All patents are not the same, and different types of patent are not enforced in the same manner. Patents vary depending on what industry they apply to and what type of invention they involve.
However, all patents can fit into one of three major classifications: plant patents, utility patents, and design patents. The length of time during which a patent can be enforced varies depending on what type of patent it is. The following is a brief explanation of what each of the three types of patent involves:
The utility patent is the most common type of patent. Utility patents are made on ideas for new, useful inventions. In order to successfully file a utility patent, one must come up with an invention that is not obvious or previously known to those who work as inventors.
A utility patent can be broken down into five different types: processes, machines, manufacturing methods, compositions of matter, and improvements on previously existing ideas.
Sometimes, a utility patent involves more than one of these things. For example, those who invent computer software work in an area of utility patenting that involves not only the creation of new processes, but also the creation of new machines.
Utility patents involve new ideas in a variety of fields including chemistry, biology, computer design, computer software, cosmetics, food inventions, housewares, and even magic trick development.
Utility patents can be enforced for a period of 20 years after their date of issue.
Patents are frequently filed for developments in art and design. This type of patent generally falls under the category of design patent. A design patent can be filed for not only designs on aesthetic features like wallpaper and apparel, but also for designs used in manufacturing on products.
A design patent can not be made for an idea or creation that is functional. If an item is functional, it will qualify as a utility patent.
A design patent can be enforced for a period of 14 years after it is issued.
This is a fairly unique type of patent that is filed on the development of a new asexually reproduced plant variety. This type of patent is useful to plant breeders so that they can produce and market a distinct plant variety or use its capabilities or characteristics.
Once a plant patent is issued, it is applicable for a period of 20 years. However, plant patents filed in the past are only applicable for 17 years after being issued if they were filed before June 8, 1995. Contact a lawyer that specializes in patent acquisition for more information.