Design patents protect the ornamental view of an invention, not how the invention functions. As such, design patents are less expensive and still allow you to legally claim “patent pending” while the application is pending at the USPTO. However, they’re not considered to be stronger than utility patents (assuming to get a utility patent, which is much more difficult). Many clients make both utility & design patent applications since the design patent is so inexpensive, so likely to get granted more quickly. The design patent may be the first arrow you can shoot at a competitor since utility patents often take 2 to 3 years to get to the examination.
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