We know: How Patents Work
What is a patent?
A patent for an invention is a grant of a property right by the Government to the inventor (or his or her heirs or assigns), acting through the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of the patent us usually for 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States.
The right conferred by the patent grant extends only throughout the United States and its territories and possessions.
What kinds of things can be patented?
The law states that any person who "invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent," subject to the conditions and requirements of the law.
These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything which is made by man and the processes for making the products.
What can NOT be patented?
The laws of nature, physical phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable subject matter.
A patent cannot be obtained for a mere idea or suggestion. A complete description of the actual machine or other subject matter for which a patent is sought is required.
Who may apply for a patent?
Only the inventor may apply for a patent. (There are some rare exceptions.) If two or more persons make an invention jointly, they apply for a patent as joint inventors. A person who makes a financial contribution is not a joint inventor and cannot be joined in the application as an inventor.
What government agency is in charge of patents?
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
What does a patent application usually involve?
(1) A written document which comprises a specification (description and claims), and an oath or declaration;
(2) A drawing in those cases in which a drawing is necessary; and
(3) The filing fee.