A utility patent applies to inventions which have a “functional” aspect (in other words, the invention accomplishes a utilitarian result — it actually “does” something).In other words, the thing which is different or “special” about the invention must be for a functional purpose.To be eligible for utility patent protection, an invention must also fall within at least one of the following “statutory categories” as required under 35 USC 101. Keep in mind that just about any physical, functional invention will fall into at least one of these categories, so you need not be concerned with which category best describes your invention.
A) Machine: think of a “machine” as something which accomplishes a task due to the interaction of its physical parts, such as a can opener, an automobile engine, a fax machine, etc.It is the combination and interconnection of these physical parts with which we are concerned and which are protected by the patent.
B) Article of manufacture: “articles of manufacture” should be thought of as things which accomplish a task just like a machine, but without the interaction of various physical parts.While articles of manufacture and machines may seem to be similar in many instances, you can distinguish the two by InventHelp of articles of manufacture as more simplistic things which typically have no moving parts. A paper clip, for example is an article of manufacture.It accomplishes a task (holding papers together), but is clearly not a “machine” since it is a simple InventHelp which does not rely on the interaction of various parts.
C) Process: a way of doing something through one or more steps, each step interacting in some way with a physical element, is known as a “process.” A process can be a new method of manufacturing a known product or can even be a new use for a known product. Board games are typically InventHelp as a process.
D) Composition of matter: typically chemical compositions such as pharmaceuticals, mixtures, or compounds such as soap, concrete, paint, plastic, and the like can be patented as “compositions of matter.” Food items and recipes are often protected in this manner.
A design patent protects the “ornamental appearance” of an object, rather than its “utility” or function, which is protected by a utility patent. In other words, if the invention is a useful object that has a novel shape or overall appearance, a design patent might provide the appropriate protection. To avoid infringement, a copier would have to produce a version that does not look “substantially similar to the ordinary observer.”They cannot copy the shape and overall appearance without infringing the design patent.