An ornamental design patent protects the design of a manufactured object. It is different from a utility patent. A utility patent protects the function and operation of an item. An ornamental design patent only covers the appearance of the product.
"Ornamental" in this case means the visual appearance of a product. This is further explained in the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure. It's defined as "the appearance presented by the article which creates an impression through the eye upon the mind of the observer."
It's important to note the differences between the two types of patents. Many inventors are confused by the options. It's sometimes hard to know which option to apply for. An ornamental design patent is granted for the design of an item. It does not include anything about the way the item works. This is beneficial if you come up with an improved design for a common item.
Industrial design rights are granted for a limited period. The duration of the protection of industrial designs varies from country to country, but it amounts at least to 10 years. In many countries, the total duration of protection is divided into successive renewable periods.