Intellectual property is usually quite complex. Did you know that there are actually different types of patents? The two most common are the utility patent and the design patent. So, what are the differences between the two?

What is a patent?

First, what is a patent? The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a patent for an invention as a grant of property rights to the inventor. It gives the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention. But, this must be forced by the patentee.

What is a utility patent?

According to the United State Patent and Trademark Office, a utility patent is granted to anyone that invents or discovers any useful and new process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter. This type of patent lasts up to 20 years, but keep in mind that you might be required to pay maintenance fees over time. The utility patent is the most issued patent and some examples include stereos, computers, software, candleholders and more. The item must be useful and have a practical purpose, not just be used for decoration.

What is a design patent?

Defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a design patents is granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Even though it is not as common as the utility patent, it is easier to obtain. But, this patent is only good for 15 years, however, you do not need to pay maintenance fees.

If you are thinking of applying for a patent, you should always discuss things with a trusted Phoenix patent attorney before making any decisions. Legal advice is very valuable during the patent application and you want to make the process go as smoothly as possible.