A Guide To The Different Types Of Patents

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Patents exist to protect your rights when you design or create something new, but so many different types of inventions calls for different types of patents. From the date your patent attorney files the application, the term of a new patent is typically 20 years. Your patent lawyer can also provide other intellectual property services, such as bringing a patent infringement action, or lawsuit, against anyone who makes, sells or uses your invention without your permission. Before any of this, you need to have the right type of patent for your creation.

Utility Patents

A utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention. As the definition of a utility patent is rather broad, about 90% of all patents are utility patents. They cover machines, methods, compositions, processes, and any manufactured object that has a specific and useful function. The United States Patent and Trademark Office also issues utility patents to any improvements on existing inventions that fall in these categories. Once you’ve worked with patent law firms to file for a utility patent, your invention will have a “patent pending” status. This acts as a disclaimer to anyone looking to manufacture, sell, use, or distribute your invention that it will soon have legal protection.

Design Patents

A utility patent protects the function, or utility, of an invention while a design patent protects its aesthetic appearance. The USPTO can issue design patents for an invention’s shape, appearance, design, or general ornamentation. The key to knowing that you need a design patent rather than a utility patent is that the patented product is non-functional. If it were functional, you would need a utility patent. You can have both a design patent and a utility patent for the same invention in order to protect its new and specific appearance and its unique function. If a similar design already exists, the USPTO will likely not issue a design patent.

Plant Patents

Fewer than 1,200 plant patents are filed with the USPTO every year, making them fairly rare. When needed, plant patents protect the discovery or invention of plants that are reproduced asexually. Just as in the other two types of patents, the plant must be novel, distinct, and not obvious. This patent was initially created to protect any grower who found a new variety of plant. As competitors learned how to grow a new plant and at a larger scale, the grower would typically go out of business.

No matter which type of patent you need, seeking intellectual property services from an experienced patent lawyer will guarantee that you have the proper protection. Call today to discover the intellectual property services we offer and get on the road to filing your patent.

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