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Different Forms of Idea Protection


By Stephen Paul Gnass

If you've developed a new product, then you'll need a patent. A patent is a grant from a country's government which gives the inventor the sole right to make, use and sell his invention for a specified period of time within the issuing country's geographical borders. When granted, the patent contains a full, clear description of the invention which is open to the public. However, only the patent holder is the legal owner of this "intellectual property". If you plan to conduct business in other countries, you have the option to apply for foreign patents on the same idea. However, foreign patents are very expensive. Once you sell or display your idea, you have a limited timeframe to apply for foreign patents.

In the United States, there are three basic categories of patents:
    1: Design - for new and ornamental designs
    2. Utility - for new and useful devices, process, machines or improvements
    3. Plant - for new plants

In essence you are purchasing "monopoly" ownership rights to your idea, much like purchasing real estate.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office information about patents is at:

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