A patent is a government granted right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a predetermined time period. The patent gives the owner title to the invention, much like an automobile title registers ownership to a motor vehicle. The patent is required to contain a description of the invention, and conclude with a legal description of what the patentee owns rights to, called claims.
What Is Patentable?
- chemical composition
- botanical plant
- ornamental design
or improvements to any of the above.
Are There Different Kinds of Patents?
The most common type of patent is a utility patent. Utility patents protect the useful features of a product, machine, process, or chemical composition. It does not matter how the product looks. Instead, a utility patent may protect what the invention does, how it does it, or what it is made of. When we are able to broadly protect the novel features, then changes in construction, size, shape, appearance, and even the substitution of other known parts or materials may all still be encompassed by the patent.
Design patents, which are the second most common type of patent, protect the appearance of a manufactured product. Some common examples are stuffed animals, fashionable garments, sports cars, and even automobile tire treads and tennis shoes. In these cases, a design patent can be used very effectively to prevent others from copying the unique appearance, thereby maintaining brand identity.