A patent is a grant by the government of a special right to exclude others from making, using or selling the patented invention for a limited period of time. You can think of a patent kind of like a fence, where your invention is your property and the patent can serve as a "fence" around that property to keep others out.
In the US, there are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant. Utility is the most common type of patent and covers physical products, processes and methods, software, and chemical compounds. Design patents protect the ornamental appearance of an object and can be used to protect the aesthetic design of physical products and also can be used to protect the graphical user interface (UI/UX) aspects of software and mobile apps.
Utility and design patents cover almost all inventions. Within utility patent applications there are provisional and non-provisional applications.
Types of patents
There are three main types of patent applications: Utility, Design, and Plant.
Utility patent applications protect the structural features and functional features of an invention. Utility applications can be filed for inventions that include an article of manufacture (i.e., a thing), a process (i.e., a method of making something or performing a task, which can include software), and a composition of matter (i.e., chemical compounds, pharmaceuticals, etc.).
Utility patent applications come in two types: provisional and non-provisional (or nonprovisional). A provisional patent application (or PPA) is a temporary placeholder application that preserves a filing date and is pending for one year. A non-provisional patent application is an application that will get examined by an examiner and can issue as a patent if allowed by the examiner.
Design patent applications protect the ornamental appearance of an object and can also be used to protect a computer software graphical user interface (GUI).
How much does a patent cost?
The cost of a patent depends on a number of factors, such as type of application, number of drawings needed, and complexity of the invention. To get a detailed estimate for your particular needs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some very rough estimate ranges for the legal or professional fees for each type of application:
- provisional patent application starts at $3,450 + official filing fees
- nonprovisional patent application starts at $5,450 + official filing fees
- design patent application starts at $2,250 + official filing fees
In addition to the professional fees, each application will require official filing fees which can vary based on the fee schedule you qualify for. Here are some example official fee ranges:
- Non-provisional patent application official filing fees $450 – $900
- Provisional patent application filing fees $75-$150
- Design patent application official filing fees $320-$640
How long does a patent last?
Utility patents are in force for 20 years from the filing date.
Design patents are in force for 15 years from the filing date.