|Protects how the invention works.||Protects the shape of the invention only.|
|Can stop someone from making the invention, regardless of the invention’s shape.||Does not stop someone from making the invention if they make it with a different exterior shape.|
|Must explain how the invention works and how it is put together.||Cannot explain how the invention works and how it is put together.|
A utility patent and a design patent are not mutually exclusive, which means you don’t choose one or the other. You can and may need both as they protect different aspects of an invention.
Many inventors apply for the utility patent to protect how an invention works and also a design patent for how the invention looks. For example, Apple has designs patents for the shape of their iPhone, and also utility patents for the components which make the iPhone work. Remember, utility patent and design patent are not substitutes for the other. They work hand in hand!