Patent Types

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The USPTO has defined four patent types. [1] The four patent types allow for the right to exclude, the patent holder's ability to choose who can make, sell or use the patent. The scope of this right is decided on a patent to patent basis. U.S. Code: Title 35 provides detailed explanations of patent law and patent types. [2]

  • Design Patent: covers new and original designs used for decoration in the manufacture of products. The right to exclude is only effective for fifteen years, if the patent application was submitted by or after May 13,2015. In any other case, the patent will be ineffective fourteen years after its date of issuance.
  • Plant Patent: covers new “asexually reproduced” plants that can be differentiated from previously discovered or invented species. Asexual reproduction could refer to reproduction by a newly designed lab procedure. For example, new hybrids or mutated plants are subject to plant patents. The right to exclude and protect the patent is given for twenty years after the date the patent application was filed.
  • Utility Patent (Patent for Invention): covers new or improved processes, machinery, manufactured products (referred to as articles of manufacture in patent law), and new types of compounds or mixtures (referred to as composition of matter in patent law). The patent awards the right to exclude for twenty years after filing the application and may require maintenance fees.
  • Reissue Patent: corrects errors in previously issued UPR (Utility, Plant, Design) Patents. Reissue Patents may alter who can be excluded from licensing of the patent but not how long the patent holder may enforce exclusion.