A patent or is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. The procedure for granting patents, requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims that define the invention. These claims must meet relevant patentability requirements, such as novelty and non-obviousness. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission. Under the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, patents should be available in WTO member states for any invention, in all fields of technology, and the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years. In many countries, certain subject areas are excluded from patents, such as business methods and computer programs. |
The word patent originates from the Latin patere, which means "to lay open" (i.e., to make available for public inspection). More directly, it is a shortened version of the term letters patent, which was a royal decree granting exclusive rights to a person, predating the modern patent system. Similar grants included land patents, which were land grants by early state governments in the USA, and printing patents, a precursor of modern copyright. In modern usage, the term patent usually refers to the right granted to anyone who invents any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter. Some other types of intellectual property rights are also called patents in some jurisdictions :industrial design rights are called design patents in the US, plant breeders' rights are sometimes called plant patents, and utility models andGebrauchsmuster are sometimes called petty patents or innovation patents. The additional qualification utility patent is sometimes used (primarily in the US) to distinguish the primary meaning from these other types of patents. Particular species of patents for inventions include biological patents, business method patents, chemical patents and software patents. -------------------------------------------------
Main article: History of patent law
U.S. patents granted, 1790–2010.
Patents in force in 2000
In 500 BC, in the Greek city of Sybaris (in what is now southern Italy), "Encouragement was held out to all who should discover any new refinement in luxury, the profits arising from which were secured to the inventor by patent for the space of a year. The Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi received a three-year patent for a barge with hoisting gear, that carried marble along the Arno River in 1421 In 1449, King Henry VI granted the first English patent with a license of 20 years to John of Utynam for introducing the making of colored glass to England. Patents in the modern sense originated in 1474, when the Republic of Venice enacted a decree that new and inventive devices, once put into practice, had to be communicated to the Republic to obtain the right to prevent others from using them. England followed with the Statute of Monopolies in 1624, under King James I, which declared that patents could only be granted for "...projects of new invention." During the reign of Queen Anne (1702–14), lawyers of the English Court developed the requirement that a written description of the invention must be submitted. The patent systems in many other countries, including Australia, are based on British law and can be traced back...