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Intellectual Property Series FAQ – Part II

As a continuation of our Intellectual Property Blog Series, Marvin Lawrence from our Washington, DC office expands a bit on the various types of patents. Marvin is a Client Service Representative specializing in Intellectual Property.

What are Patents?

Patents are a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

Are there different categories or types of patents?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues several different types of patent documents offering different kinds of protection and covering different types of subject matter.

A recently issued USPTO patent document is one of six types, generally described below. See U.S. Code Title 35 – Patents, for a full description of patents and patent laws.

Utility Patent – 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, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as “patents for invention”.

Design Patent – Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design. Design patents issued from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 shall be granted for the term of fifteen years from the date of grant. Design patents issued from applications filed before May 13, 2015 shall be granted for the term of fourteen years from the date of grant. Design patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Plant Patent – Issued for a new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced plant including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the plant for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application.  Plant patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Reissue Patent – Issued to correct an error in an already issued utility, design, or plant patent, it does not affect the period of protection offered by the original patent. However, the scope of patent protection can change as a result of the reissue patent.

Defensive Publication (DEF) – Issued instead of a regular utility, design, or plant patent, it offers what limited protection, defensive in nature, to prevent others from patenting an invention, design, or plant. The Defensive Publication was replaced by the Statutory Invention Registration in 1985-86.

Statutory Invention Registration (SIR) – This document replaced the Defensive Publication in 1985-86 and offered similar protection. Please note that the America Invents Act (AIA), which was signed into law on September 16, 2011, repeals provisions pertaining to statutory invention registrations and the issue of these documents will be discontinued.

If you need assistance with searching or filing requests with the US Patent Trademark Office, please contact our Washington DC office directly at 202-386-7575.

Resources include:
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/patdesc.htm

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