In 1790, the first U.S. patent law was enacted. Since that time, there have been a significant number of patents which have been applied for and issued. In 2016 alone, for example, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued 303,051 patents. In addition to patents, there are other ways that intellectual property can be protected. These are copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. This article, however, will provide a brief overview of patents.
When an individual, team, or another enterprise applies for an invention patent, for example, it needs to meet specific criteria in order to be awarded. These criteria include usefulness, novelty, and non-obviousness. According to the USPTO, there are three different types of patents:
- Utility patents
- Design patents
- Plant patents
Utility patents are issued more regularly than any other types of patents. The USPTO reported that approximately 90% of the documents that they receive are