A design patent is granted by a government to protect the designer (called the inventor on the patent) for the way an article looks. All design patents reproduced on this website were granted by the U.S. government and remained in effect for a maximum of seven years (more commonly, three and a half years). An item was produced as soon as the design patent was issued or even when it was pending because the application process could take many months. A 1955 court decision in a lawsuit involving Trifari and Charel granting costume jewelry protection under the U.S. copyright laws nearly ended the use of design patents by jewelry manufacturers.
Design patents are useful tools for identifying both the year a particular piece was designed and its designer. A patent was applied for in the name of an individual, unless the application was made on behalf of a third party (an assignee), whose name was stated on the patent. Design patents each have six-digit numbers that are preceded by the letter D. The first page of each patent shows the design from two different angles, usually the front and the side. The second page contains only verbiage stating the name of the person to whom the patent is granted, the assignee (if any), the term of the patent, and the inventor’s statement that the design is original.
When I have been able to identify a design patent for a piece in the TruFaux Jewels collection, I have included the first page of the patent (the technical drawings) among the photos for that piece. If you wish to view a particular design patent, go to this page on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. Enter the patent number preceded by the letter D in the search field in the upper left corner. If the number has fewer than seven digits, add as many leading zeros as needed.