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patent

1) adj. obvious. Used in such expressions as a "patent defect" in an appliance. 2) n. an exclusive right to the benefits of an invention or improvement granted by the U.S. Patent Office, for a specific period of time, on the basis that it is novel (not previously known or described in a publication), "non-obvious" (a form which anyone in the field of expertise could identify), and useful. There are three types of patents: a) "utility patent" which includes a process, a machine (mechanism with moving parts), manufactured products, and compounds or mixtures (such as chemical formulas); b) "design patent" which is a new, original and ornamental design for a manufactured article; and c) "plant patent" which is a new variety of a cultivated asexually reproduced plant. Example: Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice President Henry A. Wallace developed hybrid corn which made him rich for life. A utility or plant patent lasts 17 years and a design patent lasts 14 years, but all types require payment of "maintenance" fees payable beginning 3 1/2 years after the issuance to keep them up. Patent law specialists can make a search of patents to determine if the proposed invention is truly unique, and if apparently so, can file an application, including detailed drawing and specifications. While awaiting issuance of the patent, products or designs should be marked "patent pending" or "pat. pending." Upon receiving the patent the product can be marked with the word "patent" and the number designated by the Patent Office. The rights can be transferred provided the assignment is signed and notarized to create a record or "licensed" for use. Manufacture of a product upon which there is an existing patent is "patent infringement" which can result in a lawsuit against the infringer with substantial damages granted. 3) n. a nearly obsolete expression for a grant of public land by the government to an individual.

See also: patent ambiguity  patent defect  patent infringement  patent pending 

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