Patents are the rights given to the inventor of a process or product that provides a solution to a problem or a new way of achieving a goal. The patent is the public document that records these exclusive rights and privileges. The patent application informs the public about the details of the new invention. The word “patent” comes from a Latin expression, litterae patentes, which translates to open letters. This idea is still prevalent in legal jargon.

The exclusive rights given by a patent keep the invention from being copied by individuals or companies. While inventions are protected by patents, copyrights protect photos, books, films, ideas, and other works of art. Trademarks protect logos, trade names, phrases, and slogans.

Having a patent means the law will prosecute others from profiting from the patent holder’s invention for a specific time period. The person with the patent can give others permission to use the invention within certain agreed-upon circumstances. The patent owner can also sell the patent to another person or company, who will then have rights to the invention. After the patent term ends, anyone can profit from the invention and the protection offered by the patent expires.