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Patents: Patents

This guide will provide basic information found online and at Baylor and can offer a good starting place to begin your patent research.

What is a patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.

In principle, the patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner's consent.

The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.

World Intellectual Property Organization

Parts of a patent document

Types of patents

There are 3 types of patents:

Utility Patents: This is a patent that covers the creation of a new or improved — and useful — product, process or machine. A utility patent, also known as a “patent for invention,” prohibits other individuals or companies from making, using or selling the invention without authorization.  This is the most common patent that the USPTO issues.

Types of utility patents include:

  • Machines (e.g. something composed of moving parts, such as stereos or computers)
  • Articles of manufacture (e.g. brooms, candleholders)
  • Processes (e.g. business processes, software)
  • Compositions of matter (e.g. pharmaceuticals)  

Design Patents: While a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), a "design patent" protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171). Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. 

Plant Patents: This is a patent granted by the United States government to an inventor (or the inventor's heirs or assigns) 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.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office




 

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