Types Of U.S. Patents

Understanding what is patentable and choosing the appropriate process

Determining whether your invention qualifies for patent protection and choosing the correct patent process are the first steps in protecting your intellectual property. There are different types of patents for different types of inventions, and each has its own rules, processes and limitations. When you become a client of Benjamin Appelbaum Attorney at Law, we help classify your invention and obtain the most appropriate type of patent protection.

The three main substantive patent types

United States patents fall into one of three substantive types. The category that encompasses your invention can have an impact on the application process as well as your future patent rights:

  • Utility patents - This is the most common type of patent. It encompasses most designs, processes, formulas and other inventions, and accounts for 90 percent of the patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues. A utility patent gives you exclusive rights to an invention for 20 years from the date of your application, subject to your obligation to pay periodic maintenance fees.
  • Design patents - A design patent applies to original ornamental designs of manufactured articles. It does not apply to the technical or functional design of the same article, which would be subject to a utility patent. Design patents currently provide 14 years of exclusive use and do not require the holder to pay maintenance fees.
  • Plant patents - This newer type of patent allows bioengineers to secure exclusive rights to an invented or discovered asexually reproducing plant. This is limited to cultivated plants or engineered hybrids or mutations. It does not apply to plants that occur naturally. Plant patents provide 20 years of exclusive use and licensing and do not require the payment of maintenance fees.

Provisional patent applications and other procedural patent types

In addition to the three substantive types of patents, there are also several procedural variants that allow inventors to secure a level of protection short of a final USPTO-issued patent. An intellectual property attorney can advise you when these procedures might be appropriate for you:

  • Provisional patents applications - Filing a provisional application allows you to secure an earlier application date as well as use the phrase "patent pending" without submitting a full patent application. Having an earlier application date can help resolve patent challenges in your favor. To receive this benefit, however, you must file your full patent application no more than one year after filing your provisional application.

Contact a patent attorney with 20 years of experience

When you work with Benjamin Appelbaum Attorney at Law, we can establish an effective strategy for protecting your intellectual property. Call our office in Flanders, New Jersey at 877-649-6002 during normal business hours to set up a consultation. You also can contact us online at any time. We serve clients in Morris, Sussex, Warren counties, and throughout New Jersey and nationwide.