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
          filing ++, 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 for a period 
          of fourteen years from the date of patent grant.  Design 
          patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance 
          fees. Please note that the fourteen year term of a 
          design patent is subject to change in the near future.

    *     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 filing ++.  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
          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.

++   Although, the length of utility and plant patent protection
(patent term) was previously seventeen years from the date of
patent grant, utility and plant patents filed after June 8, 1995
now have a patent term of up to twenty years from the date of
filing of the earliest related patent application. Utility and
plant patents which were applied for on or before June 8, 1995, and
which were or will be in force on June 8, 1995, now have a
patent term of seventeen years from the date of patent grant or
twenty years from the date of filing of the earliest related
patent application, whichever is longer.  Utility patents are
subject to the payment of periodic maintenance fees to keep the
patent in force. Patent terms can be extended under some specific
circumstances.  See the U.S. Code Title 35 - Patents for a full
description of patent laws.

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Questions regarding this web page should be directed to:
(address as of 10/2013)
             U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
             Electronic Information Products Division
             Patent Technology Monitoring Team (PTMT)
             P.O. Box 1450
             Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

             tel (571) 272-5600
             FAX (571) 273-0110
             email oeip@uspto.gov

_______________________________________________________________________________________
SOURCE:   U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
          Electronic Information Products Division, Patent Technology Monitoring Team (03 October 2013)

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