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What Are the Different Types of Patents?

Patents in The United States

A patent is an exclusive property right given to an inventor that prevents others from using, making, or selling your invention without your permission. So, if you want to protect your intellectual property from thieves, you need to file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Types of Patents

There are three main patents that inventors can seek:

Utility Patents

Utility patents are the most common, and they protect the way an invention works. Inventors who create an entirely new machine, process, manufactured product, chemical compound, material composition, or method can apply for this type of license. Utility patents also cover functional improvements to existing inventions as long as they are new, not obvious, and useful.

Utility patents are valid for up to 20 years if you submit the required maintenance fees.

Design Patents

Meanwhile, a design patent protects the appearance of an item, rather than its function. A single design patent isn't the most reliable form of protection, but it can be obtained quickly, inexpensively, and offers the benefit of marketing a product using the term "patented design" upon getting a license.

The subject matter in a design patent application is the design applied to a manufactured good. This patent does not cover the internal mechanical structure or functional parts of a good. It merely protects the appearance and aesthetic features of an invention.

Plant Patents

The last patent protects the discovery or invention of new plants. The United States government grants plant patents to inventors who invented and asexually reproduced a new variety of plant, including any mutant species, hybrid, cultigen, and newly found seedlings. Plants that cultivated through the use of tubers and uncultivated plants are not eligible for this license. Tuber propagated plants like the Irish potato, yams, peanuts, and the Jerusalem artichoke are not patentable.

Utility Patents v. Design Patents

Depending on the nature of an invention, a utility and design patent may be used in conjunction to protect the function and appearance of the good. For instance, imagine you design running shoes with a unique outward experience that also operates mechanically different by reducing the impact felt on foot. A design patent would protect the original appearance of the shoe, while the utility patent covers the functional component.

New inventions frequently possess unique functional and ornamental qualities that may warrant the application of both types of patents. For that reason, it would be helpful to consult your options with a patent attorney. They could help you research your invention, represent you in the application process, and create a patent that will adequately protect your creation.

The Importance of Patents

Patents are useful because they grant a limited monopoly on specific products, which in turn encourages inventors to come up with new ideas. Without intellectual property rights, innovation would suffer.

If you believe your idea is better, faster, or cheaper than current alternatives, a patent attorney can guide you through the application process and formulate a patent that adequately protects your work.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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