The clothing industry is fast-paced, and designers both small and large face the serious issue of design knockoffs. Some designers seek to patent their clothing designs to prevent others from copying their work. However, it is a long and difficult process.

Things You Will Need
  • Filing Fee (may vary)

  • Word processing program such as Microsoft Word

  • Black and white photos or drawings of your design

Step 1.

Determine whether your design is eligible for a patent. A patent is not the same as a copyright. If you want to apply for a patent, your design must be a new invention. For example, you cannot patent skinny jeans as they are not new.

Step 2.

Write the preamble to your patent application. This should include your name, the title of the design, a description of the nature of the design and its intended use.

Step 3.

Write a statement regarding federal sponsorship if the government sponsored your design research or development.

Step 4.

Write figure descriptions for each design drawing that you will submit with your application. Do not include details that the photos themselves explain. Instead, refer to each photo with straightforward descriptions such as “right side,” “left side” or “top view.”

Step 5.

Write the single claim to define the design you wish to patent and where it will be embodied or applied.

Step 6.

Include clear black and white drawings or photographs. These will act as the visual disclosure of your claim. Make sure nothing is left to discretion, and submit drawings of each angle of your design.

Step 7.

Send the complete application, the supporting documents and a check for the filing fee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450. The filing fee may vary as times change, so contact the USPTO before you write the check.


The process for patenting a clothing design is long, difficult, relatively expensive and takes an average of 18 months. If this is not worthwhile to you, consider applying for a Trade Dress, which can protect the “look” of your brand.