In 2007, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), nearly 500,000 patents were filed. Patents are property rights granted to the inventor or innovator for a particular invention or innovation.
The majority of regular patents expire. Once patents expire, they cannot be renewed. There are particular cases where they have been extended, or given a longer life, but this does not constitute a renewal. The reason they cannot be renewed is simple: to help promote competition and a healthy economy. The USPTO limits the duration of patents for this reason. The USPTO only grants patents with durations of fourteen or twenty years.
The basic process filing for a patent includes filling out an in-depth application with the USPTO declaring that your patent is a new invention or design. It is highly recommended to include intricately detailed drawings and sketches to explain fully the mechanics of your invention. You should be concise and technical in your explanation. Applications filled out lacking detail are usually denied.
There are four different types of patents. They are categorized by the USPTO as utility, design, plant, and provisional.
Utility – This patent is typically given to innovations in machinery, articles of manufacture, and useful improvements and processes related to machinery. A simple example of this kind is a brand new lighter. Let us say that someone invents a brand new method or process to strike up instantaneous fire. He or she would fill out an application detailing the new process in detail and then he or she would be rewarded with a utility patent for the innovation. Utility patents cannot be renewed, though.
Design – This kind is granted to articles of ornamental aspects or appearance of an innovation. They do not involve tangible or functional machinery or processes. When filing a design application, it is highly recommended not to include or explain the entire article of manufacture, only the design you seek to register with the USPTO.
Plant – A plant patent involves the discovery or cultivation of new asexually reproduced plant-life. Plants that are reproduced by methods including rooting of cuttings, budding, grafting, etc., are typically granted patents. Characteristics and origin of parentage of a plant should be included when filing an application.
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