Open/Close Menu We Help Businesses Protect Their Intellectual Property

Which Type of Patent is Right for You?

Design Patent or Utility Patent?

 In today’s episode, we explore the differences between design patents and utility patents, their unique benefits and limitations, and how they can be leveraged effectively to protect your intellectual property.

Understanding Design Patents and Utility Patents:

Design patents safeguard the visual appearance or aesthetics of a product, focusing on the unique design elements rather than the functional aspects. On the other hand, utility patents protect new functional features or processes. To illustrate the distinction, consider the example of a car hood. The design patent would cover the unique look of the hood, while the utility patent would focus on any new features or mechanisms that improve its functionality.

Why Choosing the Right Patent Matters:

Filing for the correct type of patent is crucial as it determines the scope of protection you gain for your invention. Filing the wrong type of patent can result in limited coverage and missed opportunities for commercial success. Therefore, it’s essential to work with a skilled patent attorney who can guide you in selecting the appropriate patent type best suited to your invention’s unique characteristics.

Benefits and Considerations for Design Patents:

Design patents offer certain advantages over utility patents. They tend to have simpler technical requirements, are processed faster in the patent office, and typically cost less to obtain. Additionally, design patents can be useful in industries where the visual appearance holds significant value, such as fashion, furniture, and consumer electronics. However, it’s important to note that design patents only protect the aesthetic elements and require the design to be embodied in a physical product.

Benefits and Considerations for Utility Patents:

Utility patents, while more complex and time-consuming to obtain, provide broader protection for functional features and processes. They are applicable when your invention’s novelty lies primarily in its functionality rather than its appearance. Utility patents can offer stronger coverage and are suitable for innovations. It’s crucial to ensure your invention meets the criteria of novelty, usefulness, and non-obviousness to qualify for a utility patent.

Combining Design and Utility Patents:

In some cases, it may be advantageous to obtain both a design patent and a utility patent for the same product. This strategy allows you to protect both the unique design elements and the functional aspects, providing a comprehensive shield against potential infringement. However, it’s crucial to clearly differentiate between the design and functional aspects in your patent application to avoid confusion and ensure proper coverage.


Understanding the differences and benefits of design and utility patents is crucial when seeking intellectual property protection. With the guidance of a skilled patent attorney, you can make informed decisions about which type of patent aligns best with your invention and business goals. Intellectual property, as Mark Getty once said, is the oil of the 21st century. So, leverage your inspiration and protect your innovations through strategic patenting.

Tune in to the Leveraging Inspiration podcast to learn more about intellectual property strategies and gain valuable insights from industry experts like Wayne Carroll. Don’t forget to subscribe and stay inspired on your patent journey.