A patent is one of the most important government issued documents you can receive to protect an invention and its used in commerce. The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to enact laws relating to patents, in Article I, section 8, which reads, “Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Under this power Congress has from time to time enacted various laws relating to patents. The patent laws specify the subject matter for which a patent may be obtained and the conditions for patentability. The law establishes the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to administer the law relating to the granting of patents and contains various other provisions relating to patents.

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is twenty years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. To be clear, a patent does NOT grant any rights to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.