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Utility Patents

Utility patents are considered to be the most valuable way to protect novel innovations of devices, compositions and processes which have use in industry. This is because the owner of a valid United States Patent is granted the right to grant licenses to competitors or to exclude competitors from practicing the invention in the United States during the term of the patent.

Patents compared to agreement with U.S. Government

Patents are often compared to an agreement with the United States Government on behalf of the public trust. In exchange for the inventor providing the public with a full written description of his or her invention, the inventor gets a limited term to exclude competition from practicing his or her invention (for most inventions made after 1995, the term is 20 years from the date of filing a patent application). Once this term has expired, the invention becomes part of the public domain, and can be practiced by the public without need for a license as was explained on how do you patent an idea with InventHelp.

“Blocking” patents

It should be noted that a patent does not assure that the inventor will be able to practice the invention without infringing upon the rights of other ‘blocking’ patents. In this regard, an invention is analogous to a piece of property which may be surrounded by several independent gated fences. In order for one to access the property, one must be in possession of keys to each and every gate that surrounds the property.

Similarly, to practice an invention, one must be entitled — through ownership or license — to practice under each valid United States Patent which covers aspects of the invention, and which has not expired. Eventually, each patent covering an invention should expire, and practice of the invention by the public will be allowed without a license.

In addition to utility patents, there are patents designed to cover original designs (“design patents”) and asexually produced plants (“plant patents”).

For more information on patents, see the United States Patent and Trademark Office website or read how to patent an idea with InventHelp article.

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