Utility Patent vs. Design Patent: Everything You Must Know (2022)

A utility patent and design patent differ because utility patents cover unique ideas or inventions but design patents are for new designs of existing products.11 min read

1. Utility Patent vs. Design Patent
2. What Is a Utility Patent?
3. Advantages of Utility Patent Application
4. Disadvantages of Utility Patent Application
5. What Is a Design Patent?
6. What's the Disadvantage to a Design Patent?
7. What Is an Example of a Design Patent?
8. Are There Any Other Kinds of Patents?
9. How Do You Get a Utility Patent or a Design Patent?
10. Which Patent Is Harder to Get?
11. What Are the Patent Rules and Procedures?
12. What Happens When Someone Infringes on a Design Patent?
13. When to File Both a Design Patent Application and a Utility Patent Application
14. A Brief Warning to Inventors and the Unaware

A utility patent vs. a design patent may have inventors wondering which one is best for their invention. Utility patents and design patents differ because utility patents cover unique ideas or inventions, but design patents are for new designs of existing products.

Utility Patent vs. Design Patent

The difference between a utility patent and a design patent is that:

  • The utility patent is a trademark protection that makes sure a person has full control over his or her invention.
  • A design patent is used when you create a new design for an existing product.

What Is a Utility Patent?

The utility patent is a trademark protection that makes sure a person has full control over his or her invention. More than 90 percent of all patents issued each year are utility patents.

You receive a utility patent when you invent a:

  • New process
  • Machine
  • Manufacturing system.

A utility patent lists an invention's elements and declares how much it covers for the invention. A utility patent is more valuable than a design patent because the utility is the hardest part to create.

Think of the utility patent like a toaster. Many kinds of toasters exist, but they all make toast. George Schneider filed for the first American patent for an electric toaster. He came up with the toaster's function, so he got the utility patent.

The person who holds a utility patent has much power. When Schneider had the toaster patent, he had approval over all other toasters. Any changes to his utility patent's toaster design had to go through him. He decided who made, used, or sold the toaster. That power existed as long as the patent was active. A utility patent guarantees the inventor has control of the product.

The government has granted more than 7.5 million utility patents. Many of them have long since expired, though. If you're lucky enough to get a utility patent, you'll pay $515 to file your claim and $720 for the patent itself.

The American government lists utility patents in five categories:

  • Composition of matter
  • Improvement of an existing idea
  • Machine
  • Manufacture
  • Process.

Many inventions fall into multiple categories. For example, a new iPhone app is both a machine and a process. Even if a product falls under all five categories, the government will grant a utility patent in only one.

(Video) Utility Patent vs. Design Patent: Everything You NEED To Know as an Amazon Brand Manager

Advantages of Utility Patent Application

Utility patent applications tend to be costlier than design patent applications. However, the utility patent will often protect the invention more than the design patent. The utility patent keeps the composition, function, or structure of the invention protected. This patent can also protect a step-by-step method, which covers things such as:

  • Methods of manufacturing chemicals or software
  • A physical device
  • A composition of matter, such as chemical or biological.

There are several other advantages to a utility patent. While they protect the basic functional aspects of the invention, they also provide broader protection for the patent. This makes it harder for a competing product to get away with patent infringement. A utility patent can also protect a variety of versions of the product with just one patent.

Disadvantages of Utility Patent Application

Utility patents are often more difficult and expensive to get than a design patent. You should plan on the Patent Office rejecting your utility patent application initially. Moreover, you should also plan on responding to a minimum of one rejection before your application actually is allowed.

There are some downsides to having a utility patent. Not only is it more expensive, but it also takes a while to get patent protection, to the tune of two to three years. It also doesn't cover any ornamental features of the invention.

What Is a Design Patent?

You receive a design patent when you create a new design for an existing product. Anyone can get a design patent. They're different and easier to get than utility patents because they don't (and can't) have a function.

