Can a patent be obtained on a new clothing design?

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Can a patent be obtained on a new clothing design?

For example patent on a different type of underwear not the design pattern on the underwear. If a new clothing design is not patentable, what other way can I protect the new design?

Asked on January 2, 2012 under Business Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Designs are most commonly protected by trademarks or copyright, though there is lesser known kind of patent called a "design patent" which can also protect design elements (it's much more expensive to seek this than a trademark or copyright, however). Patents typically cover functional elements--e.g. if you had come up with a new material to make the underwear out of, or were using a material not previously used for  underwear, that could be patented, as could new closures, ways of ensuring a good fit, etc.

If you plan on marketing and designing clothing, you should consult with an intellectual property attorney about your line(s) and design(s) in detail prior to spending alot of money on them, to see 1) whether they can be protected, 2) at what cost, and 3) how best to set things up so as to protect them. Good luck.


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