Patent Benefits

by Phil M. Fowler
Patents reward research, creativity and innovation.

Patents reward research, creativity and innovation.

Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The purpose of the U.S. government issuing patents is to reward inventive and entrepreneurial ideas in this country. Federal patent law protects inventors from copycats and clones to provide a financial incentive to continued invention. A patent is essentially a legal monopoly for a specific period of time over the new invention. The patent gives the inventor the exclusive right to benefit from the invention. Generally, a utility patent provides a 20-year monopoly, while a design patent provides a shorter 14-year monopoly.

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Exclusive Use

The owner of a patent has the right to the exclusive use of the patented idea, technology, or invention. For instance, a business that holds a patent on a creative manufacturing process has the exclusive right to use that process. This can provide the business with a competitive advantage, which can help the business gain market share and earn profits.

Exclusive Production

The owner of a patent has the exclusive right to produce the patented idea, technology, or invention. Again, this protects the patent holder's exclusive right to profit from the patent. Further, if any competitors want to produce the patented technology, they will have to pay the patent holder for that right. Without the patent holder's express permission, which usually comes in the form of a formal patent license agreement, nobody can produce replicas or clones without violating U.S. patent laws.

Exclusive Distribution

Not only does the patent holder have the exclusive right to use and produce an item, but the holder also has the exclusive right to distribute the patented technology. For instance, at cell phone company with a patented new cell phone battery is the only company that can sell that specific battery to its customers. Nobody else can sell that battery without the patent holder's express permission.

Transfer Rights

The owner of a patent can also profit from the patent by licensing, assigning, or transferring the patent to another person. The patent holder is the only person with this right. The holder can, for example, enter into a license agreement where another company has the right to either use, produce, or distribute the patented item. In exchange for the right to use, produce, or distribute the patented item, the licensee will have to pay the patent holder a license fee. Patent license fees can be highly lucrative. Alternatively, the patent holder may, for the right price, assign or sell the entire patent.