A patent is a property right granted by a government to an inventor. In the United States, a patent gives the patent owner (usually an inventor but it can be an Assignee) the right to prevent others from making, using, offering for sale or selling the invention in a particular country. A U.S. patent also allows the patent owner to prevent the importation of the invention from other countries. The patent owner has this right for a specific period of time, but in return must disclose information about the invention to the public. The period of time the patent is granted for is known as the patent term. The inventor or patent applicant (a patent applicant may be a corporate entity) must file applications in other individual countries in order to obtain protection for the invention on an international scale.
What can be Patented?
An inventor may patent any new or improved inventions in the following fields:
- Manufactured articles
- Compositions of matter
- Improvements thereof
What cannot be Patented?
- Naturally occurring laws or phenomena
- Non-useful inventions
- Offensive articles
Criteria for Patentability
To be patentable an invention must:
- Be novel – i.e., new and inventive
- Be non-obvious – People who work in the related field must not be able to automatically come up with the invention to solve a particular problem relevant to that industry.
- A patent application for an invention must be filed within one year of the invention being publicly used, offered for sale, or sold in the U.S.