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Design patents vs. utility patents

A design patent protects an item's unique ornamental design—how it looks. A utility patent protects how an item is used and works. Design patents are generally less complicated than utility patents and can be easier and cheaper to get. If your invention has a unique design and unique functionality, you may be able to file both a design and a utility patent application.

What qualifies for a design patent?

For your design to qualify for a design patent, these two things must generally be true:

  • The design is a part of the item and can't be separated from the item. For example, a label design on a wine bottle wouldn't qualify for a design patent, but a unique design of the bottle itself might qualify.
  • The design is purely ornamental and does not affect the item's function.



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