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A patent is a right that is granted by a government to the inventor of a new invention. It confirms the inventor’s priority in the invention and gives the patent owner the exclusive right to exclude anyone else from practicing the invention. The right is granted only over a limited period of time, and in exchange for the right, what is referred to as the “quid pro quo” of patent law, the inventor agrees to publicly disclose his invention and to describe how it works.

In the United States, three types of patents are distinguished: (1) utility, (2) design, and (3) plant patents. Utility patents are the most prevalent type; they protect the functional aspects of utilitarian objects. Almost anything that is new, useful, and human-made ...

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