Protecting your idea or patent with the USPTO will in many respects dovetail with the age-old debate of “form over function”. In a nutshell, there are two different types of patents, design and utility, which respectively mirror the metaphor above.
You may have heard of both (particularly design patents) in the recent titanic patent dispute between Apple and Samsung over whether the Asian technology giant stole some of Apple’s key design and user interface features.
A design patent very loosely relates to the ornamental and interface aspects of your invention, while a utility patent governs the possible use or function of the idea.
The courts appear to ruling in favor of Apple’s claim – and not just for design patents.
I generally like utility patents because they offer several ways to claim precedence over other inventions. They also last several years longer than a utility patent. However, your particular invention, after careful review, will determine the ultimate route I suggest.
I go over these points in the video below. I hope you find it useful and informative in your journey to successfully patent your idea.