Copyright & Patents/patent pending


Hi George,
I'm looking at creating a baby product that has a plastic clip as part of it. These clips are found in abundance in China. However I found one particular brand of the same type of product with a plastic clip and it says "Patent Pending" on the clip. Here are my questions:
1) Is it possible they could be applying for a utility patent on this when there are already so many other similar clips selling in the US, or is it more likely to be a design patent?
2) Is there a way to look up a pending patent application on USPTO?
3) With design patents, are there some guidelines in terms of how different your design has to be in order to not violate the patent?
Thanks in advance for your time on this!

1. Who knows?  Probably a design patent is the way to go. Considering it is China, they may have just put "Patent Pending" to fake everyone out. The Chinese are not overly respectful of intellectual property.
2. If the application is 18 months old, unless non publication was requested (by a small entity, under 500 employees) it would be published by the USPTO.
3. The test is whether or not the competing product would be confused with the patented product if side by side in the marketplace. That is somewhat subjective.

I hope that helps. Best wishes!  

Copyright & Patents

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George H. Morgan, P.E., Patent Agent


U.S. Patent Law only, no copyright or trademark qualification. I was a volunteer in the past, but my homeland defense activities pulled me away at times, and I was dropped. If you want me back, I am willing to come back.


Thirty one years as a Registered U.S. Patent Agent and a lifetime in product and manufacturing process and methods development as well as sales and marketing of new products with a number of blue chip corporations.

Rotary, Society of Automotive Engineers, American Army Aviation Association, Registered Professional Engineer, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Indiana Guard Reserve Officer

Various Society of Manufacturing Engineers & Society of Automotive Engineers technical publications. Ref. my web site:

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Machine Design Option), L.S.U., Baton Rouge, Louisiana; M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics Option), University of Missouri at Rolla, Missouri, Helicopter Maintenance Course, 18 weeks, Ft. Sill Army Aviation School, Troop Information and Education Leadership Course, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, Numerous Society of Automotive Engineers Seminars, Dale Carnegie Management Training Instructors Course.

Awards and Honors
Bausch & Lomb Science Award, Indiana Homeland Defense Service Ribbon, 2003.

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