What is a utility patent?

What is a utility patent?

A utility patent is a patent that protects the functions and features of a new or improved—and useful—technology.

A utility patent prohibits other individuals or companies from making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or exporting the invention without authorization. Most of the time, the word “patent” is a reference to a utility patent.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues utility patents.

There are several ways to file a utility patent application in the US:

  • Direct Filed Application: This is the first patent application related to this invention.

  • From a Provisional Application: You can file a provisional patent application before filing a utility patent application. You must file the utility patent application within one year of the original filing date.

  • From a Foreign Application: You can file a patent application directly with another country. Within one year, you can file with the USPTO.

  • As a Divisional or Continuation Application: Once you have filed a first utility patent application, you can file one or more additional utility applications, covering different aspects of your invention. You can only change the claims.

  • As a Continuation-in-Part (CIP) Application: In this case, you file a first utility patent application, and then add/change text or drawings for the CIP application.

  • As a National-Stage Application: After filing an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), you enter the national stage of the application process by filing in the US.

Most of these different types of utility applications are available in other countries, except for the CIP application, which is US only.

If you have additional questions regarding utility patents, the patent process, or anything else, contact us here.


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