A patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange for publishing an enabling disclosure of the invention. In most countries, patent rights fall under private law and the patent holder must sue someone infringing the patent in order to enforce their rights. In some industries patents are an essential form of competitive advantage; in others they are irrelevant.[1]: 17 

The procedure for granting patents, requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims that define the scope of protection that is being sought. A patent may include many claims, each of which defines a specific property right. These claims must meet various patentability requirements, which in the US include novelty, usefulness, and non-obviousness.[2][3]

Under the World Trade Organization's (WTO) TRIPS Agreement, patents should be available in WTO member states for any invention, in all fields of technology, provided they are new, involve an inventive step, and are capable of industrial application.[4] Nevertheless, there are variations on what is patentable subject matter from country to country, also among WTO member states. TRIPS also provides that the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years.[5]

  1. ^ WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook: Policy, Law and Use. Chapter 2: Fields of Intellectual Property Protection Archived 2013-05-20 at the Wayback Machine WIPO 2008
  2. ^ "Patents: Frequently Asked Questions". World Intellectual Property Organization. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  3. ^ Lemley, Mark A.; Shapiro, Carl (2005). "Probabilistic Patents". Journal of Economic Perspectives, Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 288. 19: 75. doi:10.2139/ssrn.567883. S2CID 9296557.
  4. ^ Article 27.1. of the TRIPs Agreement.
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference PatentLength was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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