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Design Patents vs. Utility Patents: What Are The Differences?

Fri Apr 8, 2022 Patents

When you are building your brand, you need to start considering the incorporation of patents into your business. Patents have the ability to give you incredible leverage in the marketplace against your competitors. If you need help navigating the patent process, it is best to speak with an Amazon seller attorney.

Once you realize that it is best to file for a patent to protect your brand, the next thing to consider is whether the invention will be best protected by filing a design patent, a utility patent, or both. 

Design Patents

Design patents protect the appearance of your invention. They protect your product’s look, such as its shape or any other external characteristic that is unique to that product. They are designed to protect the non-functional, ornamental aspects of the product. Design patents may be easier to obtain than other patent types, and are also less likely to be rejected. They are only available for manufactured products, and the design being patented cannot relate to the function of the product. As always, the design must be original.

If you are concerned about competitors copying the unique appearance of your product, then we generally recommend filing an application for a design patent. Although design patents are generally narrower in scope, they have the advantage of being easier to obtain compared to utility patents. 

Utility Patents

Utility patents, unlike design patents, do not protect your invention’s appearance. Instead, it protects the invention itself, such as how the product is used and how it works. It is possible to obtain a utility patent on just certain parts of a product or the entire product. Utility patents protect functional aspects of your invention instead of ornamental features. 

With respect to the strength of protection, it is almost always preferable to protect your invention by filing a utility patent application when possible. In some cases, it may be appropriate to file both design and utility patent applications. An Amazon seller attorney at ESQgo can advise you when this is the best course of action.

Broad Summarization Of The Key Differences Between Design Patents and Utility Patents


Design Patent

Utility Patent (nonprovisional)


How It Looks

How It Works or Functions

Allowance Rate/ Office Action Rejections

86.4% Allowance

(7 out of 8 allowed)

90% Rejection (1st Office Action), Followed By 50% Chance of 2nd Office Action

How Much Time Does It Take? (average pendency to issuance or abandonment)

18 Months

36 Months

Total Cost (for small business)

$2,500 to $5,000


Patent Term

15 Years From Grant Date

20 Years From Filing Date

How To Determine Infringement (point of reference)


Written Claims

Speak With An Amazon Seller Attorney At ESQgo

If filing a patent is on your to-do list, it is best to get started sooner rather than later. Contact ESQgo and speak with an experienced Amazon seller attorney and learn more about your patent options, and the best way to proceed to protect your brand.