Design Patents

Design patents are also known as industrial designs in some countries, including Barbados. Similar to utility patents, the design must be new and original. And whereas an invention seeking utility patent protection must be useful, only the ornamental or aesthetic features of a utilitarian article qualify for design patent protection. Because of the focus on the aesthetic aspect, design patents take less time to obtain. The term of protection is also usually shorter than a utility patent.

There is some overlap between design patents and copyrights and trademarks. While copyright also provides protection to aesthetic features, that applies only if those features exist separately from the utilitarian or functional features of the item. If they are inseparable then copyright protection is not available.

A design patent and a trademark could protect the same item, for different purposes. For example, a design patent could be obtained for the ornamental shape of a Coke bottle, separable from its functionality. The shape of that same bottle could be protected as a trademark, if it functions to identify for consumers the source or maker of the bottle and it contents.