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The Importance of Synchronizing Design Patent and Utility Patent Applications

Many products, especially consumer-facing products, have valuable functional and ornamental aspects. For example, the functionality of the motor of a kitchen blender may be protectable by a utility patent; whereas, the appearance of the blender’s housing may be protectable by a design patent.

When pursuing design and utility patents for a product, applicants should be aware of certain pitfalls. For example, an earlier published utility patent application can serve as prior art against a later filed design patent application, which can render the later filed application unpatentable. Thus, applicants may consider filing a utility application and a design application at the same time. Alternatively, an applicant may file a single utility application that includes the scope of design protection desired and later file a separate design patent application claiming benefit to the earlier filed utility application.