The process of applying for a patent is complex. The first step is to determine the type of patent that should be sought. There are three main classes of patents.
The first is a plant patent. This type of patent could be granted to an inventor, an inventor's heirs or his or her assigns, who discovers or invents and asexually reproduced a new and distinct variety of plant that is not a plant found in an uncultivated state or propagated. If it is granted, it last for 20 years from the date the application was filed.
Next is a design patent. It could be granted to the inventor of a nonobvious and new ornamental design for an article that is manufactured. It is important to note that the patent is limited to the article’s appearance and does not extend to its functional or structural features. This type of grant lasts for 14 years.
The last class of patent is a utility patent. A patent could be secured by someone who discovers or invents any new and useful “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement.” It is the most common type of patent and provides the holder rights to the invention for 20 years from the application’s filing.
Because of the complexity tied to securing a patent, for most it is beneficial to work with an intellectual property lawyer throughout the process. That individual can help determine the best type of patent to file for and address any other issues that arise.