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Q&A with NSP: Should I file a utility or design patent application?

Updated: Mar 18

When people think about patents, they are usually thinking about utility patents. Many do not know about design patents. A utility patent protects the functionality of an invention, while a design patent protects the ornamental features of an invention. The majority of granted patents are utility patents. However, design patents are growing in popularity and importance. There are several reasons for this. First, design patents are less expensive to prepare and file. Second, the time from filing to grant are shorter for design patent applications. Third, design patents have no maintenance fees after grant.

Depending on the nature of your invention, a design patent may be just as valuable, if not more so, than a utility patent. For example, since design patents protect the ornamental features of your invention, the protected features are typically easy to see. Thus, it may be much easier to know if someone is infringing your design patent.

The best strategy is to consider both utility and design patent protection. Some inventions have both novel functionality and ornamental features. The two types of patents can work together to cover what's unique about your invention.

"Q&A with NSP" are blog posts that answer commonly asked questions about patents or trademarks. The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice for your specific case, please contact us to schedule a consultation.