Q: What is a utility patent?
A: It is just another name for a regular patent (i.e., not a design patent or a plant patent, both of which are rare).
A: A utility patent covers the way that the idea is useful rather than the ornamental appearance of the object which is covered in a design patent. One way to tell a US design patent apart from the much more common utility patent is that the number for a design patent starts with the letter D. So D123456 rather than a utility patent which is usually a 7 digit number 9,800,123 but we just crossed beyond 10,000,000 in this series so you may see an 8 digit number.
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