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An Overview of the Patent System

Learn about the process for obtaining patent protection, including the basic quid pro quo of applicant disclosure in exchange for rights, different types of patents, and the parts of a patent application.


The process for obtaining patent rights is rigorous. On average, applicants spend about four years prosecuting their applications before the PTO. And an estimated 25 percent of applications never mature into issued patents.

I.              Types of Patents

The three types of patents an applicant can obtain from the PTO are design patents, plant patents, and utility patents.

Design patents are available to inventors of new and...