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With the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, most developed and developing nations have an established system for protecting intellectual property. Intellectual property, the product of a person's or company's originality and creativity, is usually protected in one of four forms: through copyrights, trademarks, protections of trade secrets, or patents. Of all of the forms, patents are the most complex and tightly regulated, although differences exist across national systems. Patents are defined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” In general, patents protect the idea or design of an “invention” rather than the tangible form of the invention itself. ...

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