Design patents are also cheaper than utility patents. A design patent costs only $220 to file, without added expenses. The standard patent fee is $410.

Design patents are important when a product's appearance plays a key factor in its success. Design patents only cover what's in the drawing. Anything shown gains protection once the government grants the patent claim. The only catch is that the design can't be obvious. Design patents require some creativity.

You can apply for a design patent any time you change a product's look or style without changing its utility. If the Walt Disney Company wanted to make a Mickey Mouse toaster, they could get a design patent for this product. They're creating a unique yet repeatable design. They couldn't get a utility patent because their product still toasts bread like any other toaster.

A typeface inventor named George Bruce earned the first design patent in 1842. The government has awarded only 600,000 design patents since then. Historically, people haven't seen as much value in design patents. Now, due to recent law changes, companies have much more control over their products' appearance, increasing the value of design patents.

What's the Disadvantage to a Design Patent?

Because design patents are easy to get, you might think they're better than utility patents. This is false. You'll have a harder time getting a licensing agreement with a design patent than with a utility patent.

For example, with a design patent, you only have the rights to your specific design. The Mickey Mouse toaster's design patent only applies to the Mickey Mouse design. If you have the utility patent for the toaster, you can license it to Sanrio for Hello Kitty, Disney for Mickey Mouse, HBO for "Game of Thrones," and so forth. The utility patent offers more profit potential.

For this reason, you should have a patent attorney research existing patents. Don't invest in product development until you do. If someone already owns the utility patent you want, you'll have to get his or her approval before selling your product.

(Video) Design vs. Utility Patent: What are the Differences? (Everything you need to know...)

Business attorneys in the marketplace will offer good advice about potential pitfalls. They'll also suggest ways to change or improve your proposal. Their advice will help you earn a utility patent instead of a design patent.

What Is an Example of a Design Patent?

An example of a popular design patent is the design of the iPhone, which Apple made to stand out as their own through a phone with rounded corners and a rectangular screen surrounded with a bezel. The key to the overall appearance is the device's proportions and shape.

Samsung and Apple got into an argument about this phone, but it wasn't related to the smartphone's function. They were debating whether the Samsung phone looked similar to the iPhone, not about the graphics interface that allowed remote communication. Getting licensing deals for inventions is more complex with a design patent compared to a utility patent. This is why it's smart to have a patent attorney review and research patents that are similar before you spent money on developing a new product. This is particularly true if your main goal is to license your invention.

Are There Any Other Kinds of Patents?

Five percent of all patent applications (more than 30,000 per year) are design patents. The third kind of patent, the plant patent, also exists. It's much less popular, though. Only 0.1 percent of annual patent applications are plant patents.

A plant patent is only for botanists who can show they've created a new variety of plant. To earn this patent, the applicant must prove the plant is capable of asexual reproduction. Also, its reproductive process must be the same each time, leading to the same plant output.

Yes, a plant patent is oddly specific. That's for good reason, though. People buy plants to decorate homes, yards, and buildings. People who gain plant patents stand to earn ample money.

How Do You Get a Utility Patent or a Design Patent?

Applying for a utility patent requires more work than applying for a design patent. This includes:

  • Proving the invention's unique function.
  • Including claim words, with which the inventor describes what the item does. It's the claim words that matter for the utility patent.

Note that utility and design patents protect the same product. Yes, rules do exist to stop double-patenting. However, because utility and design patents are so different, this is not usually an issue. An inventor could also attempt to gain a copyright and trademark for his or her product.

Some products might need multiple design patents. Each would cover a specific physical feature of the proposed product. Cars, for instance, require many design patents.

Design patents might cost as much as 90 percent less than utility patents. The primary cost with utility patents is in preparing the drawings.

Drawings determine the design patent claim's outcome. Because these designs are specific, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will have fewer questions or issues with the claim. That means lower attorney fees and fewer fees from the USPTO itself. You also don't have to pay maintenance fees on a design patent, which is a huge savings over utility patents.

