A patent is a legal property right granted to the person or entity who designs, invents, or cultivates a new and original product, process, technology, or service, any of which can be assigned a monetary value. A patent holder is granted the ability to make, sell, and use the idea for a specified period of time, while excluding others from doing so. During that time, the patent holder may sell (assign) the right to another person or entity so they can manufacture, sell, or use the idea.
Patents are issued by a governing agency of the country in which the patent application is filed, and they are enforceable only within the country. In the United States patents for inventions that meet statutory criteria are granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent system is designed to encourage inventions that are unique and useful to society. Congress was given the power to grant patents in the constitution, and the federal statutes and rules govern Patents.
The USPTO issues three types of patents:
Some ideas might benefit from more than one type of patent, usually both utility patent and a design patent.