What is a patent and who can apply for it?

The patent it's a right granted by the government to a person or to a legal entity (partnership or corporation)
The patent gives its holder the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention "claimed" in the patent deer for approximately 17 to 18 years, provided certain fees are paid.
Anyone can apply for a patent, regardless of age, nationality, mental competency, incarceration, or any other characteristic, so long as he or she is a true inventor of the invention.
A patent is a form of personal property and can be sold outright for a lump sum, or its owner can give anyone permission to use the invention covered in return for royalty payments.

Types of patents.

Utility patents
cover inventions that function in a unique manner to produce a utilitarian result. Examples of utility inventions are Velcro hook-and-loop fasteners, new drugs, electronic circuits, software, semiconductors manufacturing processes, new bacteria, new animals, plants, automatic transmission, and virtually anything else under the sum that can be made by humans. To get a utility patent, one must file a patent application that consists of a detailed description telling how to make and use the invention, together with claims that define the invention, drawings of the invention, formal paperwork, and a filing fee.

Design patents
covers the unique, ornamental or visible shape or design of an object, even if only on a computer screen. Thus if a lamp, a building, a computer case, or a desk has a truly unique shape, its design can be design patented. Even computer screen icons can be patented. However, the uniqueness of the shape must be purely ornamental or aesthetic; if it is functional, then only a utility patent is proper, even if it is also aesthetic. A good example is a jet plane with a constricted waist for reducing turbulence at supersonic speeds: although the shape is attractive, its functionality makes it suitable only for a utility patent.

A useful way to distinguish between a design and a utility invention is to ask, "Will removing or smoothing out the novel features substantially impair the function of the device?" If so--as in the jet plane with the narrowed waist--this proves that the novel features have a significant functional purpose, so a utility patent is indicated. If not--as in a woodshop wall clock that is shaped like a circular saw blade, or a phone that is shaped like a shoe--a design patent is indicated. Another useful question to ask is, "Is the novel feature(s) there for structural or functional reasons, or only for the purpose of ornamentation?"
The design patent application must consist primarily of drawings, along with formal paperwork and a filing fee.

Plant patent
covers asexually reproducible plants (that is, through the use of grafts and cuttings), such as flowers. Sexually reproducible plants (that is, those that use pollination), can be monopolized under the Plant Variety Protection Act. Both sexually and asexually reproducible plants can now also be monopolized by utility patent.



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