|A U.S. patent application is filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in order
to obtain a grant of a patent for the invention described and claimed. For example, a U.S.
patent confers to the patent owner "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering
for sale or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into
the United States" and its territories and possessions.
Types of Patent Applications
Non-Provisional Patent Application
A non-provisional patent application (also known as a utility patent application) is filed in
order to obtain a utility patent. A utility patent protects the way an invention is used and
works. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new and useful method,
process, machine, device, manufactured item, or chemical compound - or any new and useful
improvement to the same. The term of a utility patent shall be 20 years from the date on
which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, if the application
contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or
365(c), from the date of the earliest such application was filed, and subject to the payment of
maintenance fees as provided by law.
Provisional Patent Application
A provisional application for patent (also known as a provisional application) is a U. S.
national application for patent filed in the USPTO under 35 U.S.C. § 111(a). It allows filing
without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art)
statement. It provides the means to establish an early effective filing date in a later-filed
non-provisional patent application filed under 35 U.S.C. § 111(a). It also allows the term
"Patent Pending" to be applied in connection with the description of the invention.
A provisional application has a pendency lasting 12 months from the date the provisional
application is filed. The 12-month pendency period cannot be extended. Therefore, an
applicant who files a provisional application must file a corresponding non-provisional
patent application during the 12-month pendency period of the provisional application in
order to benefit from the earlier filing of the provisional application. In accordance with 35
U.S.C. § 119(e), the corresponding non-provisional application must contain or be amended
to contain a specific reference to the provisional application within the time period and in the
manner required by 37 CFR 1.78.
Design Patent Application
A design patent protects the ornamental features of an article of manufacture. For example,
the subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of
an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of
configuration and surface ornamentation. A design for surface ornamentation is inseparable
from the article to which it is applied and cannot exist alone. It must be a definite pattern of
surface ornamentation, applied to an article of manufacture.
Plant Patent Application
A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor who has invented or discovered
and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated
plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. The grant, which lasts for 20 years from the
date of filing the application, protects the inventor's right to exclude others from asexually
reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced.