patent agent, patent application
Introduction to Patents
Glossary of Patent Terms
Invention Disclosure
Patent Related Links

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1. What is a patent?

A United States patent is the form of intellectual property protection which protects the fundamental idea of an invention. It gives the patent holder the exclusive right (monopoly) to make, use, sell, or import the patented invention for a period of 20 years from the date of application for a utility patent, and 14 years from the date of issue for a design patent (see Item 4 below). If another party makes, uses, sells, or imports the patented invention within the United States, the patent holder may take the 'infringer' to court and seek damages. In effect, a patent is a trade between the inventor and the government. In consideration for sharing his/her invention with the government and therefore the public, the inventor is given a number of years of exclusive rights.

patent agent, patent application
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