A patent is a legal authority or right granted to an inventor, granting them exclusive rights to make, use or sell their invention for a set period of time. This period typically can last up to 20 years from the filing date. It serves to prevent others from using, copying, or selling the invention without the inventor’s permission.


The phonetic spelling of “Patent” is:/ˈpeɪ.tənt/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Protection of Intellectual Property: A patent is a special type of protection granted by the government for an invention. It provides the inventor exclusive rights to their invention, prohibiting others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention without proper authorization.
  2. Types of Patents: There are three types of patents available: utility patents that cover new processes or machines, design patents for new, original, and ornamental designs, and plant patents for new types of plants.
  3. Patent Validity and Enforcement: A patent is valid for a limited period, typically 20 years from the filing date for utility patents, and 14 years for design patents. It’s the responsibility of the patent owner to enforce their patent, the government does not monitor for potential infringements.



A patent is a crucial term in technology because it offers inventors exclusive rights to their innovations, rendering them the sole beneficiaries of their invention’s use and sale for a specific period, usually 20 years from the application filing date. This exclusivity encourages innovation by protecting inventors from unauthorized duplication or imitations, providing them with the opportunity to recoup their investment in research and development. Additionally, patents contribute to the technological knowledge base, fostering further innovation as patent documents get published and become accessible to the public, stimulating creative solutions and advancements in the technology industry.


A patent is a legal instrument used to protect and safeguard intellectual property, essentially inventors’ creations or innovations. It serves a crucial role in stimulating and promoting the development of new technologies, advancements, inventions, and ideas in various industries. It grants the patent holder an exclusive right to produce, use, sell or import the invention for a fixed period of time, usually 20 years from the date of filing. It encourages inventiveness by ensuring that creators have the legal protections required to reap the benefits of their inventions. On the other hand, patents also have the role of sharing new knowledge. When an inventor obtains a patent, the technical information about the invention is disclosed to the public. This way, whilst the inventor is securing the rights to commercially exploit the invention, they are also contributing to the pool of public knowledge and furthering technological progress. Thus, patents also facilitate the spread of new technologies and promote advancements in several fields.


1. Google’s PageRank Algorithm Patent: Google secured its initial competitive edge through a patent (US Patent 6,285,999) for the algorithm known as PageRank, which ranks web pages for their search engine results. This technology had a profound impact on the internet and formed the cornerstone of Google’s online search engine services.2. Apple’s Slide-to-Unlock Patent: A well-known feature for Apple device users, the ‘Slide-to-Unlock’ function, was patented by Apple (US Patent No. 8,046,721). This innovation transformed the way people interact with their devices and set industry standards for mobile interfaces.3. Amazon’s One-Click Patent: Amazon patented the One-Click purchasing system (U.S. Patent 5,960,411), a feature that allows customers to make an online purchase with a single click, bypassing the shopping cart process. This patent provided Amazon with a technical lead and unique user experience that helped them dominate the online retail market for many years. The patent expired in 2017, which allowed other online retailers to implement similar features.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Sure, here are some FAQs about the technology term “Patent”.Q1: What is a patent in technology?A1: A patent is a legal document granted by the government, giving an inventor exclusive rights to make, use, sell, and import an invention for a limited period of time, typically twenty years, in exchange for detailed public disclosure of the invention. Q2: What types of technology can be patented?A2: Nearly all types of technology can be patented, including but not limited to software, hardware, medical devices, telecommunications, machinery, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.Q3: How does a technology patent benefit the inventor?A3: A patent allows the inventor to prevent others from using, making, or selling their invention without permission. This facilitates the inventor’s ability to commercialize their invention and potentially gain financial benefits.Q4: How long does a technology patent last?A4: A technology patent generally lasts for twenty years from the date of filing. However, the term of a patent can be extended under certain circumstances.Q5: What is the process to get a technology patent?A5: The process consists of several steps – defining the invention, conducting a patent search to ensure the invention is novel, preparing a detailed patent application with claims and specifications, submitting the application to the patent office, and then going through the examination process. It might involve correspondence with a patent examiner and can take years.Q6: What happens after a technology patent expires?A6: Once a patent expires, the protection ends, and an invention enters the public domain. At that point, anyone can commercialize the invention without infringing the patent.Q7: Can patents be sold or licensed?A7: Yes. Patents are considered property, so they can be sold, bequeathed, or licensed. Q8: Are patents valid internationally?A8: No, patents are territorial and only offer protection in the country where the patent was granted. However, there are international treaties that can simplify the process for filing patents in multiple countries.Q9: Difference between design patent and utility patent?A9: A utility patent protects the functionality or use of a product or process, while a design patent protects the unique appearance or design of a product.Q10: Are there costs associated with maintaining a technology patent?A10: Yes. Several fees are associated with patents including filing fees, search fees, examination fees, and maintenance fees which must be paid over the life of the patent to keep it enforceable.

Related Tech Terms

  • Invention Disclosure
  • Patent Application
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement
  • Patent Infringement

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