A patent is an exclusivity right granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to an inventor, group, or entity for one of three different types new and original inventions or ideas. According to the USPTO, the three types of patentable ideas are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.
Utility patents are awarded to any person, group of persons, or entity that creates or discovers a new and useful process, act, or method of accomplishing industrial or technical procedures or development. Utility patents are also awarded to anyone that creates or discovers a new machine or new manufactured item. Utility patents even apply to new and useful composition of matter. That includes chemical compositions and scientific formulas that may include the combination of ingredients as well as newly created or discovered chemical compounds. Utility patents may apply to any new and useful improvement made to any of the above-mentioned categories as well.
Design patents are awarded to any person, group of persons, or entity that invents any new and non-obvious decorative design to an item for manufacture. A design patent only protects the appearance of the item, not its make-up or practical features. The procedures used in the granting of design patents are the same as those used to grant other types of patents with a couple of unique differences. The filing fee for a design patent application is different from that of other patents. A design patent has a patent term of fourteen years from the date of grant, and maintenance fees are not necessary to keep a design patent enforced. The design will be examined by the USPTO. If the design is found to be new and original design, the applicant is entitled to a design patent; the USPTO will send a notice of allowance to the applicant, the applicant’s attorney, or agent, requesting payment of applicable fees for the patent. The drawing of a design for patent must conform to the same rules as other drawings and the drawing should clearly depict the appearance of the pattern because the drawing will define the scope of design patent protection. Only one claim is permitted for a design patent application.
Plant patents are awarded to any person, group of persons, or entity that Invents or discover a new and distinct variety of plant. The plant must be reproduced asexually. That includes cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings. This does not apply to tuber-propagated plants or wild plants found in an uncultivated state. Asexually reproduced plants are any plants reproduced by any means other than seed germination. That may include reproduction by cuttings, layering, budding, grafting, rooting, and inarching. Tuber-propagated plants include plants grown from a short, thickened portion of an underground branch.