A utility patent is issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.
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Patents: A patent is an exclusive right or predetermined monopoly granted to a person by the United States to exclude others from making, using, selling or offering for sell the person’s invention throughout the United States or importing into the United States for the entire duration of the patent term.
Patent Rights: A patent provides a patent owner a government-granted exclusive right over an invention for the duration of the patent term. It allows the patent owner to make financial gains by either exploiting the invention into a commercial product or licensing it to others for handsome royalties and/or other considerations.
Types of Patent: 1) Utility, 2) Design and 3) Plant. Specifically, a utility patent protects the functional aspects of the invention. A design patent protects the ornamental features of the invention. A plant patent protects asexually reproduced distinct and new variety of plants.
Length of Protection: A utility and plant patent protection lasts for 20 years from the date of earliest filing. A design patent protection lasts for 14 years from the date of earliest filing
Types of Patent Applications: An inventor can apply for two kinds of patent applications – 1) provisional and 2) non-provisional. Both applications are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
A provisional application allows the inventor get an effective filing date with the USPTO. A provisional application lasts for one year after which it is automatically abandoned. A non-provisional application would need to be filed during the one-year period to retain the effective filing date.
A non-provisional application allows the inventor to commence the examination process on its merits, gets an effective filing date, and must include valid claims of the invention.
Effective filing date is important: Patents in the United States are now based on a first-to-file system. The person who files first is awarded with effective priority date for the invention. This means that the right to the grant of a patent for a given invention lies with the first person to file a patent application for protection of that invention, regardless of the date of actual invention.
Prior Art: Prior art may be defined as any invention similar to Applicant’s invention described in a printed application, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the general public before the filing date of the applicant’s claimed invention. Prior art can also be the Applicant’s claimed invention described in an issued United States patent, in a published United States patent application, or a published foreign application designating the United States and was effectively filed before effective filing date of the Applicant’s claimed invention.