Which Patent Is Harder to Get?

For a design patent, all you need to prove is that you've made a unique design. Showing that you've added a new element to an existing product is easy.

(Video) Design Patents & Utility Patents - Learn the Differences Between Design and Utility Patents

Earning a utility patent requires more detailed information. Proving you've built something new is difficult, as it should be. You must show that the invention works. You must also prove that it is:

  • Useful
  • Practical
  • Has value to others.

Think about the toaster. Any new toaster is better than earlier generations of toasters. New ones have timers and toasting levels. The toaster's basic function is still the same, though — it toasts.

Anyone can get a new design patent for a toaster. A red, rectangular toaster and a curved, white toaster are each unique models worthy of design patents but not utility patents. To earn a utility patent, you would have to invent a new way of making toast.

While a utility patent is harder to get, it offers better coverage. The utility patent has stronger protections built into the patent system. The patent covers more than just the drawings. A design patent's protection only covers the picture, which becomes the prior art. The coverage is much more limited in scope.

What Are the Patent Rules and Procedures?

To get a utility patent, you must fill out a "provisional" application.

  • The provisional application is a temporary patent request.
  • The paperwork gives you one year to file your official application.
  • Design patents don't have this system. You file when you're ready because there's less risk of competition.

Utility patents' cost is a limiting issue. They're getting more expensive, and fewer applications earn patents. During the 1990s, the government awarded more than 70 percent of applicants with utility patents. Today, only 44 percent get utility patents.

Utility patents and design patents have different term lengths and approval periods.

  • Utility patents last 20 years from the first American application. A patent lasts 17 years from its approval date. Extensions beyond 20 years are possible but rare.
  • Design patents filed before Dec. 15, 2013 last 14 years from their issuing. Any design patent issued after that time has a 15-year claim.
  • The USPTO takes, on average, two years to confirm a design patent.
  • Utility patents generally take more than three years for approval. The USPTO has to check them very carefully. With design patents, the organization runs a prior-art search. As long as nothing shows up, the design has a good chance of earning a patent.

Once you've filed for a design patent, you can list it as patent pending. You can identify it as patented once the USPTO confirms.

The patent number indicates what kind of patent it is. A design patent starts with the letter D, while utility patents have numbers and no letters.

After you've received a design patent, it will remain in force. You don't need to take any additional action. On the other hand, for a utility patent, you must pay three fees to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to maintain it. These payments fall at the four-year, eight-year, and 12-year mark after the utility patent's issue date. If you do not pay these fees, your utility patent will lapse.

When a patent expires, the invention enters the public domain. At this point, the inventor loses all rights and powers. This usually happens at the end of the patent duration. It can also happen if the person filing the claim fails to pay his or her fee.

You can file for both utility and design patent claims in other countries. You'll have six months after the American filing to extend the claim elsewhere. Some countries don't have patent claims, though. Your attorney can guide you through this process.

(Video) Design Patent vs. Utility Patent (which one is better?)

What Happens When Someone Infringes on a Design Patent?

If a regular person, who knows what an item should look like, believes another product is the same as the one with the design patent, that is infringement. The court considers a regular person to be someone who encounters a product for the first time. If they're fooled by a too-similar product, it's infringement.

This regular person test applies to the full design patent even if only minor differences exist between two products. When deciding its verdict, the court doesn't need the regular person to view the products beside each other. The only comparison is how the products look during usage.

There are two tests to prove infringement:

  1. Check the pictures in the design patent. If the new product's features aren't in the prior art, it's usually not infringement. If they are, a second test applies.
  2. This test compares the similarities and differences between the patented product and the new one. If they're too similar, it's infringement.

When claiming infringement, an inventor can also claim rights to any change that's not hard to make. The courts call these additions "equivalents." They protect a patented product beyond the prior art's scope. A 2008 court ruling extended the patent protection, making design patent infringement claims easier to win. Today, the responsibility is on the person charged with stealing a design to prove he or she didn't.

