Examples of Patents

By Lee Grayson

President George Washington signed the first American patent granted to Samuel Hopkins in 1790 for a product used to manufacture fertilizer. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office now recognizes more than six million patents. A legal patent protects the use of the invention by other Americans and residents of countries recognizing international patent laws.

Patent Process

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), under direction of the Department of Commerce, registers patents for inventions and improvements on inventions. Common processes and general ideas cannot be patented. To register a patent, the inventor must submit a process, article, method, composition, plant or machine that is novel, has some utility or function and has a non-obvious quality to experts in the inventor's field. Inventors must obtain a patent within one year of the initial disclosure of the invention or others can freely use the invention without permission or payment to the inventor.

Design Patents

Most patents assigned by the USPTO come under the heading of design patents. Inventors need not show the invention has any utility when applying for a design patent. This patent category requires only that the object display unique visual characteristics and it must display the design features during use. The USPTO recognized 33 classifications of design patents as of 2012, including edible products, clothing and apparel, household furnishings, tools and hardware, and packages and containers for goods produced for manufacture or sale. Jewelry, photography and optical equipment, games, toys, sporting goods and cosmetics also qualify for design patents. Household items such as washing machines and dryers, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment come within the guidelines of this patent category, as do musical instruments and office supplies, teaching and art materials and fishing equipment.

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Plant Patents

Plant patents provide protection to gardeners, plant breeders and growers working to invent or discover cultivated plants, including plants "which are stable and reproduced by asexual reproduction." The patent process for plants requires the inventor to show stability of the plant, and he must take the time to create clones of the plant to demonstrate that the copy has the same characteristics as the original plant. Patent law protects seedlings, hybrids and mutant plants. Examples of plant patents include root cuttings, runners, tissue culture, some seeds, plant layering and plant division. Macro fungi and algae also qualify for this type of patent protection.

Utility Patents

Inventions that use a process or have unique composition of matter qualify for utility patents. Examples of process patents include a copy machine and an ingredient to speed concrete drying. Apparatuses and products also fall under this patent category. A well-known patent demonstrating an apparatus is the artificial heart valve. The microwave clothes dryer holds a utility patent since the microwaving process qualifies as a utility for the manner in which the machine dries clothes, as opposed to the exterior style and decoration of a clothes dryer that holds a design patent. Objects often hold more than one patent protection. Examples of other utility patents include the working components of cell phones, televisions and digital recorders.

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How to Cite a Patent Application

A patent is a type of intellectual property right granted by the U.S. government. Patents allow inventors to prevent other people from copying or using their invention without compensation. Each patent is given a unique number by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If you are a researcher, lawyer or journalist, it may be necessary for you to cite patents in your work. The exact method for citation that you use will depend on where you are citing the patent. Different methods are used for legal citations, scientific citations and journalism.

How to Apply for a Patent for a Recipe

Patenting a recipe can be a confusing process, if you don't understand the patent criteria for food compositions. A great recipe is only patentable under very narrow circumstances. The recipe must be useful, novel and non-obvious. This three-prong test means that the greatest recipe in the world is not patentable unless it involves a food formulation or application that has not been used before and cannot be intuited by a cook merely tasting the final product. The recipe must also be new and cannot be an old family recipe or something that was cooked for the public in the past, because an inventor has a limited window of time to patent an invention before it becomes available to the public domain.

How to Get a Play Copyrighted

A play qualifies for copyright protection, typically as a literary work and performing art. However, several broad copyright categories apply to plays, such as literary work, dramatic work, choreographed work, musical compositions, sound recordings, motion pictures, pictorial, graphic and sculptural work and even architectural work. The playwright automatically secures basic copyright in the script once it's fixed in a tangible form. These include paper manuscripts, electronic document files, recorded live performances and published short or full length plays. A playwright should also apply for federal copyright registration as soon as possible. This optional registration provides many benefits, including exclusive ownership and publication rights of a play.

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