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June 1, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

What is the difference between a utility patent and a design patent?

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Hi, I'm John Rizvi, the patent professor. Today I'm going to talk about the two main types of patents. utility patents are intended to cover the possible use or function of an idea. Design patents cover only the physical appearance of a new product. A patent can be awarded for the intended use of a product or for its design. However, a design patent is not the same as a utility patent. A utility patent states various ways in which the idea could be used. Because the design patent only protects an item's appearance. It does not offer utility protection. A design patent is valid for 14 years, whereas a utility patent is good for 20. I like a utility patent which requires multiple claims to support the intended use. A design patent only requires one claim, which describes how the design will look. Think about the iPhone, Apple and Samsung had been in court for years over a patent infringement action filed by Apple. Apple argued that Samsung borrowed heavily from the iPhones proprietary design to create some of its products, costing Apple a significant amount of money. Apple could not sue Samsung for creating a cell phone because the same basic technology is in place. No could Apple accuse Samsung of appropriating the iOS operating system since Samsung uses Android. However, it could go after Samsung and court for the basic design of its phones, which Apple claimed infringed upon its patent. A design patent should only be filed if the look of the finished product is distinctive or important enough to stand alone. If the idea can be packaged or presented differently without affecting or limiting the scope of potential use. A utility patent is the way to go. I've guided a lot of inventors through the patent process. I'm John Rizvi, the patent professor, and I can tell you whether a design patent or a utility patent or both are the right way to proceed.

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At the law offices of John Rizvi, P.A. - The Idea Attorneys®, we have dedicated our practice exclusively to securing and preserving the intellectual property rights of our clients, including patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, unfair competition, and franchising matters.
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