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What is a Utility Patent?

Utility patents protect “new, nonobvious and useful” articles of manufacture, compositions of matter, processes, machines, and some relevant improvements. In the United States, utility patents are the most common type of patent. Therefore, when people refer to the term “patent,” they are typically referring to utility patents.

The patent prohibits third parties from making, using, or profiting off of a certain invention without proper authorization. In other words, utility patents give inventors exclusive rights to produce and use a particular invention or creation. 

Key Takeaways

  • According to U.S. federal law, utility patents protect “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”
  • The most common type of patent in the United States is a utility patent.
  • In most cases, utility patents remain valid for 20 years beginning with the date the patent application was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Filing a Utility Patent Application

In order to obtain federal protection for your invention or creation, you will need to submit an official patent application with the USPTO. This process can be costly and complicated, especially if you attempt to file your application without proper legal representation. Working with a professional intellectual property attorney can help ensure that the patent application process is conducted correctly and efficiently. 

Here is a brief overview of how obtaining a utility patent works:

  1. Conduct a patent search - According to U.S. law, utility patents must be considered “new.” This is what makes patent searches so important, as they ensure your invention is original and has not been done before.
  2. Prepare your application - Once you have made sure your invention is the first of its kind, it’s time to file a patent application. The process involves a number of critical components, so it is recommended that you complete your application with the help of a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney.
  3. Respond to the examiner - Generally, you will receive at least one rejection from the USPTO’s patent examiner before your invention is finally approved. It is important to make the necessary amendments and modifications before moving forward with the application process.
  4. Receive a notice of allowance - If the patent examiner decides that your invention is worthy of federal protection, you will receive a Notice of Allowance for your utility patent. 
  5. Pay relevant fees - Receiving a notice of allowance does not mean that your patent is officially registered. In order to obtain a utility patent, filing fees must be paid within three months of receiving a notice of allowance.

Bottom Line

A utility patent is a valuable asset to any company or individual. However, in turn, they can be challenging to obtain. Utility patent applications are full of complex legal language, which can make the entire process time consuming and frustrating.

Working with a skilled patent attorney is the best way to reduce stress and improve efficiency throughout the patent application process. Consult with one of our top tier lawyers today at Attorney at Law.

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