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Copyrights can, like design patents, also extend to utilitarian articles, but only to the extent the aesthetic features of the article can exist independently from the article, like a sculptural lamp base.
Design patents are obtained only through formal registration, and applications must be filed within one year of the first offer for sale, public disclosure, or public use of a product embodying the design.
S., compared with more than 7.5 million utility patents.
It can protect an item’s shape as well as surface decoration.
However, to be eligible for patent protection, the design cannot be “obvious.” Utility patents protect the way an item is used or works, without regard for how the item looks.
There are subtle, but important, distinctions between design patents and other forms of intellectual property protection.
Here is a brief guide to some of the alternative ways of protecting a company’s intellectual property: While both design patents and copyrights cover aesthetic features of articles, copyrights generally cover nonutilitarian articles like paintings and sculptures — that is, articles that exist only for their looks and not for their usefulness.