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.
Many patents are issued for inventions originally developed in another country.
Many countries require inventors to file a patent application before ANY public disclosure of an invention.
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.