In an industry that has been around for hundreds of years, it would seem there isn’t much room for obtaining intellectual property. However, while utility patents may be somewhat difficult to obtain in the seemingly saturated bullet market, design patents are an avenue for obtaining coverage on new bullet designs. Design patents protect the way an article looks (e.g., the ornamental design). While bullet designs may seem somewhat standard, within the past year there continues to be design patents issued on new bullet designs. Some examples of recent design patents granted for bullets are shown below.
US D791266 (issued July 4th, 2017) discloses a new design for a firearm bullet. While FIGS. 1-5 of this patent focus on the shape of the bullet, FIGS. 6-10 also add a color design for the bullet.
US D780876 (issued March 7th, 2017) discloses a rifle bullet design. While the overall geometry seems similar to the first patent above, there are differences, including the bottom design, that differentiate these designs.
US D775305 (issued December 27th, 2016) discloses a bullet design with counter-clockwise slots in the body of the bullet.
US D774159 (issued December 13th, 2016) discloses another bullet design with a different outer profile geometry. The wavy profile looks like a series of rings when viewed from the top, as shown in Fig. 3.
So if you think you have a new bullet design and are interested in protecting it from competitors, consider strategic use of a design patent.