Frequently Asked Questions
What is patent protection?
Patent protection refers to the exclusive rights granted to an inventor over their invention. This exclusivity allows the inventor to license, sell, or buy these rights. In the United States, three types of patent protection are recognized: Utility patents, Design patents, and Plant patents. Utility patents cover machines, processes, manufactured articles, matter compositions, and improvements. Design patents protect original decorative designs for manufactured articles, while Plant patents are granted for new and distinct plant varieties that can be asexually reproduced. The basic requirements to file a patent include the invention being unique, useful, non-obvious, and novel. The World Trade Organization mandates that all member states must allow patent protection for all inventions in all technical fields for at least 20 years. However, individual nations maintain their own laws about what inventions can be patented. To determine if an invention is eligible for patent protection, one must consider if they created the invention themselves, if the idea is useful and marketable, if it is novel and non-obvious, and if it falls into one of the four general patent classes. Certain inventions, such as abstract ideas, laws of nature, non-useful objects, or physical phenomena, are not eligible for U.S. patent protection.
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