We've talked about patents quite a bit on this blog in the past few months, and for good reason. These vital legal protections allow businesses to operate without fearing that their novel inventions are being copied by other businesses. However, patents aren't a one-size-fits-all application. There are actually three different types of patents, and today we're going to talk about these classes of patents.
The first two classes to understand are "utility" patents and "design" patents. Utility patents apply to any invention or discovery that bring a useful process, machine, manufacturing process, or new composition of matter. Each of these things (process, machine, etc.) has it's own specific definition, so if you are applying for a utility patent, make sure your invention or discovery meets this definition.
Design patents applies to overall "look" of a manufactured object. The visual characteristics, physical configurations and details of the object can be protected under a design patent.
Now, design and utility patents can both be applied to a certain invention, process or discovery -- they just cover different aspects of the invention, process or discovery.
A "plant" patent is the third class of patent, and it protects newly discovered and grown plants. Again, strict definitions and guidelines apply to this patent, so you need to make sure that your new plant (and the way you discovered it) fit the guidelines.
For any of these patents, make sure that you have (or your business has) an attorney so that you can be sure your patent application is being handled appropriately.
Source: FindLaw, "Types of Patents," Accessed Dec. 24, 2015