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What is a Patent?

A patent is a government-granted right to exclude competitors from practicing an invention for a limited period of time – formerly 17 years from the date of issue and now 20 years from the date of application. This right can be licensed to third parties in return for fees and royalties. Thus a patent is a means of securing economic benefit from an invention. An invention must be new, useful and unobvious to qualify as patentable.