The Catholic University of America

US Patent Information - Types of Patents

There are three categories of patents:
  • design patents
  • plant patents
  • utility patents

Design Patents

Design patents are granted to any person who has invented a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. The appearance of the article is protected. A design patent has a term of 14 years.

Plant Patents

Plant patents are granted to any person who has invented or discovered an asexually reproduced and distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated spores, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. A plant patent has a term of 20 years from the application date.

Utility Patents

Utility patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or compositions of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof. "Process" means a process or method. "Manufacture" refers to any articles which are made by the hand of man. "Composition of matter" relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. A Utility patent has a term of 20 years from the application date.