There are two types of patents issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) – utility and design.

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.

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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