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The most common type of patent is a utility patent. You can potentially get a utility patent for a machine, an article of manufacture, a composition of matter, or a process or method that produces a useful and tangible result. You also may be able to get a patent for an improvement on any type of invention in the previous list. In addition to falling within one of these categories, the invention must be useful, novel, and non-obvious.

You also can get a design patent for a design feature of a product if it is novel, non-obvious, and not related to the functionality of the product. Plants can qualify for a specific type of patent if they are novel and non-obvious. Large companies usually obtain these patents, which are rare.