A utility patent contains written claims which distinguish a given article, method, apparatus or composition of matter from prior inventions.

For a patent to be granted, the invention claimed must be useful, new, and not obvious from prior inventions.

A design patent contains drawings or photos which distinguish the appearance (e.g., surface ornamentation or shape) of a given article from that of other articles. The drawings are the patent claim, and therefore they must be accurate, clear and consistent.
Plant patents may be granted for certain categories of plants. Non-patent protection is available for other types of plants under the Plant Protection Act.