The most common type of patent; issued for useful inventions that are new (novel) and that produce results that are not expected by those working in the field of invention (nonobvious). A utility patent lasts for 20 years from the patent application's filing date. (See also: patent, novelty, nonobviousness)
A requirement for obtaining a utility patent. A patented invention must have some functional purpose or utility. The purpose does not have to be groundbreaking; it can be solely for amusement or a minor improvement on an existing invention.
An administrative branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce charged with overseeing and implementing the federal laws on patents and trademarks. This includes examining, issuing, classifying, and maintaining records of all patents and trademarks issued by the United States.
A secondary list of trademarks and service marks maintained by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Supplemental Register provides limited trademark rights and benefits and consists of marks that do not qualify for the Principal Register, usually because they are nondistinctive and consumers do not associate these terms with a specific source. (In trademark terminology, they lack secondary meaning.) Descriptive marks, surnames, and marks consisting primarily of geographical terms are commonly placed on the Supplemental Register. (See also: secondary meaning, Principal Register)
(soo-ee jen-ris) Latin for of its own kind, and used to describe a form of legal protection that exists outside typical legal protections -- that is, something that is unique or different. In intellectual property law, for example, ship hull designs have achieved a unique category of protection and are "sui generis" within copyright law.
A requirement for utility patent rights. To qualify, an invention must fit into at least one of five categories: compositions of matter (compounds such as a drug or glue); articles of manufacture (simple devices such as screwdrivers and rakes); machines (devices with moving parts, such as an auto engine); processes (a method of doing something such as an implant procedure); and new and useful improvements of any of the above categories.
The narrative portion of a patent application that describes the purpose, structure, and operation of the invention, as well as any relevant prior technology (prior art). The specification must provide enough information about the invention so that a person proficient in the field of invention can build and operate it.
Status of a patent applicant that entitles the applicant to pay reduced application, issuance, and maintenance fees. Small entities are any for-profit company with 500 or fewer employees, any nonprofit organization, or an independent inventor.