Utility Patent Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Utility Patent, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Utility Patent?

Legal protection granted to defend an invention’s function. Refer to the definition of design patent.

History and Meaning of Utility Patent

Utility patents are one type of patent protection granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to inventors of new, useful and non-obvious processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof. The term utility patent is derived from the purpose of protecting functional or useful inventions.

In the United States, the concept of patents for products dates back to 1790, when Congress first passed the Patent Act. Utility patents cover a broad range of inventions and are intended to offer strong, exclusive rights to inventors to prevent others from making, using, or selling their inventions for a period of up to 20 years from the application filing date.

Examples of Utility Patent

  1. Amazon's one-click online purchasing system
  2. Apple's method for unlocking a smartphone using a touchscreen
  3. Google's page ranking algorithm
  4. Pfizer's Viagra™ formula
  5. Tesla's electric motor design

Legal Terms Similar to Utility Patent

  1. Design patent - A legal protection granted to defend the ornamental features of an invention's appearance.
  2. Plant patent - A legal protection granted to plant breeders for a new variety of asexually reproduced plant.
  3. Provisional patent application - A type of patent application that allows inventors to establish a priority date for their inventions while they continue to develop them.