A patent is a collection of exclusive intellectual property rights that are awarded upon a person by the United States Patent office to an inventor for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. The public policy behind the desire to get the inventor to publicly disclose their patents is so that general public can reap the benefits of these inventions.
In order to qualify for a patent, one has to submit a patent application to the United State Patent Office, with at least one claim defining the patent. In order for the patent to be awarded, it must be new, novel and non-obvious, useful, add on to something, something new, a composition of matter, or article of manufacturing.
Kinds of Patents
There are also different types of patents. A Utility patent differs from a design patent. There are also biological patents, business method patents, chemical patents and software patents.
A utility patent having a 17 year term, a plant patent having same terms, and a design patent having a 14 year term. The utility patent is one most often referred to when patents are discussed and usually is the most important from an economic stand point.
Utility patents are granted to new, useful, and nonobvious products and processes. Design patents are granted for new, original and ornamental design for articles of manufacture. Plant patents may be given for inventing and discovering and then asexually reproducing, new and distinctive plant varieties.