A design patent protects an ornamental design for an article of manufacture. In other words, the design patent protects only the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features.
The procedures relating to granting of design patents are the similar to those of utility patents. A design patent has a term of 14 years from grant, and no fees are necessary to maintain a design patent in force. A design patent can be combined with utility patents to protect additional aspects of an invention.