Three Types of Patents Available for Inventors

If you have come up with a new invention, or even just an idea for a new invention, you need to make sure you take the necessary steps to protect it. In most instances, this means filing for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to prevent others from taking your idea and using it as their own. There are three types of patents available for inventors. This blog offers an introduction to each of these options so you can be sure to apply for a type that’s right for you.

Utility Patent

Utility patents are popular because you can use them to patent a variety of ideas and inventions. When applying, you will have to specify what category of utility patent you need. The categories are:

  • Process
  • Machine
  • Manufacture
  • Composition of Matter
  • Improvement of Existing Idea

Your invention may fit into more than one of these categories, but you will need to pick the one that you feel is most appropriate. Once you have filed the patent, you will have the legal ability to stop others from making, using, selling, or importing products using your invention. Utility patents are typically used for things like computer hardware or software, new cosmetics, electrical circuits or inventions, new chemical formulas, foods, housewares, industrial machines, and much more. In most cases, a utility patent will provide you with the legal rights to your invention for a period of 20 years.

Design Patent

A design patent is used to protect a new design for an existing product or idea. For example, if you come up with a new design for a chair, you can patent that design so it can’t be used by another party without your permission. The new design must be for ornamental or aesthetic aspects of the item, not an entirely new function because that would require a utility patent. This type of patent is often used to protect brand-specific designs. A design patent offers protection for a period of 14 years.

Plant Patent

This is an uncommon type of patent that covers the development of new and unique plants. Scientists who work on coming up with such plants or new ways to reproduce them may benefit from this type of patent. Plant patents will remain in place for at least 20 years.

Applying for Patents

If you have an invention, it is important to apply for a patent as soon as possible to minimize the risk of another party stealing your idea. Just as important, you must obtain the right type of patent or patents and file them correctly to avoid potential problems. Our team has extensive experience filing and defending patents and helping inventors to get the intellectual property protection they need. Contact us to find out the best course of action for you.

Integrated General Counsel