A patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing subject matter that falls within the scope of the patent.
There are three types of patents – Utility, Design and Plant. There are also two types of Utility and Design Patents – Provisional and Nonprovisional.
Utility, Design and Plant Patents
A Utility Patent is the most common and what people typically envision when thinking of patents. It is the form of patent the Wright Brothers used to protect their airplane, Thomas Edison used to protect his light bulb and movie camera, and Steve Jobs uses to protect the iPhone®.
A Design Patent protects the unique shape of a functional device. Windex® bottles have a characteristic shape distinct from a 409® bottle. These bottles are protected by Design patents.
Plant Patents are used to protect new strains of plants. Every year at Valentine’s Day, florist have new colors of roses. These are typically covered by Plant patents.
Provisional and Nonprovisional Patents
Provisional Patents provide a quick and inexpensive way to protect your ideas. It grants an inventor “patent pending” status for one year, giving you time to decide whether the concept is marketable, profitable and worth the investment of an utility application. It also can protect you while you further develop an idea that is not yet perfected.
A Utility Patent protects the function of a device, a method of performing a task, or a process of forming or manipulating a material. This is the type of patent the Wright brothers used to protect the airplane and Edison used to patent the light bulb. It typically takes about 3 years for a utility patent to issue and requires detailed negotiation and communication with the Patent Office Examiners.
Unlike Utility Patents, a Design Patent protects ornamental, nonfunctional aspects of a product. If your invention is not patentable based on its functions, but has a distinct appearance, a Design Patent can help you discourage competitors from mimicking the appearance of your invention.
In today’s global economy, it is increasingly important to protect your ideas abroad as well as in the United States. Mr. Bennett has experience filing international PCT applications and working with the International Bureau, maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to secure protection for your inventions everywhere in the world.