A patent protects inventions or discoveries that meet certain requirements set by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Once you own a patent, you own property, the same way you own your house, car, or other things. There are three types of patents:

  • Utility Patent
  • Design Patent
  • Plant Patent   

With both the utility patent and plant patent, there are two types of applications: the provisional patent application and the nonprovisional patent application. You can read about the different types of patents by scrolling below.

A utility patent protects any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, OR any new or useful improvement on one of these things

  • Utility patents last for 20 years
  • A complete application includes:
    • Utility Patent Application Transmittal Form or Transmittal Letter    
    • Fees    
    • Application Data Sheet
    • Specification (with at least one claim)    
    • Drawings (when necessary)    
    • Executed Oath or Declaration    
    • Nucleotide and Amino Acid Sequence Listing (when necessary)    
    • Large Tables or Computer Listings (when necessary)

 

A design patent protects a new, original, and ornamental design for a physical product. 

  • A design patent is different from a utility patent. A utility patent products the way something is used and works, and a design patent protects the way something looks. 
  • A design patent lasts for 14 or 15 years, depending on when it is filed 
  • A complete application includes:
    • Preamble
    • Cross-reference to related applications
    • Statement regarding federally sponsored research or development
    • Fees
    • Description of the figure(s) of the drawing
    • Feature description 
    • One claim
    • Drawings or photographs
    • Executed Oath or Declaration

A plant patent protects an inventor who discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

  • A plant patent lasts for 20 years
  • A complete application includes:
    • Title of the Invention
    • Cross-reference to related applications
    • Statement regarding federally sponsored research or development
    • Fees
    • Latin name of the genus and species of the plant
    • Variety denomination 
    • Background of the invention
    • Summary of the invention
    • Brief description of the drawing 
    • Botanical description of the plant
    • One claim
    • Abstract of the disclosure 
    • Executed Oath or Declaration 
    • Drawings or photographs