Types of Patents
What is a patent? There are four distinct types of ideas that can be patented: utility, design, plant and provisional.
A utility patent is granted for mechanical inventions that serve specific functions. The design of the mechanical component is the patentable idea for this type.
A design patent provides protection for the aesthetics applied to a specific item. Design patents are different than trademarks. trademarked designed can be applied in a wide range of situations, whereas design patents only apply when used on a specified item. For example, a brand logo for a skateboard company would require a trademark for protection, but a unique design on a specific model of skateboard would require a design patent.
Plant patents are granted to horticulturalists who devise new hybrid or mutant plant species. Artificially-crafted plant species must fall into strict categories to be eligible for a patent.
Provisional patents provide temporary protection for any of the three types listed above. Provisional patents are good for one year, and can be ideal for patenting ideas that are still in works, which are likely to be shared among external stakeholders during the planning phase. Obtaining a patent for an idea early in the planning stage can protect you from competitors' stealing your idea.