I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.
Utility patent or design patent? Which one is right for you?
When most people think about patents, they’re likely thinking about utility patents. A utility patent protects how an invention is used and works. It must fit into one of these five groups:
- a process
- a machine
- a manufacture
- a composition of matter
- an improvement of an existing idea
It will have at least one claim and at least one drawing.
A design patent protects an invention’s appearance. It will have one claim and at least one drawing.
Utility patents are more expensive to get because they have more fees associated with them. For instance, once a utility patent is issued, one must pay maintenance fees 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years after patent issuance. There are no maintenance fees for design patents.
Also, utility patents typically take more time to get. 2-3 years after application filing is standard for a utility patent. 1-2 years post filing for a design patent.
Utility patents are valid 20 years after application filing. Design patents are good 14 years after patent issuance.
Whether you want a utility patent or design patent really depends on what you want to protect. For example, if you develop a new way to toast bread that is different from current methods, a utility patent is likely what you’re looking for. If you only want to protect how this bread-toasting invention looks, a design patent is suitable. If you want to protect the way the invention toasts bread and its appearance, it may make sense to file for both a utility patent and design patent.