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What is a Patent?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. 

Patent Law provides the owner of a patent the “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. 

There are three types of patents:

  1. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  2. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
  3. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

What is a utility patent?

A utility patent is a form of intellectual property that protects how the invention works and/or is used, i.e., the “functional” aspects of the invention.  For your invention to qualify for utility patent protection, it must be a machine, process or method, article of manufacture, or composition of matter. Abstract ideas, natural phenomena, and laws of nature cannot be patented.  

A utility patent usually lasts for 20 years from its filing date, provided maintenance fees are paid to the USPTO. This duration can be shorter or longer, depending on related patent filings and how long the USPTO took to process the patent application.

A utility patent application may be filed as a nonprovisional or provisional patent application.  The nonprovisional application is the full application which will progress to examination with the USPTO.  A provisional patent application may be thought of as a 12-month “placeholder” application.  The provisional application allows a client to get a filing date, such that it is patent pending, but a nonprovisional claiming priority to the provisional MUST be filed within 12 months from filing the provisional application.  

What is a design patent?

Design patents protect the aesthetic or ornamental design of an item.  It is common in industries with an emphasis on style -- especially the fashion industry -- to simultaneously file design patent applications and utility patent applications for the same product.

What is a plant patent?

Plant patents protect distinct and new varieties of asexually reproduced plants.

International Patent Filings

AdamsIP routinely drafts, files, and prosecutes patent applications outside of the United States.  The attorneys at AdamsIP are licensed to write, file, and prosecute both U.S. and P.C.T. (International) patent applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Our attorneys also act as liaisons with foreign patent counsel for the filing of European, Canadian, and other foreign patents.

Contact an Alabama International Patent Attorney Today

We serve clients throughout Alabama including Mobile, Huntsville, and Birmingham