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Mar 13, 2014

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How Do You Search For A Design Patent in the USPTO Database?

Amazon If you have used USPTO, or United States Patent and Trademark Office, to search for a patent you may be wondering how to search within a specific patent type. If you want to know how to run patentability analysis on a design concept, or how to search for a design patent given some keywords, or how to find similar design patents to your new design idea, you've come to the right place.

There are two main patents types: utility and design. The patent type is actually one of the searchable fields in the advanced query system on the USPTO website. Let's follow the following steps.

Go to USPTO Patent Full Text and Image Database

At the time of the writing the URL of USPTO Patent Full Text and Image Database is

In fact, if you click on Application Type you'll see explanation of Application Type as the following:

Application Type (APT)

This field contains a single-digit number which indicates the type of patent, as follows:

1 = Utility
2 = Reissue
4 = Design
5 = Defensive Publication
6 = Plant
7 = Statutory Invention Registration

TIP: To limit a search to Design Patents, search "4" in the APT field and AND with other criteria. E.g., APT/4 AND TTL/toy.

As you can see 4 stands for Design in the Application Type field.

Type in Your Query

Therefore your query must include the following part:


Suppose you'd like to search for drawings related to a monitor and a mobile device, you can use the following query:

APT/4 and ttl/monitor and ttl/mobile

This query gives you six results at the time of the writing.

Obviously if you'd like to search within utility patents you'd include APT/1 in your query.

Advanced Query

If you'd like to see broader results, you can use the following query:

APT/4 and ttl/(monitor or display or screen) and ttl/(mobile or smart or smartphone)

This query gives you almost one hundred results at the time of the writing.


Q: Can drawings in a utility patent be used as prior art against a design patent application?

A: No. But drawings in a design patent can be used against a design patent application as a prior art. Also drawings in publications such as magazines and newspaper can be used as a prior art against a design patent application under public knowledge doctrine.

If you have any questions let me know and I will do my best to help you!
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