What is a Patent?
A patent is 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.
A patent may be applied for only in the name(s) of the actual inventor(s).
A. Utility patents are available for:
1. A new, nonobvious and useful:
- Article of manufacture
- Composition of matter
2. Improvements of any of the above.
B. Design patents are available for new and non-obvious ornamental designs for articles of manufacture.
C. Patents are also available for invented or discovered asexually reproduced, distinct and new varieties of plants, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.
- Laws of nature
- Physical phenomena
- Abstract ideas which are not useful (such as perpetual motion machines) or offensive to public morality
For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, utility and plant patents are granted for a term which begins with the date of the grant and usually ends 20 years from the date the inventor first applies for the patent, subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. Design patents last 15 years from the date the patent is issued. No maintenance fees are required for design patents.