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Utility Patent


A utility patent is a legal protection granted to an inventor for a new, original, and useful invention in some field of technology or process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. This type of patent provides its holder exclusive rights to produce, sell, and use the invention for a period typically of 20 years from the filing date. The utility patent is the most common type of patent filed.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Utility Patent” is: yoo-til-i-tee pay-tuhnt.

Key Takeaways

Main Takeaways about Utility Patent:

  1. Unique Functionality: The primary purpose of a Utility Patent is to protect new and useful inventions. This can relate to either a process, a machine, a product manufacturing methodology, or a tangible improvement on existing invents. The patent essentially gives exclusive rights to the inventors to use and profit from their creations.

  2. Temporary Ownership: Utility patents are not permanent; they last for 20 years from the filing date of the application. During this period, the patent holder has the exclusive right to use, manufacture, and sell the product or process. After the patent expires, the technology becomes public property.

  3. Protection Scope: The scope of a utility patent is defined by the “claims” of the patent, which specifically describe the components or steps in a process that the inventor argues are novel and deserves patent protection. Careful drafting of the claims is essential to ensure the invention is suitably protected.


A utility patent is an important term in business and finance because it serves as a legal tool that provides protection to inventors, thus promoting innovation and economic growth. The utility patent is essential as it grants the inventor exclusive rights to prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention without authorization for a period of typically 20 years from the application date. This gives inventors a secure environment to recover their investment costs, gain a competitive edge in the market, or license their invention to other parties for monetization. Without the security of a utility patent, businesses and inventors could lose the incentive to invest in new technologies, ultimately hindering progress and development.


A utility patent plays a crucial role in supporting and protecting intellectual property rights within the business and finance domains. The primary purpose of such a patent is to protect the rights of an inventor, thereby providing him/her exclusive control over the invention for a specific period, typically up to 20 years from the filing date. This right of exclusivity can create significant economic advantages, as it allows inventors or businesses to reap the financial benefits of their inventions without worrying about immediate competition. Whether it’s a new machine, a process, or manufactured goods – a utility patent protects the functional aspects of these inventions, steers competition, and also propels further innovation.Meanwhile, utility patents not only safeguard the creators but they also provide structure to industries and markets. They form a barrier against replication or unauthorized use of the patented product, offering a degree of market monopoly to the patent holder. By protecting the inventor’s investment in research and development, such patents encourage more investment in innovation, a key driver of economic growth. Moreover, utility patents could be licensed or sold, offering an additional income stream for businesses. Therefore, despite the high cost and rigorous patenting process, the benefits of utility patents in supporting a competitive business landscape make them a fundamental tool in an enterprise’s strategic portfolio.


1. Smartphone Technology: A well-known example of a utility patent is the smartphone technology developed by Apple when it first introduced the iPhone. The multi-touch interface, the slide-to-unlock feature, and various internal processes that allow the phone to function were all considered innovative at the time and covered under the realm of utility patents. These patents provided Apple with a significant competitive edge in the marketplace.2. Pharmaceutical Drugs: Many pharmaceutical companies own utility patents for their specific drug compositions and manufacturing processes. For instance, Pfizer held the utility patent for the groundbreaking drug, Viagra, for many years. This patent prevented other companies from producing and selling a generic version of the medication using the same formula.3. Machinery Innovations: John Deere, a large manufacturer of agricultural machinery, holds numerous utility patents for its equipment. One of the most prominent is their patent on their unique lawn mowing technology that improves the mower’s cutting ability and its maneuverability, completely changing the user experience. This innovation gave them a distinct advantage over competitors.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Utility Patent?

A utility patent is a type of intellectual property protection that covers the creation of new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.

What differentiates a Utility Patent from other types of patents?

Unlike design patents which cover aesthetic elements, or plant patents which cover plant varieties, utility patents protect the functional aspects of an invention.

How long does a Utility Patent last?

Utility patents typically last for 20 years from the date of filing, provided that maintenance fees are paid every 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years.

What is the process to obtain a Utility Patent?

The process involves preparing a detailed application, including illustrations, and submitting it to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or equivalent organization in other countries. It also requires one or more claims defining the invention, which must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

What are the costs associated with filing a Utility Patent?

Costs can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the invention and the patent attorney’s fees, but typically range from $5,000 to $15,000 or more in the U.S.

Is a Utility Patent valid worldwide?

Each utility patent is only valid in the country where it has been granted. For worldwide protection, applications must be made in each desired country, or regional applications can be made in areas like the European Union.

What happens if a Utility Patent is infringed?

If someone uses the patented invention without permission, the patent holder can sue for infringement, potentially gaining injunctions against further use, and monetary damages.

Can a Utility Patent be sold or licensed?

Yes, a utility patent, like any patent, is an asset. It can be sold, licensed, mortgaged, given away, or even left in a will.

Related Finance Terms

  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Invention Disclosure
  • Patent Filing
  • Patent Protection Period
  • Patent Licensing

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