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What are patents?
Legal rights granted by a government or patent issuing agency to an inventor for 20 years in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. There are some variations to the length of the patent protection.
Patent owners have the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the jurisdiction in which the patent is registered.
Patents can be sold, licensed, reassigned, transferred or simply abandoned.
There are more than 100 countries and/or agencies worldwide that grant patents. The laws governing intellectual property vary by country.
What types of patents exist?
Utility patent – protects any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof
Design patent – protects any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. U.S. design patents are marked with D, Des., or Design.
Plant patent – protects invented or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. U.S. plant patents are marked with PP or Plant.
What are the patentability criteria?
The invention must be novel.
Has the invention been used in the public, sold, or published anywhere in the world?
The invention must have some utility or usefulness.
Is the invention useful? It does not have to be practical.
The invention must not be obvious.
Is the invention obvious to someone who is skilled in the art?
Plus, enough detail about the invention must be shared in the patent so that someone of average skill in the art could understand the invention.
USPTO: General Information Concerning Patents
USPTO: Inventor & Entrepreneur Resources
USPTO: How to Conduct a Preliminary US Patent Search
USTPO: Patent Search Tips of Fielded Searching
Cooperative Patent Classification Chart
Cooperative Patent Classification - Espacenet Patent Search
WIPO: International Patent Classification
WIPO: Directory of Intellectual Property Offices
Nolo: Summary of Leahy-Smith America Invents Act
Queens University: Anatomy of a U.S. Patent
What Every Chemist Should Know about Patents