Choosing between a utility patent and a design patent isn't difficult. In most instances, inventors will try to earn a utility patent. It's the most rewarding option if making money is the goal. You'll also have the power to decide your invention's fate, choosing who uses and sells it.

In recent years, design patents have soared in popularity because legal rulings have increased their value. Furthermore, they're cheap and easy to get.

When to File Both a Design Patent Application and a Utility Patent Application

Sometimes an invention can get protection from both a design patent and a utility patent. If the invention has a function or structure that's unique, along with an ornamental design that's unique, you should think about filing both a design patent application and a utility patent application. It can be hard to file both, and you should speak with an attorney first to make sure you follow all the rules and procedures correctly. Both applications will give you a status of patent pending while they're being processed at the Patent Office.

A design patent might not have a huge competitive advantage if customers will be happy with a competitor's product, which has an appearance that is different from yours. Design patents may be helpful for products where the appearance is essential to the customer by helping them make their purchase.

When deciding whether to get a utility patent or a design patent, it's essential to decide what's more important. Do you want to stop potential competitors from imitating your product's visual appearance with design patent protection, or would you rather stop them from copying your functional features with a utility patent protection? If you want to stop competitors from copying both the functional features and visual appearance, you may want to file both a utility patent application and design patent application for your product.

A Brief Warning to Inventors and the Unaware

There are many institutions out there that claim they can help inventors get the patents they need. Sometimes, they'll say they can guarantee your patent being issued. A popular way of doing this is by filing a design patent for each invention that comes their way, which is a disadvantage to inventors. If they pick the incorrect type of application to file, all the valuable and important parts of the invention get donated to the public domain and the inventor loses all his or her ideas. This is only an idea to get money and nothing else.

If you need help with a utility or design patent, you can post your question or concern on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

FAQs

What is one of the major differences between utility patents and design patents? ›

Design patents expire 15 years from the issue date and require no renewal payments. Utility patents generally expire 20 years from the filing date if the three required maintenance fees are timely paid. A utility patent can expire earlier than the 20-year date if a particular maintenance fee is not timely paid.

What are differences among utility patent design patent and plant patent? ›

Utility patents, which generally cover how an invention functions or how an invention is made. Design patents, which cover the ornamental, non-functional features of an invention. Plant patents, which cover certain newly discovered plants.

What are the 3 types of patents issued? ›

The three types of patents are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

What are the three basic requirements for utility patents? ›

The four requirements for a utility patent are:
  • The invention must fall within one of the statutory classes.
  • The invention must be useful.
  • The invention must be novel.
  • The invention must be nonobvious.

Can a patent be both utility and design? ›

Most innovators tend to have an “either/or” mindset due to the distinctions between utility patents and design patents: either the invention is protectable with a utility patent or a design patent, but not both. There is no rule that says you cannot apply for both types of patents for the same invention.

How hard is it to get a utility patent? ›

In turn, utility patents are difficult to obtain. For one, they are hard to write, the process may be time consuming and expensive to undertake, and their complexity may make them difficult to understand. Utility patents are issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and last for up to 20 years.

What are the five types of utility patents? ›

Utility patents are grouped into five categories: a process, a machine, a manufacture, a composition of matter, or an improvement of an existing idea. Often, an invention will fall into more than one of these categories.

How long is a utility patent good for? ›

A U.S. utility patent, explained above, is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent.

Do I need a prototype to patent an idea? ›

Many inventors wonder if they need a prototype prior to patenting an invention. The simple answer is “no'. A prototype is not required prior to filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent Office. While prototypes can be valuable in developing your invention, they can also be costly.

How long do design patents last? ›

As a result, U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 have a 15 year term from the date of grant. However, patents issued from design applications filed before May 13, 2015 have a 14 year term from the date of grant.

