A patent can be classified primarily into three types such as utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Two of the most common types of patents are the utility and design patents. Subject matter for a patent falls under five categories: a process, a machine, a manufacture, a composition of matter, and any new and useful improvement of the above. All three classifications of patents must meet the novelty and non-obviousness criteria for a successful grant of a patent.
A utility patent is awarded to those inventions with a utilitarian purpose or functionality falling under the five categories of patentable subject matter. For example, method/process of wireless power transmission, a catheter, a chemical composition, etc. The validity of a utility patent is for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed, that is, the patentee has the right to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing the invention for upto 20 years.
A design patent is awarded to those inventions with "new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture". For example, a new design of a shoe, a new design of a keyboard, etc. The design patent protects the ornamental and aesthetic aspects of an article of manufacture. It does not protect the functional aspects of the article of manufacture. The validity of a design patent is for 14 years from the date the patent is issued, that is, the patentee has the right to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing the design of the invention for upto 14 years.
A plant patent is awarded to those inventions with asexually reproduced any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. The validity of a plant patent is for 20 years from the date of the patent application.