A Constitutional Right

The Constitution provides for the issuance of an exclusive property right in the form of a patent to inventors.  A patent is  issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. There are three types of patents: utility, design and plant. A utility patent protects the way an article is used and works while a design patent protects the way an article looks. Utility patents require that the invention be new, useful, and non-obvious. Design patents require that the invention be new, original, and ornamental. A person who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant can obtain a Plant patent. 

The monopoly given to inventors of useful, novel, and non-obvious utility patents is restricted to 20 years from the filing of the patent. In the case of design patents, protection extends for 14 years. Only the inventor can apply for and receive a patent for an invention and only the inventor or the inventor's registered patent attorney or agent may prosecute a patent before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

A patent grant confers the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the United States or importing the invention into the United States. By giving the public notice of its patent rights through the use of the Patent Number, a patent owner becomes entitled, in case of infringement, to an award of damages and, in some cases, attorney's fees

How Patents Relate to Trademarks

Patents provide a monopoly over the creation of a marketable product or service.  

Trademarks are symbols that consumers use to connect that product or service to you, the owner of the patent.

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