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The words of the statute state: Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefore, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title. 35 U.S.C. 101.
Provides 1-year of “patent pending” status. Also provides the applicant with a filing date for U.S. and International Utility applications. Fewer requirements allows for faster turn-around and filing date, along with cheaper fees. However, because future applications depend upon this application, disclosure is key.
Full utility application in the United States. This application is reviewed for substance by the patent office and either officially granted or denied. Once granted, this patent is enforceable for 20 years from the application date.
Patent Cooperation Treaty
This is an international patent application. However, there is no such thing as an international patent. Accordingly, this application serves as a placeholder for future patent applications in the individual countries selected by the applicant.
Unlike the utility patents described above, a design patent covers the way something looks, rather than its function. In some instances, a product may have a particular function and a particular look. In such a case, both patents may be considered. In other instances, the function may not be patentable, so a design may be the best form of protection. Design patents are valid for 15 years from the date they are granted.
Very ImportantMany foreign countries have no grace period on filing once an invention has been disclosed. In other words, once the invention is disclosed and no patent has been applied for in one of these countries, the patent is forfeited. In contrast, the U.S. has a one-year grace period. This means that if your invention is disclosed before you file for a patent, you have one year to file, before forfeiting your patent rights.
Types of Patents
- Design: purely ornamental (expires 14 years from the date of filing).
- Utility: most common (expires 20 years from the date of filing).
- Plant: new variety of asexually produced plant (expires 20 years from the date of filing).