Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Federal Government Depository

What is a patent?

A patent is a property right granted by the government of the United States to an inventor to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States for a limited time, in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

What types of patents are there?

  • Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new, useful and nonobvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter (pharmaceuticals, genetically engineered materials), or any new and useful improvement thereof.
  • Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
  • Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

What cannot be patented?

  • Laws of nature
  • Physical phenomena
  • Abstract ideas
  • Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (see copyright above)
  • Inventions which are not useful or offensive to the public morality