Law & Order

U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Design Patents for Crash Parts

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Intellectual Property Subcommittee held a hearing on a bill that would reduce the length of design patents for automotive crash parts from 14 years to 30 months, including those previously issued. A design patent protects the unique visual ornamental characteristics of a product rather than its structure or function. Crash parts include fenders, hood, lights, side mirrors and quarter panels. 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has ruled that such parts produced by the automakers are eligible for design patent registration. The legislation faces considerable opposition in the House and no action has been scheduled to date on a similar bill in the U.S. Senate. 

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