Patent Example: What Is It?

A patent example is a sample of a patent that has already been granted to someone. A patent example is useful for someone who is applying for a patent and wants to know what information is necessary to include in their patent application.

A patent gives inventors the rights to own their inventions. A patent is granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO. Once inventors are granted their patents, they have exclusive, legal protection to own, produce, sell, use, and create their product for 20 years. This term of 20 years of ownership was established because innovation and technology often make a patent obsolete after 20 years or less.

The system of patenting new technology or inventions was developed to encourage people to pursue new ideas. Because a patent gives inventors the rights to their inventions, it also gives them a way to monetize their inventions by either selling the patent or the right to use the new technology or by creating and selling a product themselves. This ability to monetize motivates people to continue to invent new technology and develop new products.

Patents are not the same as trademarks or copyrights. Patents are issued for new inventions in product design, functionality, or production process. Trademarks are for branding rights, and copyrights are for creative innovations such as books, poetry, and music. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights all fall under the category of intellectual property, and litigation for these is included within intellectual property law.

Patent Examples of Different Types of Patents

There are many different types of patents; therefore, there are many different types of patent examples.

Viewing and studying patent examples can help inventors get a sense of what to include on their patent application. It's important to note that each patent application will be unique, and simply studying these examples won't guarantee success on a patent application.

If you're interested in applying for a patent, we recommend consulting with a patent attorney from UpCounsel's marketplace.

Many types of patents exist depending on your needs. Some of these include:

How the Patent Application Process Works

The patent application process can seem complicated to those who haven't yet been through the process. It's simple to hire a patent attorney from UpCounsel to help you through the process if you're concerned about any of the steps described below.

The most important step of the patent application process is filing the patent application. This step is most important to inventors because the filing of the application bestows certain rights upon the inventor. Inventors don't have to wait for the approval of their patent application to receive certain patent protection rights.

Once an inventor has submitted a patent application, they can use the designation "patent pending" on their invention. This term is used to inform others that a patent application has been filed for this invention.

Only the inventor can file a patent application. The patent application will confirm that the person who applied for the patent is the inventor. This is where some patent applications get complicated. If more than one person has applied to patent the same invention, the USPTO has to determine who was the true inventor.

Why Are Patent Examples Important?

Patent examples are important for helping applicants understand what inventions have already been granted a patent and what material is necessary to include on a patent application to improve chances of approval of the patent application.

One of the most important steps of the patent application process is the patent search. A patent search is when an inventor, or someone the inventor has hired, examines all of the pending patent applications and granted patents to make sure that the invention hasn't already been patented.

This search should also examine any patents that have been granted for inventions that are similar. Patents for similar inventions should be examined carefully to determine how to differentiate the new invention to improve the chances of being granted a patent for that invention.

Patents and patent laws are very important as they allow inventors rights and protection against patent infringement. Patent infringement is when someone other than the inventor uses the invention or financially benefits from an invention without the inventor's or patent owner's permission.

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is what gives Congress the power to enact patent laws. Patent laws were most recently revised on November 29, 1999. This most recent alteration of patent laws was called the American Inventors Protection Act.

Provisional Patent Example Versus Patent Example

Before an inventor files a patent application, he or she can and should file a provisional patent application. A provisional patent application is much simpler to put together, and there are many templates that can help guide an inventor in how to do so.

A provisional patent application must include:

  • A written description of the invention
  • A drawing or image that shows what the invention looks like
  • A cover sheet that describes who the inventors are and who is filing the application

A provisional patent doesn't have to include formal drawings or claims. This makes the provisional easier and cheaper for inventors to file. Although claims aren't technically required for a provisional patent, some patent experts believe they are beneficial.

Types of Patents

The USPTO now recognizes more than 6 million patents. A U.S. patent is recognized in the U.S. and by some other countries for international patents.

There are three types of patents:

  • Utility patents
  • Plant patents
  • Design patents

Utility Patents

A utility patent is for any "new and useful" process, manufacturing, machine, or improvement upon these things. Under utility patents are process patents, apparatuses and product patents, and objects, which might hold multiple patents. Examples of inventions that have utility patents are: an ingredient that speeds the drying of concrete, the artificial heart valve, cell phones, and TVs.

Plant Patents

A plant patent is for any new plant that is discovered or created and asexually reproduced. The plant patent offers protection to gardeners, plant breeders, and growers who are working to invent new plants or to discover new plants in the wild. The inventor or discoverer of the plant must show the stability of plant. Macro fungi, tissue cultures, and algae also qualify for protection under this type of patent.

Design Patents

A design patent is for any "new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture." This is the most common type of patent. Most patents given out by the USPTO fall into the design patent category. There are 33 classifications recognized by the USPTO under the design patent category. This includes, but isn't limited to:

  • Edible products
  • Clothing and apparel
  • Household furnishings
  • Tools and hardware
  • Packages and containers
  • Jewelry
  • Photography and optical equipment
  • Games, toys, and sporting goods
  • Cosmetics
  • Household items
  • Musical instruments
  • Office supplies, teaching, and art materials
  • Fishing equipment

Inventions related to nuclear material or atomic energy are not eligible for patenting. As well, "laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas, or a mere idea" aren't eligible for patenting.

Expiration of Patents

In general, a patent has a 20-year lifespan, but this isn't guaranteed. There are a few reasons that a patent can be invalidated by the courts. A patent may also expire if the owner doesn't pay the maintenance fees at the proper times.

Patents aren't indefinite, they do expire. If a utility patent was issued on or after June 8, 1995, it will expire either 17 years from the grant date or 20 years after the first effective filing date, whichever is later. In comparison, design patents expire 14 years after the date that the patent is granted.

If a patent expires or is invalidated, the invention goes into the public domain and is available for use by anyone without the inventor's permission.

