A patent is a type of intellectual property protection that provides rights to the originator of a product, idea, or formula, which forbids the reproduction, use, and sale of the invention for a limited time. A patent is granted by the Government of the United States to an inventor for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the protection is granted.
In the US there are three types of patents, each being granted to the people who invent or discover new and useful products, ideas, or formulas in three different categories. First, utility patents are granted to the inventor of any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matter. Next, design patents are granted to inventors of new, original, or ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Last, plant patents are granted to people who invent or discover and asexually reproduce any new variety of plant.
In the US a patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, exporting components to be assembled into an infringing device outside the US, and importing the product of a patented process practiced outside the US. Under current law in the United States, patents last for 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date, but can be extended for a variety of reasons.