Does IKEA have a patent? ›

IKEA has a total of 1984 patents globally. These patents belong to 960 unique patent families. Out of 1984 patents, 1232 patents are active.

What qualifies for a design patent? ›

To qualify for a design patent, the subject must be new in the sense that no single, identical design exists in the prior art, it must satisfy the ornamental standards, and it must be original to the inventor or inventors seeking protection.

How much does it cost to file a utility patent? ›

Since utility patents are the most valuable, the costs to patent them at the USPTO can range anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000. The more complex the invention, the higher the cost.

What is an example of a design patent? ›

Some examples of design patents include ornamental designs on jewelry, automobiles or furniture, as well as packaging, fonts and computer icons (such as emojis). Some famous design patent objects include the original curvy Coca-Cola bottle (1915) and the Statue of Liberty (1879).

Are utility patents worth it? ›

Utility patents are worth it if you have an invention or product that you know you can either sell successfully or profit from by licensing the invention to third parties who will pay you an agreed-upon fee in exchange for being able to use your patented invention.

Can you patent a knife design? ›

Most fixed blade knives and most folding knives and their designs are not patentable. Something that would be patentable would be a folding knife locking or operating mechanism that is not already in the public domain.

What is an example of a utility patent? ›

Examples of inventions protected by utility patents include computer software, investment strategy, medical equipment, tools, chemical compositions, genetically altered life forms, and improvements.

How long does it take to get a utility patent approved? ›

The average patent approval process takes 25.6 months. A utility patent is the term used to describe what most people think of simply as a patent and is the most common type of patent. Utility patents protect a variety of inventions from duplication by others for 20 years from the application submission.

Why are utility patents so expensive? ›

Why is a utility patent application so expensive? In most cases, utility applications are substantially more expensive than design patent applications since a greater amount of work is required to draft a utility application.

How long does it take for a utility patent to be granted? ›

Utility and reissue patents are issued within about four weeks after the issue fee and any required publication fee are received in the Office. A patent number and issue date will be assigned to an application and an Issue Notification will be mailed after the issue fee has been paid and processed by the USPTO.

What is a poor man's patent? ›

A poor man's patent is essentially writing out a description of your invention and then mailing that written description to yourself. This postmarked envelope supposedly acts to create the date of your invention as the date this written description was postmarked.

What can and Cannot be patented? ›

There are certain types of invention that can't be patented. These include: literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works.
...
To obtain a patent, your invention must be:
  • something that can be made or used (capable of industrial application)
  • new.
  • inventive – not just a modification to something that already exists.
17 Dec 2018

How long does it take to get a design patent? ›

Total length of design patent applications, known as total pendency, has been approximately 20 months on average. Basically, expect that a design patent will be granted in about 20 months from the filing date if approved.

What are the 4 types of intellectual property? ›

Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets are valuable assets of the company and understanding how they work and how they are created is critical to knowing how to protect them.

What is the difference between a utility patent and a provisional patent? ›

The main difference between the two is that a provisional patent is a placeholder in time that gives an inventor some time to file a utility patent. Whereas a non-provisional utility patent is a full-fledged complete patent application that turns into a patent.

How can you make money with a patent? ›

Here are six ways to make money from your patents.
  1. Start a business: Product conversion. ...
  2. License your patent. ...
  3. Use a patent licensing company. ...
  4. Use it as collateral for a bank loan. ...
  5. Sell off your patent rights. ...
  6. Sell to a business that's expanding to your country.

What does a utility patent cover? ›

A utility patent protects an inventor's intellectual property. It is the most common type of patent issued. It protects the way an invention works. Anyone who creates an entirely new machine, process, chemical compound, manufactured product, material composition, or method can apply for a utility patent.

Can a utility patent be renewed? ›

Can patents be renewed? U.S. patents issue for fixed terms and generally cannot be renewed. A U.S. utility patent has a term of 20 years from its earliest effective, non-provisional U.S. filing date.

