A utility patent is granted for new and useful processes, machines, manufactured articles or compositions of matter or improvements in the same. In the United States, the term for utility patents begins on the date the patent is issued and ends 20 years from the filing date of the application.
There are two types of utility patent applications that can be filed, namely, provisional and nonprovisional applications. After an application of either type is filed at the Patent Office the product in question can be marked “Patent Pending”.
- Provisional applications may be filed without claims specifying the exact nature of the invention. These applications are not examined by the Patent Office.
- Provisional applications establish a filing date and are cheaper to file than non-provisional applications.
- Provisional applications do not become patents. They are automatically abandoned one year after their filing date. In order to obtain the benefit of this filing date the inventor must file a non-provisional application claiming priority from the provisional application must be filed before the provisional application becomes abandoned.
- It is not necessary to file a provisional before filing a non-provisional application.
- Non-provisional applications include claims that specify the exact invention for which a patent is being sought. A non-provisional application is examined by the Patent Office and can become a patent should it meet all the required criteria.
- Non-provisional applications establish a filing date that can be relied on to claim priority in foreign applications for that invention.
Design patents are granted for new, original, and ornamental designs for manufactured articles. The term of a design patent is 14 years from the date of grant in the U.S.
Design patents are granted for new, original and ornamental designs for manufactured articles, i.e., they protect the external appearance of an article. The term of a U.S. design patent is 14 years from the date of issue.
A plant patent is granted for inventions or discoveries and asexual reproduction of plants (that is, vegetation). In the United States, the term of plant patents begins on the date of grant and ends 20 years from the filing date of the application.
A plant patent is granted for inventions or discoveries and asexual reproduction of plants i.e., flowers, trees, crops, etc. In the United States, the term of plant patents begins on the date of issue and ends 20 years from the filing date of the application.