TYPES OF PATENTS
There are two types of patents issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) - utility and design.
A utility patent protects the function of an invention. Utility patents are granted for any: new, useful and non-obvious process, machine, manufactured article, composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements to any of these types of inventions. The term of a utility patent is 20 years from the date of filing. Utility patents are usually more desirable than design patents because of the broader protection generally available to them.
A design patent protects the overall appearance of an invention and is granted for any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. The term of a design patent is 14 years from the date of issuance. A design patent should only be chosen if the appearance of the invention is important, otherwise utility patent protection should be sought. If a patent attorney recommends filing for a design patent for your invention which is more functional than ornamental, you should contact another patent attorney for a second opinion.
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