15 Tips: What is a Utility Patent?

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15 Tips: What is a Utility Patent?

According to discussions on the same over at runrex.com, the utility patent is the most common kind of patent issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Therefore, when people discuss patents in the US, they are usually referring to utility patents. If you would like to know more about what a utility patent is about, then this article through the following 15 tips will attempt to help you do just that.

  • What is a utility patent?

The first thing we are going to do is define what a utility patent is. As explained over at guttulus.com, a utility patent is available for an invention or discovery of a new and useful machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or process. Utility patents are also available for improvements to a machine, manufacture, composition, or process considered to be new and useful.

  • What is meant by the terms “machine”, “composition”, “manufacture”, and “process”?

From the definition, you may be wondering what the terms used mean. According to runrex.com, a “machine” includes anything that is generally considered to be a machine, like a tractor or a computer. A “composition of matter” on the other hand is a chemical composition that can include new chemical compounds and mixtures of ingredients. A “manufacture” refers to goods which are made or manufactured. And finally, a “process” is an act or method of doing something, primarily using industrial or technical processes.

  • Utility patents and cost

While a utility patent is one of the most valuable forms of intellectual property, it comes at a huge price. This is because, as revealed in discussions on the same over at guttulus.com, utility patents for simple inventions can cost a few thousand dollars, with utility patents for complex technologies costing tens of thousands.

  • How long does a utility patent last?

From discussions over at runrex.com, a utility patent usually lasts for 20 years from its earliest effective filing date, as long as the required maintenance fees are paid to the USPTO to keep the patent in force. However, it is important to note that the actual term of a utility patent can be shorter or longer depending on developments occurring during the prosecution, the status of related patent filings, or the length of the time it took for the USPTO to process and grant the patent application.

  • How can I obtain a utility patent?

To obtain a utility patent, you will first need to ensure that your invention is patentable, which means it must be novel, useful, non-obvious, and not previously disclosed. Then, you will have to file a utility patent application with the USPTO.

There are several ways to file a utility patent application, which are covered in the following 7 tips.

Types of utility patent application

  • Direct filed application

As the subject matter experts over at guttulus.com are quick to point out, a utility patent application can arise in several ways, one of which is through a direct filed application. This means that this is the first utility patent application related to a particular invention.

  • From a provisional application

A utility patent application can also arise from a provisional application. As is explained over at runrex.com, if you first filed a provisional application for your invention, you must file the utility patent application within one year of filing the provisional application to assert the filing date of the provisional application as the priority date for your utility patent application.

  • From a foreign application

Also, if you first filed a utility patent application directly with a foreign country, you must file the utility patent application in the US within one year of filing the foreign application if you want to assert the filing date of the foreign application as the priority date for the utility patent application as per discussions over at guttulus.com.

  • As a divisional application

According to runrex.com, if you filed a first utility patent application in which the USPTO asserted that you were pursuing two or more inventions in the same application, you may have to choose one invention to pursue in your first utility patent application. Once you make your choice on which invention you will pursue during the pendency of the first utility application, you can proceed to file a second utility patent application with claims directed to the nonelected invention(s), asserting a continuing relationship with the first application. This means that the second application will have an identical specification to the first application.

  • As a continuation application

Also, once you have filed a first utility patent application, during the pendency of that application, you can file a second utility patent application asserting a continuing relationship with the first application. The second utility patent application will, therefore, have an identical specification to the first application.

  • As a continuation-in-part (CIP) application

As explained over at guttulus.com, if you have filed a first utility patent application, during the pendency of that first application, you can file a second utility patent application having a specification that includes all or some of the specification of the first utility application plus additional material that was not included in the first utility patent application.

  • As a national-stage application

Also known as a 371 application from discussions over at runrex.com, here, if you filed a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application, you can file a “national phase” utility patent application at the USPTO within 30 months from the priority date of the PCT application. This also means that the national phase application will have an identical specification to the PCT application.

These are the different types of utility patent applications that you should be aware of.

  • Can I sell my invention or product once I have a utility patent?

According to the gurus over at guttulus.com, contrary to popular belief, a utility patent doesn’t convey the power to make, use, or sell an invention. What a utility patent does is grant you the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling your patented invention. 

  • What do you do if you want to sell your invention?

Given that the point above asserts that a utility patent doesn’t convey the power to make, use, or sell an invention, you may be wondering what to do to sell your invention. Well, to determine whether you can make, use, or sell your invention, you need to ask your patent attorney to conduct a freedom-to-operate analysis.

  • Parts of a utility patent

 It is also important to point out that a typical utility patent includes an abstract, drawings when necessary, a descriptive specification of your invention, as well as a numbered listing of claims, and so forth as explained in more detail over at runrex.com.

Hopefully, the above tips will help you understand what utility patents are, with more information on this and other related topics to be found over at the excellent runrex.com and guttulus.com.