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The USPTO Proposes a Separate Design Patent Bar

June 29, 2023

On May 16, 2023, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a notice of proposed rule that would create a separate design patent bar. The proposed rule would allow more people the ability to practice before the USPTO on design patents.

Currently, in order to practice before the USPTO as a patent attorney or patent agent, you must pass the patent bar. To sit for the patent bar, applicants must have a scientific or technical degree, such as biology, engineering, computer science, chemistry, or physics.

The proposed rules for the design patent bar would allow an applicant to have a degree in industrial design, product design, architecture, applied arts, graphic design, fine/studio arts, art teacher education, or an equivalent design related degree. Design patent bar applicants would otherwise need to meet the same criteria as before, however, admitted design patent practitioners may practice before the USPTO in design patent matters only and would be required to denote “design” with their signature.

The USPTO will accept comments on the proposed rulemaking via its eRulemaking Portal through August 14, 2023.

Thomas B. Kern is a partner at Walter Haverfield. He advises and counsels entrepreneurs and businesses from a variety of industries at each stage of their life cycle. Thomas can be reached at or 614.246.2279.