What happens when a design patent expires? ›

When a design patent expires, the patent holder loses patent protection over his invention and the invention falls into the public domain. Once a design is in the public domain, people can often freely copy the design without having to obtain the express consent of the patent holder.

Can I protect my idea without a patent? ›

If you determine that the invention is probably not patentable, the most effective way to protect yourself is to have prospective licensees sign a nondisclosure agreement before you reveal your invention. This document is sometimes called an "NDA" or a "confidentiality agreement," but the terms are similar.

What is the average cost of a patent? ›

A patent attorney will usually charge between $8,000 and $10,000 for a patent application, but the cost can be higher. In most cases, you should budget between $15,000 and $20,000 to complete the patenting process for your invention.

How do I file a patent without a prototype? ›

You are not required to have a prototype when you submit your application as per U.S. patent laws. All you need to do is to properly describe the invention in order for others to be able to use and make it. Although you need some sort of tangible or visible form of a concept, you can start by trying your idea on paper.

Do design patents get published? ›

Difference #8: Generally, U.S. design patent applications are not published. U.S. design patent applications are not published if the application is filed directly with the USPTO.

How can I patent a design for free? ›

There are two ways you can actually patent an invention for free, sort of. If you cannot afford an agent or attorney, look to the Patent Pro Bono Program or the Law School Clinic Certification Program, both provided by the USPTO. The Patent Pro Bono Program pairs registered patent agents or attorneys with inventors.

Do I need a design patent? ›

If you make a product with a unique look, a design patent may be worth considering. In addition to being ornamental, your design must be novel and not obvious to those in your field, meaning it must be truly innovative and not a logical extension of a pre-existing design.

Why is IKEA successful in Malaysia? ›

Malaysia's ethnic diversity and well educated workforce has enabled IKEA to find the suitable manpower to meet the company's human resource requirements.

How do I start a design patent? ›

How to Patent a Design
  1. Decide whether to hire a design patent attorney. ...
  2. Complete a patent search. ...
  3. File a design patent application with the USPTO. ...
  4. Work closely with your patent examiner. ...
  5. Amend or appeal your application if necessary.

How do I file a design patent myself? ›

Steps to Filing a Patent Application
  1. Keep a Written Record of Your Invention. Record every step of the invention process in a notebook. ...
  2. Make Sure Your Invention Qualifies for Patent Protection. ...
  3. Assess the Commercial Potential of Your Invention. ...
  4. Conduct a Thorough Patent Search. ...
  5. Prepare and File an Application With the USPTO.

Do design patents have an abstract? ›

Patent Application - The patent application generally contains the following elements: Abstract or "Preamble." This is a general introduction to the design that is being patented. Title. This is the name assigned to the design by the creator.

What is the cheapest way to get a patent? ›

Cheapest way to get a patent
  1. Do-It-Yourself (Draft it and File it Yourself) ...
  2. Cost of Filing It Yourself. ...
  3. Still To Expensive? ...
  4. Cost of Filing It Yourself. ...
  5. Fiverr & Other Low Cost Options. ...
  6. If Budgets Allow - The Better Option Is to Use an Attorney. ...
  7. The Cost of An Attorney.

What is required for a utility patent? ›

To meet utility patent requirements, inventions must be novel, not obvious, statutory, and useful. They must also meet the United States Patent and Trademark Office's written description, enablement, and best mode requirements.

Does a poor man's patent hold up in court? ›

Even under the old system, i.e., the “first to invent” system, a “poor man's patent” standing alone, i.e, without a patent application, was worthless. You cannot access the court system and ask a judge or a jury to enforce a right that the U.S. Government does not even recognize as a right.

Is iPhone design patent? ›

Apple has been Granted 16 Design Patents covering the iPhone Wallet with MagSafe, iPhone Home Screen GUIs, Widgets+ On Friday Apple was granted 16 design patents in Hong Kong covering the iPhone Wallet with MagSafe and a series of iPhone Home Screen Graphical User Interfaces for widgets, edit pages and more.

