This option is a less direct route for protecting your image. If you create a product, like a toy or a website, you may be able to patent the design of your product. Design patents allow you to prevent others from either directly copying your design or creating a “substantially similar” design. To understand what counts as “substantially similar,” you’ll want to consult with an attorney.
Design patents offer broad or narrow protection depending on your industry. If you’re in an industry where a wide variety of design options are acceptable and no one design preference tends to dominate, a design patent will offer narrow protection. However, if you’re in an industry where specific designs dominate, such as the fashion industry, design patents can give you a stronghold in the market.
Keep in mind: when making a claim that someone has infringed your design patent, you can’t argue that they violated it by damaging your reputation or the reputation of your product. That’s why this is considered an indirect way of protecting your image. Instead, you’ll have to argue that the other party copied your design or created a different design that is, nonetheless, substantially similar to your patented design.
Additionally, keep in mind that obtaining design patent protection requires some foresight. If your design has been available to the public for more than a year, you won’t be able to get a design patent. So, when you’re creating a new design, consider whether it may be tempting to others to copy your design before releasing it to the public.