Utility vs Design
It’s important to know the distinction between a utility and a design patent. One protects a function or method of use, while the other protects the way it looks: shape, configuration, and surface ornamentation.
- Show function
- Expire after 20 years
Let’s look at the toaster presented below. Let’s say we have a new way of making toast. The best way to represent this would be to show how the machine functions.
The figures focus on the movement of the bread from within the machine. It shows its function or method of use.
- Show detail of appearance
- Expire after 15 years
Going back to our toaster, let’s say we want to show that we have a new unique design. Perhaps we want to emphasize the new shape or surface details like the buttons and dials at the bottom. The best way to represent this would be to show how the machine looks.
Notice how the figures focus on how the machine looks in different views. This is to show every surface of the new design and how it looks in its entirety.