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Utility Patent Definition How It s Issued Search and Examples

Utility Patent Definition How It s Issued Search and Examples

Utility Patent: Definition, Issuance, Search, and Examples

What Is a Utility Patent?

A utility patent covers new or improved products, processes, or machines. It prohibits unauthorized individuals or companies from making, using, or selling the invention. Most people refer to this type of patent when they mention a patent.

Key Takeaways

  • Utility patents are specific to new or improved products, processes, or machines.
  • Patent owners have exclusive rights to the invention, giving utility patents significant value.
  • Utility patents last for up to 20 years but may require maintenance fees.
  • Utility patents make up over 90% of all patents granted by the USPTO.

Understanding Utility Patents

Utility patents give inventors exclusive commercial rights to their patented technology. Obtaining a utility patent can be challenging, time-consuming, and expensive.

Utility patents cover new or improved products, processes, or machines, granting exclusive commercial rights for 20 years. They are defined in Title 35, Part II, Chapter 10, Subsection 101 of the United States Code.

The USPTO issues utility patents, which require maintenance fees and offer the right to stop others from manufacturing, using, or selling the invention.

The first step in obtaining a utility patent is usually enlisting a patent attorney or agent, followed by hiring a technical illustrator to create patent drawings. Filing costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

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Utility Patents vs. Other Patents

A product protected by a utility patent may also have a design patent, which safeguards its unique visual elements. Design patents last for 14 to 15 years and require minimal text.

A plant patent is another type of patent available for newly discovered or created plant varieties. It lasts for 20 years and requires no maintenance fees.

Examples of Utility Patents

Utility patents cover various inventions, including:

  • Machines
  • Articles of manufacture
  • Processes
  • Compositions of matter

Utility patents account for over 90% of all patents granted by the USPTO.

Searching for Utility Patents

The USPTO provides various search options for patents, including keyword searches and searches by inventors’ names and application status.

How Do Utility Patents Differ From Other Patents?

Utility patents are specific to new or improved products, processes, or machines, constituting over 90% of patents granted by the USPTO. Other types of patents include design patents and plant patents.

Can You Search for Existing Patents?

The USPTO’s Patent Public Search allows users to search for existing patents using keywords and other descriptions.

Do Utility Patents Expire?

Utility patents are valid for up to 20 years and may require maintenance fees.

The Bottom Line

Utility patents grant exclusive rights over new or improved products, processes, or machines. They are the most common type of patent granted by the USPTO and last for up to 20 years.

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