Attorney Advice on: What is the Meaning of “Patent”
by Michael Foycik, registered US patent attorney
April 18, 2013
An important legal question is, what is the meaning of “patent” and, how is it relevant to inventors and businesspersons. The simplest answer is that a patent is a monopoly for a limited time, which is granted by a governmental entity.
In the US, there are several main types of patent: design; utility; provisional. But, what is the meaning of “patent” when there are several types? Again, a short answer will be helpful, explained as follows.
A design patent covers the ornamental features of an invention which are non-functional - imagine an unusual perfume bottle shape as an example. A utility patent covers only features which are functional, rather than ornamental – think of a car engine as an example. A provisional patent is somewhat like a utility patent application but exists for only one year. So, the answer to the question what is the meaning of “patent” is that it depends on the type of invention and the type of protection needed.
The lifetime of a US patent also differs, depending on the type. A utility patent provides patent protection, typically, for 17 years. A design patent does so typically for 14 years. A provisional patent application, on the other hand, provides defensive protection and priority rights and lasts for just one year. Therefore, when considering what is the meaning of patent, it helps to also consider the several types of protection afforded by the various types of patent described above.
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com
, or call at 877-654-3336.