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What is a Patent? +

From the  US Patent and Trademark website

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.


Note:  it takes 1½ to 2½ years for a patent to be approved.  There is now a searchable application file that covers patents still in process after 18 months.  However, an inventor can elect to ask that the patent be confidential until granted which means it won’t be in the application file database.

Why search patents?

Primary reason:

  •  To identify specific technological advances and inventions.

Other reasons: 

  • To note trends in an area.
  • To determine whether a particular innovation has already been patented.
  • To identify owners of the rights to a feature you want to include in a product.
  • To identify research areas in or product interests of a particular company.