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What is a Patent?
A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted to a person by the government for a fixed period of time. The patent itself is an idea and a description of the invention including art and drawings. A patent excludes others from making, selling, using or importing the product for a certain time period. The person who chooses to obtain a patent does not have to be the creator of the idea or invention.
The incentives for patents are based on economic analysis. Patents ensure that you will be able to recover all the time and money spent to develop an innovative product for the common good of man and progression of science. Over the past two decades, the patent has become an imperative tool in protecting research and development of ideas.
What is Patent Infringement?
Patent infringement is not a criminal offense but rather is subject to civil litigation.
To be guilty of infringement, a person must have violated through practice every element of a claim in the patent. A suit cannot be upheld if the potential infringer has not violated at least one element of a claim.
The U.S., unlike other countries, grants patents to the "first to invent" rather than the "first to file" for a patent. An inventor of an idea or product has a 1-year grace period after a publication of the idea to file for a patent, therefore not allowing public sale to interfere and take place immediately.
If willful infringement is determined, damages paid to the patent can be increased up to three times the actual amount of damages.