A patent is a grant of a property right, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The benefits of patent protection are:
- Prevent theft of invention;
- High profit margins;
- Reduce competition;
- Encourage settlement; and
- Expand market share.
Other benefits exists when one owns a patent. However, these are the major benefits.
The term of patent protection for a patent is 20 years from the filing date of its earliest non-provisional filing within the chain of priority. However, the term can be shortened if maintenance fees are not paid which would cause the patent to expire prematurely before the 20 year time period.
U.S. patents are effective only within the United States, it’s territories and possessions. The patent can be used to stop others from making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing the invention into the United States. Although a U.S. patent cannot stop others from making and selling the invention outside of the United States, the U.S. patent can be used to stop the importation of the infringing product into the United States.
The patent grant is an exclusionary right which gives the patent owner the right to stop others from making, using, selling, offering for sale and importing the invention. The patent grant is not a right to make, use, sell, offer for sale or import. This means that even though one obtains a patent, the patent provides no protection against the infringement of another’s patent grant. However, the patent grant may provide certain potential incentives for settlement as discussed in the “benefits of patent protection.”
Types of patents
- Utility patents: These types of patents provide protection for utilitarian or functional aspects of an invention. Utility patent applications may be filed as a provisional or non-provisional patent applications.
- Design patents: These types of patents provide protection for aesthetic features of a product.
- Plant patents: These types of patents provide protection for asexually reproducing plant varieties