What is the Difference Between Ornamental and Utility Patents?
A design is a particular plan or specifications for the arrangement of an object on a structure, or for the execution of an action or procedure, or even the outcome of such plan or specification, in the shape of a physical prototype, machine or article. The verb to design generally indicates the process of designing a design. Designing refers to the art and science of formulating ideas for a structure, program, device, etc., from actual existing examples, so as to make it useful or efficient in practice. A designer combines the art and science of formulating ideas to solve certain practical problems.
Design patents refer to the property right granted by the authorities in the United States to a person who purports to discover new and useful ornamental features in objects originally produced under the authority of the government. The term ornamental in this context does not necessarily imply utility patents. Utility patents are designed to provide protection from the undue competition, which may result from the restriction of price in respect of certain classes of products, the discovery of which could be monopolized, and from the unpatenable abuse of competitive positions in the service and manufacture of particular articles.
In general terms, a design patent secures against the unauthorized structuring of the structure, machine or article on which the patent is sought, but does not secure the protection of the ornamental features themselves. For example, if an ordinary observer discovers that a machine is symmetrical from a given point of view, but does not see any other ornamental feature which would allow the machine to be copied and altered, the ordinary observer will not be entitled to sue the manufacturer under the design patent to prevent him from selling a perfectly good machine with the same basic design. If, however, the ornamental feature does not affect the working of the machine, and if the ordinary observer could not reasonably be expected to distinguish the machine from a competitor’s product even without the ornamental feature, the ordinary observer should not be prevented from selling the product to the competitor, unless the competitor actually copies the machine from an original manufacturer. If the competitor actually alters the machine in a structural or artistic way, however, it is likely that the plaintiff will succeed in a lawsuit against him for selling a modified machine with the same basic design.