Patents

A patent is a certificate issued by the federal government that provides an exclusive right to stop others from making, using, selling or offering to sell an invention for a limited period of time, i.e., 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. This right to stop others from practicing a new technical development is in return for a complete disclosure by the inventors of all of the important information relating to the development. A patent can therefore be considered a type of trade-off with the federal government that is intended to promote the public good. In return for the inventor disclosing all of the important information relating to a new technological advance, the government provides a limited period of exclusivity to the inventors, and upon expiration all of the information passes into the public domain and is freely available for everyone to use.