Patent Examples With Claims

A patent claim must include enough specific information so that the invention can be differentiated from previous art and patents. The claims must also be clear, logical, and precise.

Claims must follow strict, grammatical requirements. Claims must:

  • Be sentence fragments
  • Always start with a capital letter
  • Contain one period
  • Use obtuse terminology and industry jargon

They must NOT include

  • Quotation marks
  • Parenthesis (except in mathematical or chemical formulas)

This can make writing patent claims difficult. Using examples of patent claims can help when writing claims for your own patent application.

Claim for an Automobile:

"A self-propelled vehicle, comprising:

(a) a body carriage having rotatable wheels mounted thereunder for enabling said body carriage to roll along a surface

(b) an engine mounted in said carriage for producing rotational energy, and

(c) means for controllably coupling rotational energy from said engine to at least one of said wheels,

whereby said carriage can be self-propelled along said surface."

Claim for the Process of Sewing:

"A method for joining two pieces of cloth together at their edges, comprising the steps of:

(a) providing said two pieces of cloth and positioning them together so that an edge portion of one piece overlaps an adjacent edge portion of the other piece, and

(b) passing a thread repeatedly through and along the length of the overlapping portions in sequentially opposite directions and through sequentially spaced holes in said overlapping adjacent portions,

whereby said two pieces of cloth will be attached along said edge portions."

Claim for Concrete:

"A rigid building and paving material comprising a mixture of:

(a) sand and stones, and

(b) a hardened cement binder filling the interstices between and adhering to sand and stones,

whereby a hardened, rigid, and strong matrix for building and paving will be provided."

Claim for a Pencil:

"A hand-held writing instrument comprising:

(a) elongated core-element means that will leave a marking line if moved across paper or other similar surface, and

(b) an elongated holder surrounding and encasing said elongated core element means, one portion of said holder being removable from an end thereof to expose an end of said core-element means so as to enable said core-element means to be exposed for writing,

whereby said holder protects said core element means from breakage and provides an enlarged means for holding said core-element means conveniently."

Claim for the "Insert" Feature Of Word Processing:

"A method of inserting additional characters within an existing series of characters on a display, comprising:

(a) providing a memory that is able to store a series of characters at an adjacent series of addresses in said memory

(b) providing a character input means that a human operator can use to store a series of characters in said memory at said respective adjacent series of addresses

(c) storing said series of characters in said memory at said adjacent series of addresses

(d) providing a display that is operatively connected to said memory for displaying said series of characters stored in said memory at said adjacent series of addresses

(e) providing a pointer means that said operator can manipulate to point to any location between any adjacent characters within said series of characters displayed on said display, and

(f) providing a memory controller that will

(1) direct any additional character that said operator enters via said character input means to a location in said memory, beginning at an address corresponding to the location between said adjacent characters as displayed on said display, and

(2) cause all characters in said series of characters that are stored in said memory at addresses subsequent said location in said memory to be transferred to subsequent addresses in said memory so that said additional character will be stored in said memory at said location and before all of said subsequent characters,

whereby said display will display said additional character within said series of characters at said location between said adjacent characters, and

whereby a writer can add words within existing body of text and the added words are displayed in an orderly and clean fashion without having to reenter said existing body of text."


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What inventions are NOT eligible for a patent?

There are rules on which types of inventions are eligible for a patent and which aren't. The following categories don't qualify for patents:

  • Mathematical formulas
  • Laws of nature
  • Newly discovered substances that occur naturally
  • Theoretical phenomena
  • Processes of human motor coordination (example: dance choreography or a method for meditation)
  • Protocols or methods for performing surgery on humans
  • Printed matter that has no shape or physical structure
  • Unsafe, new drugs
  • Inventions that are solely for illegal purposes
  • Inoperable inventions
  • Is computer software eligible for a patent?

Yes, software is sometimes eligible for patent protection. Software might be eligible for patent protection even when it includes mathematical formulas. If the software does include mathematical formulas, it's important that the patent application proves that the software produces a useful, concrete, and tangible result.

  • How is "novel" defined when it comes to patent eligibility?

To be patent eligible, an invention must be novel. Novel in this sense means that the invention must be different from all previous inventions in one or more elements. To decide whether or not an invention is novel, the USPTO examines all prior patents that exist as of the date that the patent application was filed.

If an invention has been put to public use or described in a published document prior to the date the patent application was filed, it will not pass the novelty test.

  • How is "non-obvious" defined when it comes to patent eligibility?

To be eligible for a patent, an invention must be novel, but also non-obvious. For an invention to be non-obvious, it must be considered unexpected or surprising by someone who is skilled in the field of the invention.

Guessing whether the USPTO will consider an invention non-obvious is difficult because this is a subjective test. What is considered non-obvious to one patent examiner might be obvious to a different patent examiner. Because of delays in the patent application process, the non-obvious test might be assessed long after the patent application was filed, and what is considered obvious can change quickly over time.

To avoid the potential confusion of mistakenly thinking something is obvious when it wasn't at the time of the filing of the patent application, patent examiners uses only descriptions of inventions that were filed BEFORE the date of the invention undergoing assessment.

  • What types of inventions can be patented?

There are three different types of patents: utility, design, and plant.

To qualify for a utility patent, which is the most common, your invention must be a new or improved version of one of these:

  • A process or method for producing a useful, concrete, and tangible result
  • A machine
  • An article of manufacturing
  • A composition of matter
  • An improvement on an invention

To qualify for a design patent, your invention must:

  • Be novel
  • Be non-obvious
  • Be nonfunctional

To qualify for a plant patent, your invention must:

  • Be novel
  • Be non-obvious
  • Be asexually reproduceable

If you need help with applying for a patent on an invention, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.