Patents are grants from the U.S. Government to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing another person’s new, non-obvious, and useful invention. There are three types of patents: utility, design and plant.
Utility patents grants the inventor of any, new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement the right of exclusion as discussed above.
A design patent is a grant to the inventor of a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A new design must be original meaning non- obvious and unknown to those in similar field of design. The design itself must serve a decorative purpose rather than a functional one to successfully be classified as ornamental. It is possible and sometime necessary for a person to apply for both a design patent and a copyright as the two often overlap.
Patents for plants are fairly new as they have only been available since the early 1900s. The patent is granted to the inventor or discoverer who asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. “Discover” refers to discovery by asexual reproduction not by finding.
When considering whether or not your business needs to file a for a patent consider these four things:
- With very limited exception, patent protection is only granted if there is no public use of public disclosure of the invention (utility, design, or plant) anywhere in the world.
- Patents give the owner the exclusive right to make, use or sell their invention.
- Patent protection is limited to the United States for a term determined by the type of patent the owner receives.
- There are two types of patent applications, provisional and non provisional patent applications.