A patent is a type of intellectual property. It is an invention that is granted as a property right to the inventor. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States. There are three types of patents: (1) Utility, covering function; (2) Design, covering ornamental design; and (3) Plant, for a new variety of plant.
Types of Patents
There are three types of patents:
Plant - A new variety of plant (e.g. a tomato)
Design - Appearance / ornamental design
Utility - Function. 90% of patents filed are for utility
Patent Process Overview
Is your patent patentable? It must be novel, useful, and non-obvious. Look at "Prior art"
What type of patent do you need?
Submit your application
Work with a patent examiner
Receive approval or rejection (typically within 3 years of filing)
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database includes full-page images beginning with the first U.S. patent issued in 1790. Issued patents starting from 1976 and patent applications are fully searchable. Patents issued between 1790 and 1975 are only searchable by the patent number or current U.S. classification.
The espacenet system is a searchable collection of of patent documents published around the world. English-language abstracts are usually available from 1970. Full text documents are provided if available.
PatentsView is a patent data visualization and analysis tool intended to increase the value, utility, and transparency of US patent data. For example, you can see all of the patents for which Yale University is the assignee along with which patents are most frequently cited, top inventors, etc. Try a search for "Yale University" in the assignee field.