Utility Patents

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A utility patent is a type of patent and is a legal document that allows the owner of the utility patent to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling a patented invention.  A utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention.  A utility patent does not protect the ornamental characteristics of an invention.  The ornamental characteristics of an invention may be only protected by a design patent.

A utility patent gives the owner of the patent a legal monopoly on an invention for a certain period of time.  The duration of time of a utility patent is known as the term of a patent.  A utility patent grants protection for the functional aspects of an invention. An invention may be a process, machine, and composition of matter or any improvements thereof. 35 U.S.C. §§ 100, 111.  In other words, a utility patent may be granted for software inventions, mechanical inventions, electrical inventions, and chemical inventions. The attorneys at Plus IP have experience with preparing, filing and acquiring patents for software inventions, mechanical inventions, electrical inventions, and chemical inventions and are available to discuss if your invention may be entitled to utility patent protection.

Generally speaking, the term of a utility patent application is 20 years and is calculated from the date the applicant filed the utility patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

The most important part of a utility patent application is the “claims” section.  The claims section describes what the applicant believes is inventive about the article of manufacture that is the subject of the utility patent application.  The claims of a utility patent should be carefully crafted in order to provide the broadest protection available. In many cases, almost every word of the patent claims of a utility patent should be carefully chosen in order to properly protect an invention. For example, the words “comprises” and “comprises of” have very different meaning when used in the claim of a utility patent.  That is why it is crucial to know and understand the patent laws when drafting a utility patent application.

In order to acquire a utility patent an applicant must prepare and file a utility patent application with the USPTO.  Typically, the type of utility patent application filed to begin the utility patent application process is either a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application.  There are benefits to both the provisional and non-provisional patent application.  Our patent attorneys at Plus IP are available to advise you as to what type of patent application is best suited for your needs.

After an applicant files a non-provisional utility patent application with the USPTO, an examining attorney at the USPTO then examines the utility patent application to determine if it is entitled to patent protection under the patent laws. If an examining attorney believes that a utility patent application is entitled to patent protection, then the examining attorney will issue the applicant a patent.  However, if an examining attorney believes a utility patent application is not entitled to patent protection, then an examining attorney will send the applicant a document known as an “Office Action” explaining the reasons why the patent is not entitled to patent protection.

A patent attorney may respond to the Office Action with legal arguments as to why the utility patent application should be granted a utility patent under the law. The back and forth between a patent attorney and the USPTO examining attorney is known as patent prosecution. Our attorneys here at Plus IP are registered patent attorneys and are experienced in prosecuting utility patent applications.  The attorneys at Plus IP are available to discuss your concept or invention to determine if your invention may be entitled to utility patent protection.