Sophos Law Guides
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What is a Patent?
A form of intellectual property, a patent is not a trademark and it is not a copyright. A patent is a limited monopoly granted by the U.S. Government to an inventor in exchange for the public disclosure of his or her invention.
Patent law in the United States is the exclusive domain of the federal government. Under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is empowered “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.” Title 35 of the U.S. Code is the current patent law in the United States. Under Section 101, patent protection is available to any inventor of any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter (or any improvement thereof).
With patent protection, the owner of a patent can exclude anyone from making, using, selling, or offering to sell any item that incorporates the patent. If someone does any of the above, they are infringing on the patent and select remedies are available to the patent owner. Remedies include injunctive relief as well as monetary damages for infringement.
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