About Patents
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Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitutiongrants Congress the power to "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries…" This power is reflected in Title 35, U.S. Code.

A patent is a sort of deal between the Government and an inventor, in which an inventor discloses the details of an invention to the public in exchange for the right to exclude others from making, selling, or using the invention for a predetermined term.

Once the patent is granted, the USPTO won't enforce it; it's up to the person who owns to patent to enforce it using the court system.

The USPTO recognizes three unique types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents

The terms for these types patents are currently 20 years, 14 years, and 20 years respectively.

For more information about patents:

Websites:

United States Patent and Trademark Office. General Information Concerning Patents.

Books:

Pressman, David and Richard Stim. Nolo's Patents for Beginners.Berkeley, CA : Nolo, 2006.
Pressman, David. Patent it Yourself. Berkeley, CA : Nolo, 2006.

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