Utility Patents

Utility patents protect your invention's features and functions and can be filed as provisional or non-provisional patent applications.

Utility patents (provisional and non-provisional) protect the functional aspects of your invention. Utility patents prevent others from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing into the US competing goods or services that would violate the scope of protection.

Utility patents protect inventions that are new and not obvious in light of the existing state of the art. A utility patent can be directed to any manufactured good or industrial process.

Utility patents can be critical assets for businesses of all sizes, protecting your valuable investments in research and development and maintaining your technological advantage over competitors and copyists. Obtaining powerful patent protection for your foundational inventions is our central practice at Richards Patent Law. We have tremendous strength and experience in all areas of patent prosecution, including:

Our experience spans patenting inventions for Fortune 100 companies to patenting inventions for individual entrepreneurs. We will help you tailor your approach to match the needs of your business.

Provisional Patent Applications

Provisional patent applications (technically “provisional utility patent applications”) provide a priority date for a given invention to which future non-provisional utility patent applications may claim priority if the non-provisional utility patent application(s) are filed within one year of the provisional patent application filing date. Because provisional patent applications are less expensive to file than non-provisional utility patent applications, the one year deadline can be used to enable a business to explore the marketability and profitability of a given invention before committing to the more costly utility patent application process. Alternatively, if a company knows it will pursue a utility patent application on a given invention, the step of filing a provisional patent application may add unnecessary costs and delays.

Accordingly, depending on the context, a provisional patent application can be an effective tool for postponing more significant financial investment in the patent process until a better informed business decision can be made or a provisional patent application may simply be an unnecessary waste of time and resources. RPL will work with you to determine the most effective and efficient tools for implementing your patent strategy.

Non-Provisional Patent Applications

In order to start the examination process at the USPTO of a utility patent application, you must file a non-provisional utility patent application. You may file the non-provisional utility patent application as your initial application or you may file it as a follow up to a previously filed provisional utility patent application.

A non-provisional patent application includes: (1) drawings; (2) a written description of the invention; and (3) a set of claims.

Drawings and Written Description

When preparing the utility patent application, it is important to provide a complete and well-developed written description and associated drawings that explain the various features and functions of the invention. You cannot add any new matter to these sections of the patent application after filing and the broadest scope of your patent is going to be limited by the quality of the written description and drawings.


The claim set is what defines the patent’s legal scope of protection. The claims define which subject matter disclosed in the written description and drawings is protected by the patent. The claims are the only element of the patent application that may be substantively edited during the examination process. In fact, in most cases, the entire examination process is centered around amending the claims to find an appropriate scope of patent protection.

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about protecting an invention or formulating a strategy for your business’s innovations in general.

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