A patent is a document issued by the federal government that grants to its owner legally enforceable rights to exclude others from making, using, selling, importing, or offering for sale the claimed invention in the United States. It is important to note that a patent does not give the inventor the right to practice the invention. The inventor can practice his invention only if by so doing he does not also practice the invention of an earlier unexpired patent.
Most companies and inventors seek a patent to obtain the actual or potential commercial advantages that go along with the right to exclude others. In addition to the potential for an exclusive market position or licensing income, a patent often lends business credibility to start-up ventures and can open doors to both technical assistance and financing necessary to bring a new product to market. An improvement patent may also provide the barter necessary to cross-license any basic patents held by others which block the path to market.
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