Written by: Nick Mesiti for the Daily Record
There are generally three types of patents – utility, design and plant patents. Plant patents cover new plant breeds and hybrids. Utility patents cover the function and/or structure of processes, articles of manufacture and compositions of matter. Design patents cover ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. Thus, an article of manufacture can be the subject of utility patents or design patents. A design patent would cover the article’s ornamental design features, while a utility patent could cover the articles structure or function. For example, a design patent may cover the ornamental design of a chair or other piece of furniture, while a utility patent may cover the structure or functional features of the chair.
Although utility patents and design patents may cover aspects of the same article of manufacture, each type of patent provides different legal benefits. One benefit of a design patent is that damages for infringement thereof may be measured by either the infringer’s profit or the patent owner’s lost profits. However, for utility patents, measure of damages is limited to the patent owner’s lost profits. Thus, a major advantage of a obtaining a design patent is that allows the patent owner to recover the infringer’s profits, which in most instances is much more than the patent owner’s lost profits.