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What Is a Patent?


A patent, or patent term, gives an inventor exclusive right to the invention for a limited time after the filing of the patent application, typically 20 years. It is governed by different laws than copyright and trademark. The patent is granted for a particular process, product, design, machine, or article and it may be awarded to an inventor or an applicant for a patent. It gives the inventor the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the new invention without the inventor’s permission.


A patent only applies within the United States and the application must be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).


The application and registration process for patents is more complicated than for trademarks. A business that is centered around an invention has too much riding on the invention to consider applying for a patent without legal assistance. Without proper patent protection, that business would quickly die if its invention were stolen because it is not protected. Because of the significance of that protection, I strongly recommend consulting an attorney for assistance with a patent application. However, if you would like to learn more about the process before consulting with an attorney, the USPTO website has several good resources.



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