Main differences between a utility patent and design patent

After receiving a lot of emails asking for more information on design and utility patents, I decided to write a short article which I hope answers some of your questions.

The United States Patent Office offers two main types of patents: utility patents and design patents. If you’re considering patenting your intellectual property, invention, or idea, it’s important to understand the difference between a utility patent and design patent. A utility patent is used to protect the function or goal of an invention, while a design patent is focused more on the method of achieving that goal than the goal, itself.

Utility patents

These are the most common types of patents and, while they’re more expensive than design patents, many people believe they offer better invention protection. Utility patents can provide protection for the function of an invention, as well as similar other variations, such that other competitors who are considering similar products will have a difficult time creating a similar product or invention without infringing on the patent.

Unfortunately, as well as being more expensive, these patents also take longer to procure than design patents. While the patent is in the process of being filed, which is generally a couple of years, a provisional patent can be issued for temporary protection, allowing you to use “Patent pending” when discussing your invention, which offers a very basic, fundamental level of deterrence for competitors.

Design patents

Design patents cover the appearance of a product or the specific design, rather than the function, goal, or utility of an invention. These patents are cheaper and quicker to procure than utility patents, but they do not cover any functional aspects of the invention. It’s also more difficult to patent variations on design than it is to patent variations on function.

Filing for both types at once

It’s possible to have a situation where you’ll want to file one of each type of patent. These situations might be for new inventions that achieve a novel goal by novel means and have a unique design. One relatively famous example where patents of each type were filed for the same invention was for the iPad.

Contact us for more assistance or a consultation on patenting your design or invention.

Do you know the difference between a utility patent and design patent?

One of the common questions asked by those looking to patent an idea or invention is: What is the difference between a utility patent and design patent? It is a good question and the answer is an important one to understand for all patent or would be patent holders.

First, it’s helpful to know the definitions of both types of patents. A utility patent is defined as an invention that is useful or that has beneficial or practical utility. In other words, it must have a use or function in the real world. Some examples of this might be machines or tools, whether they are mechanical, hand-operated or electrical. This also includes functional improvements on machines or processes.

So what is a design patent? A design patent is anything that improves the style or fashion of an already existing invention. That is to say anything that doesn’t change or improve the function of an object, but does change the look or style. Some examples of this might be a design that simply changes the shape of an existing object. This also includes non-obvious ornamental designs.

How do you tell the difference when considering which patent is right for you? The following are a set of good questions to ask yourself.

  • Are you trying to patent the way something looks, or the way something is used?
  • Does your invention already exist in the marketplace in some form? If so, is your improvement one of usability?
  • If your improvement is not one of usability, does it improve the design and look of the invention?

Remember, some inventions may qualify for both types of patents. You can always contact us for more information. We can put you in touch with an attorney and help to get you started on the right path. We work closely with some of the best IP law firms in the United States and internationally.

Finally, a good short hand way of remembering the difference between the two types of patents is to think of eye glasses. If you had invented bifocal lenses, your invention would require a utility patent, since these lenses change the way eyeglasses function. However, if you had invented the Coke-bottle style of eyeglass frames, that would require a design patent, as they change the way glasses look but do not affect their usability.

Five Reasons Why To Patent Your Invention

Inventors are commonly encouraged to patent their inventions, but the patent process can take time and resources to execute properly.  Some inventors decide that the cost is not worth the effort, and forgo the process, without realizing the significant benefits that patenting their invention can provide.

 

According to the USPTO, The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, ‘the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling’ the invention in the United States or ‘importing’ the invention into the United States.

