A non-provisional patent grants the right to prevent others from making, selling, or using an invention for a period of time. The right is granted by the government to unique inventions. The three types are utility, design, and plants:
- Utility patent – This patent is for new, useful, and functional items. Protection lasts 20 years, after which others may make, use, or sell the invention.
- Design patent – For a non-functional and ornamental item, this patent protects the design or image of a product. Protection lasts 15 years.
- Plant patent – This patent is for new plants made by a person. Protection lasts 20 years.
The inventor must be in possession of the invention and must fully disclose to the public in writing a description of the invention and how to make and use it.
A provisional patent, which is less complex and less costly to obtain, protects utility inventions before a full (non-provisional) patent for up to one year. It allows use of the term patent pending. It can be used to establish an early disclosure date for a non-provisional patent.
More Definitions Related to Patents
Prosecution of the Patent
Describes the interactions involved in the process of the inventor and their representatives filing a patent application and negotiating with the US Patent and Trademark Office to obtain the patent.
Making, using, offering, or selling an invention that is actively patented. Infringement must happen in the United States or by importing the infringing product into the United States.
Federal “March-In” Rights
The government’s right to seize patents if they helped to fund the product’s development. As of October 2021, they have not exercised this right.