Difference Between Utility and Design Patent (With Table)

When you own something different or create a unique thing, the first important thing is to protect it from being copied or stolen. And patent serves just the purposes. It is issued by the government to protect the rights of the inventor and gives him permission for further invention. Patents are not forever. They are time-limited. After the expiry of a patent, anyone can use the subject. But several things are invented or require patents. Therefore to protect all of them, there are types of patents doing the job. Among them, the first two types are utility and design patent. Both of them are patents; therefore, it becomes important to know about them.

Utility vs Design Patent

The main difference between utility and design patent is in it the person who seeks, and for the purpose, it is required. Generally, investors or investors use utility patents for the protection of the invention or working of a particular subject. It costs higher in terms of attorneys fees and has less probability of office action rejection, whereas design patent, as the name suggests, is mostly used by the designer to secure or protect their unique designs or outlook of a particular product, the attorney‘s fees are less in this patent.

A person who invests something unique or discovers a subject to work in a different manner seeks the utility patent to protect the discovery or invention. It is used for something that works. It expires after 20 years from the filing date and cannot be renewed after that. It protects the function or utility. They don’t have anything to do with how their protected subject looks.

Design patent is used by designers for protecting their unique and distinctive design so that no one can use them; if still they are used by a third party the designer can sue them in court for copying as they have patent over them. They protect the physical appearance of the design of the subject only they don’t have anything to do with the working of the subject.

Comparison Table Between Utility and Design Patent

Parameters of Comparison

Utility Patent

Design Patent

Who seeks it


Investors and designers


Function or utility  

Ornamental design  

Protection time

20 years

14 years

Invention work protection

It protects it.

It does not protect it.




What is Utility Patent?

It protects the functional processor element of the subject; this is the only purpose it is used for. The invention must be useful, novel, and non-obvious if you have to obtain a utility patent. All these terms have a specific role and meaning in patent, and in the absence of any of these, the application for acquiring the utility patent will be immediately declined.

  • Novel: this means that your invention must be unique and not copied or even that should already exist. Before the invention of the subject, the information or the usage of the subject should not be done by anyone before the creation. But there is an exception if certain changes or improvements have been made to an existing invention.
  • Non-obvious: this means that even after clearing the novel aspect, the application would also be rejected if the changes or invention is too obvious for an individual with similar ability in the craftsmanship to which the inventors subject relates. Therefore it again can be rejected.
  • Useful: the invention must be useful in any aspect. You will not pass the application process if the invention is useless or has no meaning of full use to society.

Therefore, after clearing all the above aspects, the application can be passed, and you will get your utility patent.

What is Design Patent?

It is granted for a new and unique design so that any other designer cannot copy the original design. It gives legal protection for securing the designs. It can be used for the distinct configuration or surface orientation, or both. It can only be used for a design that has some practical utility.

Filing patent costs a lot less than filing a utility patent; also, there is a high probability of getting rejected or delayed. It does not cover the quality or working of the subject, only the appearance, not the functional feature. Therefore, two subjects can be made up of the same material still the owner of a patent does not sure about the other party.

They can be obtained quicker if all the requirements are fulfilled and last for 14 years without maintenance or renewable fees. You can apply for a patent of the whole product or a part of the product that you want to protect or secure.

For example, some brands of handbags, clothing, phones, accessories have design patents for protecting their logo and designs.

Main Differences Between Utility and Design Patent

  1. Both of the patents are used and seek by different parties. While utility patent is used by the investors who invest in something that works or for experiments, whereas design patent is used by both investor and designer, but mostly it is used by designers to protect their unique and different design.
  2. Patents are used for protection purposes, and the types are divided on the basis of what they protect. A utility patent is used for the protection of the function or utility of a subject, while a design patent is used to protect ornamental protection.
  3. Both of them expire after a certain period. A utility patent protects the utility for a longer period or has more years of protection. It gives protection for 20 years, while a design patent expires after 14 years that is comparatively less.
  4. Design patent is used for the protection of design only or how the work looks, while utility patent is also used for the protection of the invention or how the subject works.
  5. Both of them also differ in terms of initial filing attorney’s fees and attorneys fees for ongoing prosecution. Utility patent’s fees are generally higher than the designer patent’s fees that are more affordable.
  6. Design patent is higher in the probability of getting office action rejection, whereas it is lower in the case of a utility patent.


Now you can easily differentiate between utility and design patent. Both of them protect different types of subjects, and therefore, it is important to know the types so that you can choose the best suitable patent for you unless it cannot protect the subject properly and anyone can find the loophole to use that.

Apart from these, there is one more type of patent, as the same implies it saves the unique and different plants that can reproduce. It protects them from getting sold or copied. It cannot be used for regular plants, but only to the unique, that has been newly discovered on a cultivated area. For example, this patent is not applied to rose or tulsi plants.


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