A patent gives its owner the legal exclusive right to his or her invention for a limited period of time. After the term of a patent expires, the technology become public domain to benefit of society. A patent is granted by a country's intellectual property office which in the United States is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which is a division of the United States Department of Commerce. According to the United States Constitution, a patent is defined as-
"any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new or useful improvement thereof"
In order for an invention to be considered patentable, it must meet all three of the following criteria-
The USPTO grants three different types of patents-
Everything one needs to know about United States patents in contained in the USPTO website. Make sure you read the General Information Concerning Patents section of the website to understand patent basics.