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What is a patent?

A patent is an intellectual 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.

There are three types of patents. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Here is the process for obtaining a utility patent. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

View the different types of patent applications.

First-time filers, start here

Learn general information concerning patents in our online brochure or through this downloadable and printable guide (PDF). See also resources for filing for a patent online. First time online filers may also contact the Patents Electronic Business Center for assistance.

Patent Tools and LInks

Patent Search Search for a patent, our attorney database, and more.
PAIR Check the filing status of your patent application.
EFS-Web Submit your patent application or other related items.
RAM Pay your patent maintenance fees and get patent bibliographic data.
 Assignment Search Search for patent assignment, or ownership transfer, records.
Accelerated Examination Read about the USPTO's procedures for accelerating the examination of your patent application.
Inventor FAQs Read information for independent inventors.
Contact Us Contact Patents at the USPTO, individual technology centers, the ombudsman, and search for a USPTO employee.






Patent Examiner Technical Training Program

The USPTO has instituted a Patent Examiner Technical Training Program which formalizes the process for seeking public assistance in providing technical training to patent examiners.  In the past, the USPTO has had success with patent examiner training programs in very specific areas.  Building on that success, this program creates a corps-wide effort open to all technology areas in all Technology Centers. Read more 

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH); The Fast Track Examination of Applications

Under the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), an applicant receiving a ruling from the Office of First Filing (OFF) that at least one claim in an application filed in the OFF is patentable may request that the Office of Second Filing (OSF) fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications filed in the OSF. PPH will leverage fast-track examination procedures already available in the OSF to allow applicants in the OSF to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. Read more

United States Patent and Trademark Office
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Last Modified: 12/19/2014 11:31:25 AM