Design vs Utility Patent

I’m often asked the question, what is the difference between a design patent and a utility patent, and what do they cover? Because they are two distinct patents, and they cover two distinct areas. A design patent covers the ornamental beauty of something. And maybe we should discuss this best understood with an example.

What a design patent doesn’t cover is the functioning of an item. But as we said, the ornamental beauty. I have a car. A car fender, surprisingly, does not qualify for a design patent because it’s considered functional. You have to have a fender, it covers the wheel, it has to be a certain distance. Those are all fixed parameters that are known.

In contrast, the taillights on a car, because it can become of totally different designs. Yes, certainly is a functional aspect to it. We’re not going to argue that. The desirability of the taillight is how cool it looks on you.