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PATENT TUTORIALS: Basics of PATENTS: Types of Patents, Patent Searches & Patent Application

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Why is a Patent search required?

There are many reasons to perform a patent search. The most obvious reason to perform the patent search is to know if the invention can be patented or has been already patented. The other reasons for performing a patent search are listed below:

  1. To make the concept clear of how the application and patent is designed and to use the idea to prepare your own patent application.
  2. To acquire knowledge about a new subject matter.
  3. To attain information about market.
  4. To track the competitor and the patent technology used by him.

Explanations of types of Patents

  • Invention of a Patent – The innovation of an unconventional, non obvious and useful object, device, composition or a process defines ‘invention of a patent’.
  • Application of a Patent – The detailed description of an invention demonstrated in a printed document which is to be submitted to a Patent Office to secure a patent on the invention.
  • Patent – The government assigns the license of ownership to the inventor that gives him the claim to debar others from making, using or selling the claimed invention.
  • Reduction to Practice – The detailed description of making and using the invention compactly.
  • Prior Art – Prior art constitutes all information that has been made available to the public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent’s claims of originality. If an invention has been described in the prior art, a patent on that invention is not valid.


The patents are differentiated on the basis of their nature of invention. They are broadly classified into three types:

  1. Utility Patents – The inventor inventing any unconventional object, device, composition or process can have utility patent.
  2. Design Patents – The inventor inventing any new ornamental design of an article of manufacture can have design patent.
  3. Plant Patents – The inventor inventing or discovering a new variety of plant by reproducing it asexually can have plant patent.

Patentable Inventions

Inventions of Utility – The utility patents are classified into five legal classes:

  1. Processes which include conventional process i.e. making of an article, and software processes.
  2. Machines which include conventional machines (machines with moveable parts) and software machines.
  3. Manufactured Products which include articles with non movable parts.
  4. Compositions of Matter which include chemicals, alloys and pharmaceuticals.
  5. The new changes in the above mentioned inventions.

The invention must be useful. The invention must be original that has its own valuable features and has never been seen before. The invention should be noticeable to the skilled people of the area of invention.

  • Inventions of Design
  • Invention of Asexually Reproducible Plants

Non-Patentable Inventions

  • Changed size, shape, or form.
  • Adjustability.
  • Natural Laws
  • Brief Ideas
  • Seniority over Secondary
  • Usage of old Art
  • Deduction of Parts
  • Musical and Dramatic works
  • Inventions made for illegal purposes
  • Inventions made against law of nature

Fictions related to Patents

  • Valuable Patents

This is not true as the patents have monetary value only, that is also when they are used to protect the patent’s claim by excluding others from making, using or selling the invention.

  • Government verified Patents

This is not true as the patents are not verified by the government. The government is not involved in seeing whether the patent will work or not. 

  • Provisional Patent

This is not true as the term ‘Provisional Patent’ does not exist. A provisional application can be filed in most jurisdictions, which provides a date for priority placeholder. If the filing of full application is not done within one year, the priority date is lost. 

  • Just the idea is described in the Provisional Application

This is not true as full disclosure is required for filing the provisional application and the information should also be detailed in the application. The formal structure, the disclosure and the claims of the full application are not required by the provisional application.

  • Patent for an Idea

This is not true as patent is not obtained for an idea or just a suggestion. Patents are granted to those who invent or discover a new and useful object, device, composition or a process, or make any useful improvement. Complete and enabling disclosure is also required. 

  • The owner is given the exclusive rights to make, use and sell the invention

This is not true as the owner is given the right to exclude others from making, using and selling the patent’s claims. An inventor having broader claims in a prior patent can prevent the inventor, with narrow claims from using the inventor’s own patent. 

  • Honoring US Patent worldwide

This is not true as US patent is enforced only in US. The US inventor can stop from importing what is covered in US, but the inventor is free to make, use and sell the invention in any country. 

  • Infringement of Patent is a Crime

This is not true as a patent in combination with a legal opinion will only give the right to sue in a civil case against the alleged offender. Infringement of a patent is not a crime. For enforcing the rights the responsibility is granted by a patent and it is in the hands of the patent owner. 

Patent Classification

Patent Classification helps in categorizing an invention. It is characteristically expressed as “482/1”. The class of the invention is expressed by 482. The following number is the subclass. In the USPC there are 450 classes and 150000 subclasses. Short descriptions are provided by the titles of classes and sub classes. For classification process, the patents are always classified under sub class level. Each patent and published application is assigned to one or more classification.

Importance of Patent Classification

  • Used as a tool to search patents.
  • For assisting the patent application to examiner for examination process.
  • Have definitions.
  • Have relationships with one another.

Keywords: patent application, US Patent and Trademark Office, provisional application, non provisional application, foreign patents, patent search, patent application, types of patents, unconventional products, patent application, detailed description of a patent, utility patents, design patents, plant patents, ornamental design, utility inventions, design inventions, plant inventions, conventional process, conventional machines, manufactured products, compositions of matter, valuable patents, patentable, adjustability, natural laws, illegal purposes, law of nature, patent classification, classes, sub classes, patent titles, published patent application, patent classification, patent search, patent examination process, comprehensive patents.

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Contributors: Prity Khastgir and Rahul Dev 

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