In layman's term a design patent is a type of patent that covers the ornamental aspects of design. The functional aspects of an invention are covered by a utility patent. Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an invention if it is new both in its utility (what makes it useful) and its appearance.
The application process for a design patent are the same as those relating to other patents with a few differences. A design patent has a shorter term of 14 years, and no maintance fees are necessary. If your design patent application passes its examination, a notice of allowance will be sent to you or your attorney or agent asking for you to pay an issue fee.
The drawing for a design patent follow the same rules as other drawings, but no reference characters are allowed and the drawing(s) should clearly depict the appearance, since the drawing defines the scope of patent protection. The specification of a design patent application is brief and ordinarily follows a set form.
Only one claim is permitted in a design patent, following a set form.