Mann's Bait Company issued a press release stating that Andy Poss has been issued a design patent for his Alabama Rig, which took the bass-fishing world by storm 3 years ago and spurred dozens of companies to produce similar umbrella-style contraptions. His application for a utility patent is still pending.
According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website, a design patent is "issued for a new, original and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture. It permits its owner to exclude others from making, using or selling the design for a period of 14 years from the date of patent grant."
A more restrictive utility patent is "issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to 20 years from the date of patent application filing, subject to the payment of maintenance fees."
In short, a design patent pertains to form, whereas a utility patent relates to function.
The design patent number is D687,917S (Michael A. Poss). The application number for the utility patent is 13/030,014.
Mann's is the exclusive licensee for the manufacturing and marketing of the Alabama Rig. The A-Rig and all other umbrella rigs have been banned for use at professional bass fishing's tour level (Bassmaster Elite Series, FLW Tour and PAA Tournament Series), but are allowed in triple-A events (Bassmaster Opens, FLW Rayovac Series) and many lower-level derbies.