WHAT IS A PATENT?
|A patent for an invention is the
grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United
States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new
patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for
the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases,
from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject
to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are
effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and
U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term
extensions or adjustments may be available.
The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language
of the statute and of the grant itself, "the right to
exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or
selling" the invention in the United States or
"importing" the invention into the United States. What
is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell
or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using,
offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a
patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without
aid of the USPTO.
There are three types of patents:
- Utility patents may be granted to anyone who
invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine,
article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any
new useful improvement thereof.
- Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents
a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of
- Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents
or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new
variety of plants.