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Types Of Patents In The US

Patents protect the discoveries and inventions, which are novel, non-obvious, and useful. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues three types of patents, namely utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The eligibility criteria for these patents vary as they protect a specific type of invention. However, a single invention can have more than one type of Patent Protection available for it. For instance, if an individual wants to protect not only the design but also the functional features of the invention, then he would have to file two Patent Applications (for a design and utility patent).


According to the USPTO, a utility patent is the most common type of patent that people seek, and 90 percent of the patents are utility patents. This type of patent covers machines, processes, compositions of matter, and manufactures, which are non-obvious, new, and useful. Processes refer to the technical or industrial processes involving new methods of doing something. Compositions of matter are chemical compositions involving new chemical compounds or a mixture of ingredients. Machines include things like a computer, whereas manufactures include manufactured products or items.

Protection for utility patents is available for 20 years from the date of application. In addition to the initial fee paid at the time of patent filing, the owners must submit a maintenance fee throughout the life of the patent to ensure its protection. Extensions in the term of patent protection are available for the owners who wish to protect their inventions beyond the 20-year mark. However, they are only available in certain circumstances and for specific utility patents.

Utility patents help in preventing unauthorized users from manufacturing, selling, distributing, or using your invention. Additionally, once you have filed the patent application for a utility patent, its immediate status would change to “patent-pending,” which will further act as a disclaimer until the patent is formally issued.


A design patent protects the aesthetic and ornamental appearance of an object. Protection of the design patents is available for the appearance, shape, configuration, or general ornamentation of an object. Design patents can prevent others from manufacturing, selling, or using the appearance of your product or object. For obtaining this type of protection, it is imperative to note that the design must be inseparable from the object. However, the design patent shall only protect the design and not the object. For protecting the structural or functional elements of an object, a person must file for a utility patent as well.

Protection of design patents is valid for 14 years from the date of application, and unlike utility patents, no maintenance fee is associated with design patents.


Plant patents protect the invention of asexually reproduced plants. They require asexual reproduction for proving the fact that the applicant can reproduce the plant. For obtaining this type of patent protection, the plant must not be a tuber propagated plant, i.e., an Irish potato. Additionally, the plant must not be uncultivated. Plant patents, like the utility and design patents, must also be novel, and non-obvious. Protection for plant patents is available for 20 years that doesn’t include any maintenance fee. Hybrids, sports, and mutants are a few examples that own the plant patents.

TemperPack Obtains Patent for Advanced Packaging Technology

TemperPack, a leading manufacturer and engineer of sustainable insulated packaging solutions, has been recently awarded a patent for an advanced protective and thermal packaging material made from bonded polysaccharide particles by the US Patent Office. The granted patent is the first related to ClimaCell, which is the company’s most advanced and latest material introduced to the market last year.

ClimaCell is the first certified packaging material, which matches the cushioning and thermal properties of expanded polystyrene (EPS). It has also received the designation of “Widely Recyclable” from How2Recycle, a standardized labeling system communicating clear and consistent on-package recycling instructions to the consumers.

James McGoff, the co-CEO of TemperPack, stated the company wanted to design an affordable and widely used material for multiple markets. For fulfilling the same, the company had to come up with a manufacturing platform that would be massively scalable and run on widely available feedstock. The company experimented with hundreds of materials and formulations, namely, shredded kraft and newsprint, nonwoven battings comprising natural, synthetic, and paper fibers, corrugated designs, natural and synthetic extruded foams, thermoformed plastics such as rPET, and more to achieve sustainability at scale.  After several experiments, the company finally landed on the product called ClimaCell. Made from rapidly renewable materials, ClimaCell is known to reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by over 90% as compared to EPS. Additionally, it is moisture-resistant, food-safe, and light-weight.

According to James McGoff, from a market leadership perspective, this patent is a remarkable success for TemperPack as they have already produced millions of units. Moreover, the company is now effectively working with companies in the life sciences and perishable foods space.

Apple Files Patent
Apple Files Patent Application for Mixed-Reality Headset

Apple, an American multinational tech giant, has recently filed a Patent Application for a mixed-reality headset that would offer 3D virtual views of a user’s environment augmented with virtual content. The patent describes the way an augmented reality headset could capture the real world with the help of outward-facing cameras and then present the same to the users on a display system. Apple had first filed this patent application earlier this year in March, but it got published only within the last week.

According to the application filed, the headset device includes a head-mounted display, collection of cameras, sensors that track the wearer’s eyes, and other sensors that track the external environment.  All these components work together to produce and display a virtual 3D image based on the real world. Additionally, there are a lot of potential variations. The headset could also include hand sensors to track position, movement, and gestures; head pose sensors to track the users’ orientation and motion; sensors that capture information about the real-world lighting conditions in detail; eyebrow sensors to track facial expressions; and lower jaw sensors for tracking movement of the mouth and jaw. Apple describes the VR system to be different from most AR glasses, and it could also use LCD or liquid crystal on silicon technology or might as well use a direct retinal projector system that scans left and right images, pixel by pixel, to the subject’s eyes.

As of now, it is not very clear whether Apple is building any product based on this patent or not. According to the rumors coming out of the supply chain, Apple has dropped its plans for the mixed-reality headset. However, the tech giant is yet to comment officially on its headset plans, including when it intends to come up with such a product.