Types of Patents Available Under U.S. Law

A patent is one form of intellectual property protection that provides the legal rights to the inventor to create or sell his inventions. Once a patent is registered, no one can sell or use that invention other than the patent owner. If you like to protect your creations across the U.S., you should obtain a patent through the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

Patents registered under the USPTO will be valid for 20 years from the application filing date. Before filing a patent application for your property, you must learn about the types of patents available under U.S Law. This blog will guide you in choosing the right patent type for your invention.

Know the Types of Patents in the U.S.

There are four types of patents available under U.S. law. They are:

  1. Utility Patent (Non- provisional)
  2. Provisional Patent
  3. Design Patent
  4. Plant Patent

Based on the nature of your invention, you are required to choose the patent type. Determining the patent type is the foremost step in filing the patent application. Once you choose the patent type, the requirements and filing costs may vary according to the respective type.

  • Utility (Non-provisional) Patent

The most common patent type used by many inventors to protect their properties from being used by others is the Utility or Non-provisional Patent. Whenever you invent or create a product, a utility patent is the standard one to go for. The utility patent protects inventions that fall into one of these categories: machines, manufacturers, processes, the composition of matter, and improvements.

Once filed, a utility patent is valid for 20 years and prevents others from making, selling, using, or importing your invention or property without your authorization. Unlike other patents, utility patents require maintenance fees, making them pricier. To obtain a utility patent for your invention, it should be operable and has both beneficial and practical use, without which, getting a patent is not easy.

  • Provisional Patent

Although a provisional patent does not refer to an actual patent, it offers some benefits for the inventors. A provisional patent provides short-term protection of 12 months for your invention with less cost than utility patents. The inventors can test their products during those 12 months and implement the required changes before getting a utility patent.

Products registered under the provisional Patent have a “patent pending” label. If an inventor completes all the refinements within those 12 months, he can convert it into a utility patent. Another benefit of filing a provisional patent is that it has low requirements and provides you with an earlier filing date for your Patent.

  • Design Patent

If you create any visual quality for your brands, such as a shape, design, or whatever, and want to protect them from infringement, you may opt for this design patent. These types of patents are not so common, yet they help to protect your brand identity. The validity of a design patent is up to 14 years, and you can prevent others from using your designs during the effective period.

Design patents cost you less for registration and do not require maintenance fees than a utility patent. Since the appearance of your products has a huge impact on your business identity, design patents help you preserve your legal rights on them. The most popular example of a design patent is the curvy design of the Coca-Cola bottle.

  • Plant Patent

Agriculturalists who invent new varieties of plants through asexual means can opt for this Patent to protect their inventions. Like a utility patent, a plant patent is also valid for 20 years. To obtain a plant patent under the USPTO, the creator must produce new and distinct varieties of plants through asexual reproduction methods such as grafting. Throughout the 20 years of a plant patent, no one can sell the patented plants other than the patent owner.

One exception for a plant patent is that the plant should not be tuber propagated. To successfully register a plant patent, a detailed botanical description of the invented plant is required, which should demonstrate its uniqueness.


To protect the uniqueness of your inventions, you must obtain a patent registered under the USPTO. As mentioned above, different types of patents are available in U.S. law to protect different inventions. Before applying for a patent registration, carefully read the laws specified under each patent type and choose the one essential for your property.

You can either apply for patent registration on your own or seek help from patent attorneys to guide you throughout the registration process to protect your brand identity. I hope this article gives you a clear picture of the types of patents available under U.S. laws.

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