How can we leverage a good design idea in the apparel space?


Some friends and I have come up with a unique design idea in the apparel space. This is NOT our core competency, but we've presented the idea publicly, and gotten extremely positive responses.

I have discussed the idea with an experience patent attorney and they feel that we can get a design patent on the idea with sufficient coverage to protect us if we take this to market.

Since we do not have any expertise in creating an apparel company, it seems like the most straightforward approach is to obtain a design patent, then license it to someone with experience in this space.

  • Is that viable?
  • How would we find such a company?

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asked Jan 14 '12 at 09:43
18 points
  • Please define "presented the idea publicly". Per US patent law, you might have triggered the public disclosure clause and your time to file for a patent is getting shorter day-by-day (365 days since public demo). Also, is this an invention or an apparel line? If it's the latter, you're talking about copyrights not patents. – Dnbrv 12 years ago
  • It's an invention... I'm not convinced that copyrights and design patents are mutually exclusive. It definitely fits within the definition given on Wikipedia ( By "presented the idea publicly", we almost certainly started the clock on that 365 days. – Stringfellow 12 years ago

1 Answer


First off, I've never heard of this in apparel. A patent?

I feel this attorney is misguiding you.

I'm always wary of any business model that requires you to get a patent because that means whatever you're making is easily replicable. In which case, you want to strive for better company culture, better customer service, or some other niche. In this era of business there are no new ideas and patent law can so easily be circumvented and doesn't apply outside the United States for US Patents.

If you really have a great idea, run with it by beginning to make your product and sell it. Have you sold any yet? Do you know if people will buy, not just say they will. Make a prototype and sell it to these people who said they liked it.

Also, most competitors will not try to copy you until you're successful. They're not going to risk their capital and reputation to try something untested and unproven. If you hit it hard enough, you could have a really solid reputation with your customers before any copycats get to your idea. Be sure to brand it!

The only time I would ever get a patent is for a sophisticated piece of technology.

answered Jan 15 '12 at 06:32
Ryan Chatterton
921 points
  • It is definitely easily replicable (almost trivially, in fact), hence the design patent. Think along the lines about the unique shape of the Coca-Cola bottle. We have not sold any yet, though we've gotten quite a few offers to buy our demo units (which we don't sell). We're wary of trying to go into production without having patent protection, because of how easily replicable it is. – Stringfellow 12 years ago

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