Design & Utility Patents
Patent lawyers obtain two different kinds of patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: utility patents and design patents. Utility patents and design patents differ in various important ways. Utility patents are what most people think of as patents. They protect an invention: “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” 35 U.S.C. § 101. By contrast, design patents cover “any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” 35 U.S.C. § 171. That is, a design patent covers how something looks. You can tell the difference between the two types by their numbering system. Design patent numbers start with a “D,” while utility patent numbers do not. Unlike utility patents, which have multiple “claims” that define the patent’s scope, each design patent has a single claim, which claims the design shown in solid lines of the accompanying drawing. Design patents are often used in conjunction with other types of intellectual property, such as trade dress and copyright, to protect goods. Design patents are an important part of making sure that a product stays distinct in the marketplace.
The patent lawyers at Glancy Prongay & Murray can litigate both design and utility patents. Please contact Jonathan Rotter for more information.