Patent Information

What is a Patent?

US Patent and Trademark OfficeA patent is a legal right given by the government to an individual or company. It gives exclusive rights, for a period of eighteen years, to the patent holder on the invention identified in the patent application. After the patent has expired, anyone is free to manufacture and sell what was previously protected. Anyone can apply for and receive a patent, as long as you can prove that you are the real inventor or officially representing him or her. You also do not have to be a US citizen. There is no requirement that the patent remain with the originating inventor. Patent rights can be sold or licensed to other people or companies. Visit the US Patent and Trademark Office for more information. 

Granting Patents

A patent can be granted on almost anything, as long as it is unobvious and novel. Patents are not unique to the United States, as many countries around the world have their own patent offices. Your US patent protects you from infringement in the US and its holdings. It is possible to sue someone who infringes on an issued patent. For protection in other countries, you must file for foreign patents in each country. The procedure for obtaining a foreign patent differs from country to country. The Personal Patent Innovative System applies only to obtaining a US patent.

Patent Basics

  • Protection for processes, machines, items of manufacture, compositions of matter
  • Item must be new, useful and non-obvious
  • Invention must be distinguishable over prior art
  • US rights are granted by the Federal Government through the US patent and Trademark Office
  • Foreign rights must be obtained separately by filing in the appropriate foreign patent office
  • As of June 1995, a US patent provides a 20 year monopoly from filing date on the invention which is claimed in the patent
  • Ongoing interaction between the inventor and the prosecuting attorney is key in drafting patent claims