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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hi everyone, I’m J.D. Houvener, your host of the Bold Today Show, where you, the inventor or entrepreneur, get your daily inspiration so you can go make the world a better place [Music].

I’m honored that you’re here and thank you for your time. This is our frequently asked questions series, and I want you to feel free to contact me directly. Put in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to address any specific question that you have that’s been burning or maybe interested that you’ve talked about with other people and have a hard time understanding about patent law.

Today we’re hitting one of the most important subjects of the entire series: what are the different types of patents that you can get with the US Patent Office? There are three types of patents: one is called a utility patent, the next called a design patent, and the last is called a plant patent. That’s it. There are three types of patents.

So what you probably thought about when you hear utility patents are and what you think of is what most inventors think about, right? They think about the devices, you know, the gears, things you can touch and feel, but it also includes software and methods and processes, right? It covers all the major types of patents that we think of. And what the common thread is that those patents are what they actually have granted rights for are the ability to prevent anyone else from providing novel functionality. Functionality is the key to utility patents. It prevents anyone else from being able to do that: make, use, sell, or import into the US about that functional aspect.

Design patents, okay, this is the second major type of patent, is non-functional and is purely ornamental. So this type of protection covers just what something looks like. So a completely separate type of protection, certainly for many, many inventions that are physical hardware devices, they should be protected both on the functional aspect under utility apps and under design patents because they also have perhaps a novel way of shape and feel. So that’s what design patents are for.

The third and last type of patent is called a plant patent, and these are very specific patents that are covered under the Patent Act that covers a novel plant that’s able to be grown in a lab setting and grafted together and go to produced in sort of a genetically modified process. Plant patents are quite rare, and they’re usually more focused on those types of horticulture that can be grown by non-seed format.

So if you have more questions about utility, design, or plant patents, please visit us on our website at and feel free to give us a call.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at