A Brief Summary On US Patents

A Brief Summary On US Patents

This is a brief summary on US patents. Patents and trademarks are both issued by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). A patent gives you the right to exclude others from making, using or selling your invention in the United States. Most patents last for twenty years, beginning on the date the application for a non-provisional or provisional patent was first filed.  Once a patent is issued it becomes your responsibility to enforce the patent.  The rights granted by the USPTO are only honored within the United States and U.S. territories.

There Are Three Different Types of Patents Issued By The USPTO

  • Utility patents may be given to anyone who invents a useful process, a machine, a manufactured product, etc. Examples: Computer hardware or medications. An utility patent can be provisional or non-provisional.
  • Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents an original and ornamental design. Example: The look of an athletic shoe.
  • Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces a new variety of plants. Example: Hybrid tea roses.


Very simply an utility patent protects the way an article works and is used while a design patent protects the way an article looks. Both design and utility patents may be obtained for a particular product if it is inventive in its utility and ornamental appearance.

Utility applications can be:

  • Provisional: A provisional application is a very simple patent application which includes only a description of the invention.
  • Non-provisional: A non-provisional application is the full patent application that includes e everything – oaths drawings and claims. Within one year of filing your provisional application you have to file a nonprovisional application.

Patent law specifies the rules for patents and the USPTO administers all patent laws related to the granting of patents and other provisions to do with patents. They also publish and distribute all patent information. This is a very brief overview of patents, please feel free to comment and add to this if you’re an expert on this topic. Thanks!

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