A design patent is a type of industrial design right. In legal terms, an industrial design protects the ornamentation and shape of an article (e.g. appearance, physical shape and decoration). In some jurisdictions, such as the UK, an industrial design needs to be registered as a "registered design" in order to be protected. However, in other countries, such as the US, designs will be protected under patent law as "design patents". Like all patents, a design patent must still fulfill the basic criteria for patentability including novelty and non-obviousness.
What is the difference in the protection afforded to design and utility patents?
Design patents do not protect the functionality of an article, but only the ornamental design of what is pictured. Utility patents, on the other hand, will protect how something works. Generally, this means a design patent will offer a weaker form of protection but they are easier to obtain and at a relatively low cost so it may be worth reviewing your portfolio. It is also possible for the subject matter of a design patent to attract trademark or copyright protection.
Design patents on PatSnap
PatSnap currently has over 11,000,000 design patents from various jurisdictions. We also have the Image Search option that allows you to search for design patents using images. The current version of this contains design patents from 25 jurisdictions.
You can find out more about the Image Search here: