Patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patents provide limited protection by keeping others from duplicating an invention with the intent of making a profit. While there are three different classifications for patents – utility, plant and design – a new shoe would most likely be protected by a design patent. Once issued, the patent would last for 14 years.
Before Applying for a Patent
As you develop your idea for a new shoe design, it's important to document everything you do, including drawings and notes of the process, and keep it in a safe place. If you are constructing a prototype of the shoe, take photos of that process too. Date and sign all documentation and have two witnesses sign them. If you are uncertain about any part of the patent process, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer with experience helping clients obtain patents.
Applying for a patent can be expensive, so you should be relatively certain that you will be able to make money from your shoe design – such as producing and selling it yourself or selling the design to a shoe manufacturer. Once you are certain there is a commercial value for your new shoe design, do a thorough patent search at uspto.gov, the United States Trademark and Patent Office website, to be certain no one else has already developed and patented the same shoe already. While there is a search fee when you apply for a patent, searching the USPTO database yourself beforehand is free. If you plan to file patents in other countries, you should research patents in those countries too.
Prepare the Patent
Fill out the Declaration for Utility or Design Patent with invention title, inventor name, address, telephone number and email information. Produce a PDF or .TXT file that explains the shoe idea in compliance with United States Code Title 35, Section 112. Produce a PDF of illustrations that visually depicts the shoe idea in compliance with United States Code Title 35, Section 113.
Register the Application
Register electronically with the USPTO. Select "Design" and "Nonprovisional Application" under the "New Application" section. Enter application data, including inventor name, address and telephone number. Upload the Declaration for Utility or Design Patent, shoe idea explanation and illustrations.
Pay the necessary fees from the official list of Patent Service Fees and submit the application. Print the acknowledgment receipt as submission evidence.
It is possible to do this without the assistance of an attorney, but an experienced attorney can help ensure your application is accepted the first time.