as utilitarian in nature, a design patent won’t provide adequate protection. It is therefore important for frame designers to understand that design patents only hold meaning to designs that have been developed solely to create an ornamental look. Before patenting their newly designed glasses, designers should determine whether their product is ornamental or also has utilitarian value.

Today, the test to determine infringement of a design patent has changed. The new standard requires one to merely determine if the accused product and the patented design appear to be “substantially the same”. Designing for new frames should be original and must appear quite different from any other patented sunglasses .

The Process

copyrighted glassesWhen it comes to frames, most designers prefer design patents. This is because they are usually much simpler than utility patents. They have a short specification and follow a predefined form. The drawings in both of these forms are quite similar; however, the difference arises when the drawings of design patents only show the ornamental features of the glasses, leaving out their utilitarian aspects.

When the application is accepted, an allowance notice will then be forwarded to the applicant’s attorney. Fees will be required for the patent to be issued. However, the fees levied on design patents are close to one-third of that charged for utility patents. Moreover, no maintenance fees are required.