What Is Patentable?

A patent is a government-granted monopoly that precludes others from using an invention for 20 years (for utility patents) in return for the inventor’s disclosure about how the invention operates. Patents are based on a fundamental trade-off. As compensation for showing others how an invention works, and thereby advancing the level of technical knowledge in a country, inventors receive monopoly rights to their invention for a specific period of time.

Patents have a complex set of effects on technological innovation. On the one hand, they provide people with an incentive to innovate. In the absence of the monopoly right provided by patents, inventors often would be unable to capture the value coming from their inventions and, ...

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