How do I protect my design patent? ›

You can fully protect your copyright once you have registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Patents provide the best protection and U.S. patents, last up to 20 years. There are three different types of patents, and you can file for one through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Does Coca Cola have patent? ›

Coca-Cola's patent application number 29/436,363, simply titled “Bottle,” was granted after overcoming three Office Actions over the course of four-and-a-half years. This patent was granted on September 5, 2017.

What is the difference between patent and design? ›

A patent protects ideas and concepts, whereas a registered design protects the appearance of a product or item. It is interesting to note that you can register both patents and designs for the same item. Therefore, patents and designs may offer protection for different features of the same product.

What are the differences between patents? ›

What is the Difference Between a Patent and a Trademark. Patents prevent others from making or selling an invention, but trademarks protect the words, phrases, symbols, logos, or other devices used to identify the source of goods or services from usage by other competitors.

What is the difference between a utility patent and a provisional patent? ›

The main difference between the two is that a provisional patent is a placeholder in time that gives an inventor some time to file a utility patent. Whereas a non-provisional utility patent is a full-fledged complete patent application that turns into a patent.

Which of the following statements is a similarity between a utility patent and a design patent? ›

Which of the following statements is a similarity between a utility patent and a design patent? Both provide the inventor with a negative right.

Are utility patents worth it? ›

Utility patents are worth it if you have an invention or product that you know you can either sell successfully or profit from by licensing the invention to third parties who will pay you an agreed-upon fee in exchange for being able to use your patented invention.

Do I need a design patent? ›

If you make a product with a unique look, a design patent may be worth considering. In addition to being ornamental, your design must be novel and not obvious to those in your field, meaning it must be truly innovative and not a logical extension of a pre-existing design.

What is a design patent used for? ›

A design patent may be granted if the product has a distinct configuration, distinct surface ornamentation or both. In other words, a design patent provides protection for the ornamental design of something that has a practical utility.

How many years does a patent last? ›

A U.S. utility patent, explained above, is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent.

How do I copyright a logo and name? ›

All you need to do is register your ownership of your copyright with the Office for United States Copyrighting. You can do this either by sending a document in through the mail or submitting an application online. Typically, and at the time of publication, it costs between $35 and $85 to officially copyright a logo.

Do I need a copyright or trademark? ›

Copyrights primarily protect the rights of people who create literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works (like history tests, and software code). Trademarks protect the use of a company's name and its product names, brand identity (like logos) and slogans.

How much does it cost to file a utility patent? ›

Since utility patents are the most valuable, the costs to patent them at the USPTO can range anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000. The more complex the invention, the higher the cost.

Is a provisional patent worth it? ›

Provisional applications are a useful tool, but only when they are done right. When provisional patent applications are done poorly you not only obtain no benefit, the filing potentially demonstrates you were not in possession of an invention, which could be catastrophically bad.

How do I file a utility patent myself? ›

Steps to Filing a Patent Application
  1. Keep a Written Record of Your Invention. Record every step of the invention process in a notebook. ...
  2. Make Sure Your Invention Qualifies for Patent Protection. ...
  3. Assess the Commercial Potential of Your Invention. ...
  4. Conduct a Thorough Patent Search. ...
  5. Prepare and File an Application With the USPTO.

Can a design patent claim priority to a utility? ›

Yes, a design patent application may claim priority to a pending utility nonprovisional patent application, but not to a provisional patent application under 35 USC § 172. The drawings in the earlier filed nonprovisional application must adequately support the drawings to be filed in the design application.

What qualifies for a design patent? ›

To qualify for a design patent, the subject must be new in the sense that no single, identical design exists in the prior art, it must satisfy the ornamental standards, and it must be original to the inventor or inventors seeking protection.

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