Utility Patent Vs Design Patent – Important Differences

In this article, we will discuss some key points regarding utility patent vs design patent. Patents are legal rights that protect new and non-obvious inventions and their procedures. Moreover, patents are classified into three major types, namely utility, design, and plant patents. Each patent has its individual eligibility requirements and secures specific types of the invention depending upon their characteristics.

The basic difference in utility patent vs design patent is, utility patents cover processes, compositions of matter, manufacture, and machines that are innovative and industrially useful. On the other hand, design patents include the shapes or configurations of an object.

Also Read: How To conduct Patent Search: A Quick Guide

Utility Patent vs Design Patent – Differences

A utility patent protects the functionality of the invention, whereas a design patent protects the appearance of the Invention. Some of the differences are explained below in detail.

  • Scope of protection:

The scope of a design patent is limited to only the ornamental appearance of an invention, whereas the scope of utility patent lies around the function or structure of an invention. Also, a utility patent can protect many different variations of a product using a single utility patent, whereas design patent can only claim for a single clause i.e. appearance.

  • The cost incurred:

Since utility patents cover a broader scope of protection, the cost incurred in utility patents is much higher than design patents. Even for hiring attorneys and professionals for consultation, utility patent applications cost way too far than design patents. Moreover, Utility patent requires maintenance fees, you must pay it at the 4th, 8th and 12th year after the paid was issued. While, there is no clause for any such fees to be paid, for design patents after once it gets issued.

  • Patent term:

A utility patent lasts 20 years from the earliest filing date, whereas a design patent lasts 14 years.

  • Average processing time: 

The average pending time for a utility patent is 25.6 months, while it is 1-3 years for a design patent.

  • Rejection probability:

Utility-based patents work on a broader scope due to which its probability of initial rejection is approximately 80-90%. On the other hand, design-based patents cover only the claims for appearance, its rejection probability lies very close to negligibility.

  • Application process time:

Utility patents cover broader aspects and hold a higher rate of rejection and therefore, they possess a longer application process in comparison with the design patent application.

  • Infringement determination:

You compare two designs visually in order to check the infringement in the design patents. However, utility patents contain a number of claims and you look for similar claims to catch Infringement among utility patents.

Also Read: A Complete Guide to Patent Novelty Search


Table showing Utility Patent vs Design Patent




Design Patent


Utility Patent


Scope of Protection






Cost incurred


Low filing fees

No maintenance fees


High filing and maintenance fees


Patent term


14 years from the filing date


20 years from the filing date


Average processing time


12-36 months


25.6 months


Rejection probability


Very low




Application length






Infringement determination via






Important points for Utility Patent vs Design Patent

USPTO has provided different guidelines for design as well as utility patent. You must follow different formalities while dealing with different patents.

Also, you only require a single claim in a design patent but you require multiple claims when filing utility patent.

Moreover, you can use a single detailed drawing with the utility patent but you require every standard view with the design patent.


Also Read: Introduction to Freedom to Operate Search


Categorizing patents does not mean that their filing will differ. Regardless of its type, patent protection is obtained by filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), by any choosing any provisional or non-provisional patent application mode.

How The Patent Search Firm helps you?

The Patent Search Firm has a team of highly experienced search experts from all technological areas. The techno-legal team performs a thorough manual search on a global database for the most pertinent solutions. Moreover, the ordering procedure is online, very handy and budget-friendly. We provide you the desired results within the deadlines. Our main aim is 100% customer satisfaction from the last decade. To know more about our services, visit The Patent Search Firm.

Other Related Articles:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *