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The Law Office of Paul B. Johnson offers competitive rates for a wide variety of U.S. and foreign patent services, many of which are billed on a flat-rate basis.
Nonprovisional patent applications
A "nonprovisional" patent application is examined by a USPTO patent examiner to determine whether you should be granted an issued patent. There are three types of nonprovisional applications. Utility patent applications cover useful methods/processes, devices, manufactured items, compositions of matter, and so forth. They may be seen to protect the "usefulness" of an invention. Design patent applications cover the "ornamental design" of a manufactured item. They may be seen to protect the overall appearance of an invention, but not the "usefulness" of an invention. They are not intended to protect design features that are dictated by function (for example, if you choose to use two springs instead of one for a certain part of a device because extra shock absorption is needed, that is a "functional consideration" and you would likely not protect the "two-spring" appearance through a design application). Plant applications protect new varieties of plants that are asexually reproduced.
Provisional patent applications
Provisional patent applications are not examined, and so cannot themselves result in an issued patent, but they grant you a "filing date" and a later-filed nonprovisional application can "date back" to the filing date of your provisional application if filed within one year. Provisional applications are simpler to prepare and file than nonprovisional applications, and accordingly less costly. They can be very useful if drafted properly and if timed so that they allow you to test the market for your invention before filing a nonprovisional application. Provisional applications can cover many useful inventions but cannot cover "designs," i.e., the overall appearance of a manufactured item.