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PATENTS

What is a Patent?

A patent is a temporary right, granted by the state, enabling an inventor to prevent other people from exploiting his invention without his permission. Unlike copyright, it does not come into existence automatically; the inventor must apply for the patent to be granted. However, the protection it gives is much stronger than copyright, because the grant of a patent allows the person owning it (the patentee) to prevent anyone else from exploiting the invention, even if they have discovered it for themselves.

Patents were originally intended to encourage new inventions, and in particular to encourage the disclosure of those new inventions. Inventors are often hesitant to reveal the details of their invention, for fear that someone else might copy it. A government-granted temporary monopoly on the commercial use of their invention provides a remedy for this fear, and so acts as an incentive to disclose the details of the invention. After the monopoly period expires, everyone else is free to practice the invention. And because of the disclosure made by the inventor, it is very easy to do so.


  

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