What is a patent?

A patent is a limited monopoly granted by the U.S. Government to stop others from making, using, or selling your invention.  Because a patent is the grant of negative rights, patents can only be used to stop others from infringing on your rights.

What Can Be Patented?

There are three types of patents:

  • Utility Patents
  • Design Patents
  • Plant Patents

Utility Patents

Utility patents protect any new, useful, and nonobvious:

  • Machine
  • Process
  • Composition of matter
  • Article of manufacturer
  • An Improvement of at least one of the above

Design Patents

Design patents protect the ornamental look of a product.  This might include, for example, the tread design of a pair of shoes or a car tire.  Design patents only protect the nonfunctional portion of the design.  It is best to discuss your design with a patent attorney to determine whether portions of—or the entire design—can be protected via a design patent.

Talk with a knowledgable patent attorney

How Long Does A Patent Last?

Utility patents last from twenty years from the filing date.  In contrast, a design patent lasts 14 years from the date that the patent is granted.

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

The government charges three basis fees:

  • A filing fee (paid when the patent application is filed)
  • An issue fee (paid if the patent application issues into a patent)
  • Maintenance fees (paid at 3-1/2, 7-1/2, and 11-1/2 years after the patent is granted)

What is a PCT Patent Application?

The PCT (Patent Cooperation Agreement) is an international agreement that many—but not all—are a part of.  Typically a PCT application is filed on the one year anniversary of the first filing date of an application.  Filing a PCT application on the year anniversary provides applicants with an addition 18 motions to file applications in each individual country that the applicant wishes to enter.  In many cases, applicants are not sure which countries they will need protection.  The PCT application provides additional time to make that determination.



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