A patent is a grant of a property right to a patentee, his heirs or assigns, over an invention issued by the patent office in the country where the individual seeks to obtain such protection. In the United States, a patent is applied for and granted to the applicant by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which gives the patent holder a right to exclude others from making, using, importing, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States. Further, a patent holder maintains a property right to the patent for a limited time of up to twenty (20) years. 35 U.S. Code § 154.
The first patent statute was passed in 1474 in the Republic of Venice; the second was enacted by Great Britain in 1624, "the Statute of Monopolies;" which then led to America's Constitutional right to a patent, as enumerated under Art. 8, Section 8, Clause 8: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" and in 1790, Congress passed the Patent Act. Princeton Law; Cornell Law.
Patents are territorially limited to the country where the patent was granted. However, under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a patent holder may seek foreign patent protection by filing in several different countries through either the Paris Convention or the Patent Cooperation Treaty. WIPO.
First, in order to obtain a patent, the invention must be novel, whereby such person would entitled to a patent, unless,
An exception applies where the claimed invention was disclosed 1 year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.
Secondly, the invention must reflect a "new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof" in order to obtain a patent. 35 U.S. Code § 101.
Last, the invention must be non-obvious. Meaning, the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art, at the time of the claimed invention, are different enough such that a person having ordinary skill in the art would not find such invention as a whole obvious. 35 U.S. Code § 103.