USPTO issues 1 millionth design patent, to Texas woman for ornamental design of dispensing comb

One-hundred eighty-one years after the issuance of the first design patent by the then-United States Patent Office, the 1 millionth patent is in the books. Based on the rapidly increasing number of design patents in recent years, it probably won’t take another 181 years to hit 2 million. 

Agustina Huckaby of Fort Worth, Texas, reached the milestone on September 26 for her ornamental design for a dispensing comb. Huckaby, a licensed cosmetologist, holds another patent for a different comb design and markets her business under the federally registered trademark Pomp and Powder.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office grants design patents for new, original, and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture. Protecting the way something looks, as opposed to how it works (covered by a utility patent), is a vital step for many small businesses.

Huckaby is motivated by breaking down barriers and fostering relationships, as well as leaving a legacy for her three children.

“Being able to own that design and having something for my kids to look up to and pass on, that’s groundbreaking to me,” she said of the importance of her intellectual property protection. “I want to keep growing, keep building, keep creating as much as I can.”

More inventors are applying for design patent protection than ever. The USPTO received over 50,000 applications for design patent protection last year while experiencing a 20 percent increase in applications over the last five years.

Design patents play a critical role driving the nation’s economy through consumer demand and the creation of new businesses and jobs. To better serve the American people, the USPTO recently worked with Congress to approve a re-organization package that elevates the Designs team within the Patents organization to its own division, with a new deputy commissioner for designs. Other enhancements will be announced as the USPTO continues to elevate the important role of design patents in the marketplace.

Printer George Bruce received the first design patent granted in the United States for a new typeface, or font, in 1842. In intervening decades, design patents have protected the unique appearance of products like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Eames chairs, as well as iconic characters such as Star Wars’ R2D2 and the image of Yoda.

For a list of milestone patents throughout history, click here.