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Patent and Trademark Resource Center Intellectual Property Chart

Intellectual Property

What is Protected

Term of Protection

Utility Patents

any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement
(chemical, mechanical, or electrical)

20 years from the date of filing
(subject to payment of maintenance fees)

Design Patents

a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture (the appearance of a functional product)

14 years from date of grant

Plant Patents

any distinct and new variety of plant invented or discovered and asexually reproduced

20 years from the date of filing

Trade Secrets

a formula, pattern, process, or device that a company keeps secret to give it an advantage over the competition

as long as the owners are able to keep it secret


a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade to indicate the source of goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others

as long as it is still in use and renewal fees are paid


original works of creative expression fixed in any tangible medium

See Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

Karen Kitchens
Wyoming State Library

No information in this handout should be construed as legal advice. Librarians at the Wyoming State Library can assist with the use of legal search tools and factual information but cannot offer legal opinions or interpretations of law. Consult an intellectual property attorney for legal assistance.


Created by Statewide Information Services, Wyoming State Library
Last updated April 2003.


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