Design patents are limited to the semblance set forth in the drawings submitted with the design patent application at time of filing.
Design patents are therefore much more limited in scope than utility patents, which typically protect across multiple embodiments.
Design patents are appropriate to protect an invention that has a particular appearance. By definition, a design can not have utility – that is, the design must be simply ornamental and not contribute to the functionality of the object.
However, the line between “utility” and “ornamentality” is not entirely distinct. Some product designs, while distinctive as an ornamental concern, will yet contribute to the functionality of the product. Thus designs can, within limited application at least, protect some utility of the product depending on the product and design in question.
Learn more about design patents here.
Design patents protect the way an object looks. A design resides in the ornamentality of an object – its aesthetic form, and not the object itself.
Download our overview of the patenting process here.