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Patent information for Georgia Tech community

What can be patented?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by a government agency, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), for a limited period of time, usually 20 years.  U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States and U.S. territories. 

Read: General information concerning patents

There are three types of U.S. patents:

  • A utility patent protects any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Generally speaking, a utility patent has a 20 year term from the date of filing.
  • A design patent protects a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Currently, a design patent has a 15 year term from the date of grant.
  • A plant patent protects asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. The term for a plant patent is 20 years from the date of filing.

Read more about patent basics.

Not sure about what type of IP protection you need? Use this IP Identifier tool to assess your creative works. 

Patentability requirements

To be patentable, an invention/innovation needs to meet the following criteria:

  • 1) Statutory: the invention should be in one of the four classes: processes, machines, manufactured articles, and compositions of matter.
  • 2) Novelty: the invention must be new and has not been publicly disclosed more than a year before a patent application filing date.
  • 3) Non-obviousness: an inventor must conduct a preliminary patent search and study the prior art to anticipate the non-obviousness. The examiner will decide whether the invention would be considered obvious to somebody with ordinary skill in the art.
  • 4) Usefulness: an invention should have practical utility, operability, and beneficial to the real world.

In addition, an invention must also be

  • adequately described or enabled for someone of ordinary skill in the technology field to make and use the invention, and
  • claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms.

Read more in Patent FAQs.

About Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC)

The Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) is a national network of academic, public and special libraries that provide intellectual property services to the public. The PTRC's mission includes: Disseminating patent and trademark information, and supporting diverse intellectual property needs of the public. The Georgia Tech Library joined PTRC program in 1946 as one of the initial 22 libraries. We have all available patents issued in the U.S. since 1790 on file together with additional search tools. Currently, we provide the following resources and services:

  • A dedicated patent station. This computer is dedicated for patent search in the library. If you need to use this computer to conduct your prior art search, please make a reservation by phone (404-894-4500).
  • Free patent consultation and training. We provide free patent and trademark consultation and training by appointment. Please contact us by email to make an arrangement ( 
  • Training seminars/events. We organize training programs/events, and collaborate with stake holders on special projects. Check the latest updates on Public training/events page.

Disclaimer: While the library staff cannot offer legal advice, perform a patent search, assist in writing a patent application, or warrant the completeness of a patentability search, we can provide appropriate training on patent and trademark searching, and link you to the right resources for you to proceed with your invention or entrepreneurial start-up ideas.

Read more about Georgia Tech PTRC.