Patents are a type of intellectual property which give inventors the right to exclude others from using the invention. This is a property right granted to the inventors and their applicants by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
There are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Utility patents are more common than design or plant patents. Utility and plant patents give the owner an exclusive monopoly lasting for 20 years, while a design patent only lasts for 15 years.
Patents are a great way to capitalize and monetize on your invention. Generally speaking, they can be done so either by practicing the invention (producing something or performing a service) or by licensing the patent for others to practice the invention.
In order for an invention to be patent-eligible, it has to be a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof. Furthermore, the law requires the inventor to show that the invention is not just an idea or concept but that it can be “reduced to practice.” In other words, the invention has to be specific enough that someone familiar with that area of the industry, who reads the detailed description of the invention, can construct it or otherwise put it into use.
Sometimes the invention deals with a process or a business method which covers steps taken to perform a task rather than to produce a product. Nevertheless, in order for an invention to be patent-able, it has to be novel, have utility and be non-obvious. These requirements are the fundamentals of what a patent is and what purpose it serves in society.