What is a Utility Patent?

A utility patent protects any new invention or functional improvement to an existing invention.  Most patents tend to fall into the utility patent category, and are subdivided into mechanical, electrical or chemical utility categories.  An example would be going from light emitting diode (LED) technology to organic LEDS (OLEDs).  In this case, the synthetic material used in LEDs is replaced by organic material, allowing them to be installed into flat display screens, and so the improvement to the material would allow a new utility patent to be granted.

A classic LED design (left) compared with an ultra thin, flexible OLED screen (right), courtesy of Toshiba.