If you have ever created a new invention, you have looked into patents. Patents are what give inventors the exclusive right to create or use their creation for a specified amount of time. This is granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which is a federal agency that is charged with administering patent applications. Usually, the time period for patents is twenty years, which allows the inventor that patented it to have twenty years to use and develop their idea before it has to go public again and other people can try to out-invent them.
After a patent has been granted by the government agency over patents, the owner of the patent can enforce that patent by bringing patent infringement action (which is a lawsuit) against anybody that sells the invention without the patent owner’s permission. This is where it may be useful to have a knowledgeable patent lawyer in the United States, like Kaplan Law Practice, LLC at your side.
Patent law is very complex, and a good patent lawyer in the United States can help you understand it. You can learn to grasp the three basic types of patents without much help.
The three basics of patents are the three types of patents:
- Utility patents
- Design patents
- Plant patents
The Utility Patent
The most common patent in use today is the utility patent, covering almost any invention that functions in a unique manner and provides a functional use. This is why when you think of a patent, you think of an invention.
There are five categories to a utility patent: a process; a machine; a manufacture’ a composition of matter, or an improvement upon an existing idea. These categories are essentially the groups that your patent may be sorted into, and sometimes a patent may fall into multiple categories.
An instance of this is when you create a computer software (a process because it takes steps to make the computer function) and a machine (a device that takes information from input to output). Regardless of the categories your device falls into, whether it’s one of the above categories or every category available, only one patent will be issued for it.
The Design Patent
A design patent protects product designs, such as an IKEA chair, the Microsoft logo, and much more. These are typically not as commonly sought out as utility patents, but you do see patented brands and product designs every day, even if you do not realize it.
With a design patent, the design may not be functional. If your design is functional in any way, it can be considered an invention. A design patent applies to ornamental or aesthetic designs, and this design patent can only be enforced for fourteen years at a time.
The Plant Patent
The patents that are least often issued are plant patents. These are granted for nonobvious, asexually reproducing plants. You are not likely to apply for a plant patent unless you are a research scientist or an agricultural expert. This patent protects the owner from other individuals or businesses from creating this plant or profiting from it for twenty years, at least, from the date it’s applied for.