What is a Patent?

A patent is a right granted to an inventor by the federal government, giving the inventor the right, for a limited time, to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing the patented invention. In the United States, there are three types of patents:

  • Utility patents protect devices, formulas, processes and methods.
  • Design patents protect the non-functional appearance or design of an object of manufacture.
  • Plant patents protect asexually propagated plant varieties.

For any invention to be patentable, it must be useful, novel, and not obvious to a person who is skilled in the field of the invention.