Patents are legal documents and should be drafted by a registered patent
attorney. A patent attorney can help identify the patentable components of the invention and can design a patent strategy for your business plan or goals.
The following is a brief description of the different types of patent applications:
A Utility Patent is what most think of when they imagine a patent. Utility Patents protect
new and useful products and processes. A Utility Patent can be very broad and is usually preferred
if the invention performs a useful function or
a useful process. Examples of Utility Patents are pharmaceuticals, methods to treat medical conditions, devices for
performing particular operations and the like. A Utility Patent typically has a term of about 20 years
from filing and has a number of formal requirements.
A Design Patent protects the ornamental features of a device. In other words, a Design Patent
protects the look of the invention. Design Patents are typically much narrower in scope than
Utility Patents. Design Patents have a term of 14 years.
A Provisional Patent Application does not issue as a U.S. Patent. However a Provisional
Patent Application provides the Inventor a priority date and a 1 year grace period to file a
Utility Patent Application and/or a PCT International Patent Application. Although Provisional Patent Applications
do not require many of the formalities as a Utility Patent Application (and can therefore be less expensive) a
Provisional Patent Application should comply with the written description requirement including best mode. A Provisional Patent
Application does not effect the term of a resulting issued U.S. Patent.
A PCT Patent Application is also commonly referred to as an International Patent Application.
A PCT Patent Application never issues as a Patent itself. The PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty)
provides a centralized method for filing a patent application throughout most of the industrialized
world (excluding Taiwan). Thus, the patent application eventually must enter the national stage of
each desired country. Currently there are about 181 Member States
(countries) that belong to the PCT.
A U.S. National Stage Patent Application may be filed from a PCT Application designating the U.S.
in the Request. A National Stage application issues as a U.S. Patent and has an effective priority date according to the PCT.
Inventors may wish to discuss benefits of a continuation-in-part patent (CIP) application from a PCT with their U.S. patent attorney.
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