 

Here are five reasons why it is important to patent your intellectual property:

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  1. To Protect Against Intellectual Property Theft – One of the main reasons to patent your invention is that it is very difficult to convert an idea to market without interacting with parties outside of your company.  You’ll have to share concepts with investors and manufacturing partners in order to commercialize your concepts.  By filing for a provisional patent on your design, you gain legal protection against the unauthorized use of your concept.
  2. To Protect Your Company’s Ability to do Business – To put it simply, if you don’t patent it, someone else will, eventually.  You could not only have competition in your market, but you could also lose the rights to compete at all.  If this happens, then all of the investment that you put into your business could be for naught and you could become entangled in costly legal battles.
  3. To Increase Market Position – By developing a patent portfolio for your company’s intellectual property, you will increase your market position by limiting the ability of other companies to compete in your specific niche.  This increased market position and reduced competition can result in an increase in return on investment (ROI) for your company.
  4. To Guarantee Your Ability to Charge Licensing Fees– You may never get to the point where you fully commercialize your concept, but there may be others that have the resources to make your ideas come to life.  This is where licensing can be a great benefit.  By patenting your design, you can license the patent to a partner company, who then invests in the commercialization.  Your company then earns licensing fees for the use of the technology.  Without patents, it would be legally difficult to transfer technology to a development partner.
  5. Patents Look Good on Paper – A patent portfolio is tangible evidence of the technical expertise and commitment to development that you have instilled in your company.  Investors and partners will perceive an increased level of expertise, quality, and innovation in your company, which could lead to increased investment.  Investors and partners will feel a sense of security knowing that you have protected your IP, which will in turn protect their investment.

 

Patenting a product design can take time and resources to complete, but the benefits that patent protection can provide to your company can far outweigh the investment required.

Why NOT to use Invent Help Companies like Davidson to Patent Your Invention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although their advertisements promise to make it simple to submit an idea, there are a lot of things that companies like Davidson, Invent Help, and other lesser known invention patent “simplifying specialists” do not tell you.  Before diving in and expecting to make millions, consider these important facts:

 

  • For starters, it is virtually impossible to sell or submit an idea to any major company without first filing a patent. Most invent help companies do not protect your idea or invention by filing a patent for you. To protect your invention from the get-go, it is best to try to obtain a patent from the USPTO on your own.  For help with filing a first-time patent, seek the advice of a patent attorney. Be on the lookout: Companies that advertise the ability to file your patent for only $99 are definitely SCAMS and should be avoided altogether.

 

  • Second, most companies will not do a patent search to make sure your invention does not already exist. Invent help companies are in the business to make money, so they don’t necessarily mind taking yours. It is important to pay out of your own pocket for a patent search before deciding to move forward with any invention.  Submitting an idea, only to find out someone has a patent on something very similar, results in lost money and wasted effort.

 

  • Next, the fees for providing inventor services, professional patent illustrations, attorney fees, publicity and submissions to the industry are all additional.  These fees will not be absorbed by any invent help company, and you may actually be charged more than you would by seeking these services on your own. One way or another you will still have to pay for all professional services related to your invention, so why not have control over what you pay to whom?

 

  • Finally, know the statistics.  Invent help services cannot and should never claim to guarantee the success of any product idea. Inventor Spot Forum recently posted these statistics published by one major invent help company:

 “From 2003 to 2005, we signed submission agreements with 6,592 clients. As a result of our services, 119 clients have received license agreements for their products, and 15 clients have received more money than they paid us for these services.”

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Obviously this confirms that a person’s success rate is not guaranteed.

 

Everyone knows that all good things take time, hard work, and dedication.  You are the inventor, so be serious about taking the right steps toward protecting your invention before seeking promotional help from any one of the ideas-made-simple “invent help” companies. If you need professional help illustrating your idea, be sure to contact Inventia Patent Drafting right away!

Design or Utility?

There are two main types of patents granted by the U.S. Patent Office: design patents and utility patents.

Utility patents offer greater benefits than design patents.  Utility patents  protect the way an article is used and works.  Utility patents also allow many variations of the article to be claimed in one patent, making utility patents much more broad than design patents.  Utility patents can also be filed provisionally whereas design drawings cannot.

Design patents protect the appearance of the article.  Design patents are usually much cheaper than utility patents and are much easier to obtain.   If the main feature of you invention is the ornamental design, then a design patent is all you need to protect your invention.

We suggest you seek advice from a patent attorney to figure out which type of protection is best for your patent.