The 3 Different Types of Patents

Getting a patent is one of the most exciting experiences for any inventor. It means that you have created something completely original and welcomed it into the world. What you may not realize at first is exactly what type of patent you have. There are three different types of patent, and they all mean different things.

To cover the basics, a patent protects a new, unique, and usable invention. You can manufacture and sell an invention without having it patented. However, getting a patent gives you the sole legal right to manufacture and sell your invention. You can protect it from anyone else.

Patents are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you want to get a patent, you should wait to publicly reveal your invention until after you have already applied for a patent with the USPTO. We have written before about the process to get approved for a patent. Once official, your patent protection will last for twenty years after the day you first filed your application.

As part of the patent application process, you will make it clear which type of patent you are applying for. Here are the 3 different types of patents:

Utility Patent

Utility Patents make up the vast majority of all patent applications in the USPTO. They define a Utility Patent as including any new “process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matter,” as well as any new improvements to existing ones. Let’s break that all down: A process means a way of doing something, including a technical or mechanical process. A machine includes computers and most modern pieces of technology. An article of manufacture is any good or product that can be made. A composition of matter is a chemical composition. Basically, any invention that is not a plant or a design falls under the Utility Patent category.

Design Patent

A Design Patent can be granted to anyone who invents a “new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” in the USPTO’s own words. As previously mentioned, an article of manufacture refers to any good or product that can be made and manufactured. However, a Design Patent does not protect the product itself – just the external design of it. For instance, Pringles could seek a Design Patent for their unique tube container. If granted, the Design Patent would not protect the invention of the Pringles chip in any way – just the design of the case.

Plant Patent

A Plant Patent can be granted to anyone who “invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new” plant, according to the USPTO. The asexual reproduction is important. It is proof that the patent applicant themselves can reproduce the plant, not just plant a seed and call it a day. Algae and macro-fungi are eligible for Plant Patents as well, although bacteria is not.

Start the Patent Process Today

At McDermott IP Law, we believe in protecting client innovation. If you have invented something new, a patent is the best way to protect your hard work from knock-offs and imitators. If you are ready to protect your Intellectual Property, contact McDermott IP Law today! We look forward to partnering with you.

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