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Utility Patents

What is a utility patent?

  • A utility patent is a grant from the government of the right to exclude others from making, selling, or using the claimed group of functional features of an invention for a period of 20 years from the date the patent application was filed. ¬†Utility patents generally protect the way something works as opposed to the ornamental way an object looks.
  • The owner of a utility patent must pay maintenance fees throughout the life of the utility patent in order to keep the patent enforceable. The first maintenance fee must be paid after the third year and prior to the expiration of the 3-1/2 year period from the issuance of the patent. The second fee must be paid after the seventh year and prior to the expiration of the 7-1/2 year period from the issuance of the patent. The third fee must be paid after the eleventh year and prior to the 11-1/2 year period from the issuance of the patent. There is a six-month grace period for each of these payments, with a penalty imposed, of course.