A patent for an invention is a grant of a property right by the U.S. Government to the inventor. It provides an inventor with the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or offering to sell an invention for a limited period of time.

Patent Example

International Patent Application
This specific International Patent Application was filed 16 months earlier than the U.S. Application.

Patent Fact

An inventor can file a patent application in his or her home country and then file the same application in other countries at a later date while claiming "priority" to the originally filed application.

Practically any invention may be the subject of a patent as long as it is novel and not obvious. Patentable subject matter includes new processes, systems, apparatus, methods, software, and improvements. Once issued, a U.S. utility patent is enforceable for a period of twenty (20) years from the filing date of the patent application.

The two most common types of patents are utility patents and design patents. A utility patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new useful improvement thereof. A design patent may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.