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Patents Law

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the federal agency charged with administering patent laws, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 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. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions.

U.S. patent laws were enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority to protect the discoveries of inventors. In order to be patented an invention must be novel, useful, and not of an obvious nature. “Utility” patents are issued for four general types of inventions/discoveries: machines, human made products, compositions of matter, and processing methods.