A utility patent arguably offers the strongest protection of all the various intellectual properties, i.e., copyright, trademark, trade secret, trade dress, etc.
This type of patent may be filed on inventions that have not been described in a publication or offered for sale more than one year before the patent application filing date. Typical inventive subjects protected are: devices, apparatus, chemical combinations, molecular structures, methods of manufacture, business methods, electrical circuits, information systems, and algorithems.
Typical preparation time is four to six weeks and time to first review at the Patent Office ranges from one to several years depending on the subject; with three years now the average. During the patent pending period one may place a copycat on legal notice and receive royalties from that date once the patent issues, assuming that copycat sales would have infringed the patent.
- Patent prosecution at the Patent Office can be accelerated if one of the inventors is at least
65 years old at the time of filing.
- Utility patents have a term of 20 years from the filing date and may not be renewed or extended.
- Maintenance fees must be paid at 4, 8 and 12 years.