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ABOUT/FAQ provides a quick, example-driven introduction to a topic easily misunderstood – ‘intellectual’ property


IP affects literally everyone.

  • A patent is an exclusive right granted by a government for a limited period of time in exchange for sharing the invention publicly. In the U.S. a patent term is 20 years from the time it is filed.
    Publishing a patent (18 months after the application is filed) enables others to learn while protecting the invention owner’s interest. A patent represents an ownership “agreement” that governments provide to inventors and their “assignees”(usually their employer) in exchange for the right to share the invention publicly. A patent grants them an exclusive monopoly over the right to make, use, license and sell the invention in exchange for the obligation to share its primary details. People and businesses benefit by receiving a period of exclusivity to protect and possibly profit from their ideas. The government benefits by encouraging scientific and technological progress and human ingenuity. A patent is enforced by the owner, not the government that granted it, which is costly and time consuming, especially for small businesses and individuals. As with any form of IP, questionable patents are sometimes used by businesses and individuals in an attempt to secure a license or collect damages.
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